This Spicy Hot Chocolate will set your taste buds ablaze while wrapping you in a comforting embrace. This rich, velvety hot chocolate is infused with a bold combination of bittersweet chocolate, aromatic spices, and a hint of cayenne heat.
Why you’ll love this recipe
Spicy Hot Chocolate is the perfect harmony of flavors, offering both sweet indulgence and a tantalizing kick. Whether you're seeking comfort on a chilly evening or a unique twist on your favorite cocoa, this beverage has it all.
The warmth of bittersweet chocolate combines with the aromatic dance of cloves and cinnamon, culminating in a surprising burst of heat from the fresh cayenne chili pepper.
And the kick for the cayenne makes this a perfect drink to bring on cold hikes or ski trips in the winter!
It's a delightful fusion of flavors that will warm your soul, awaken your senses, and leave you craving another cup.
- Milk: Whole milk serves as the creamy canvas upon which the other flavors will dance, ensuring a velvety texture.
- Bittersweet chocolate: This rich chocolate imparts depth and complexity to the hot chocolate, balancing the sweetness with its bitter notes.
- Whole cloves: These aromatic spice buds infuse the hot chocolate with a subtle earthy flavor, adding depth and warmth.
- Cinnamon sticks: Cinnamon lends a comforting and sweet-spicy note, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
- Pure vanilla extract: Vanilla rounds out the flavors, adding a touch of sweetness and depth.
- Fresh cayenne chili pepper: The star of the show! This fiery pepper brings the heat, creating a delicious contrast with the sweetness of the chocolate.
- Cornmeal: I usually don't add cornmeal to my Mexican hot chocolate, but if you want to follow tradition, add ¼-1/2 cup of cornmeal or masa harina. It will provide a thicker mouthfeel.
In a saucepan, heat the milk over medium-low heat until it's just about to simmer. Do not let it boil.
Reduce the heat and add the bittersweet chocolate, stirring constantly until it's completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
Gently crush the cloves and add them, along with the cinnamon sticks and a roughly chopped cayenne chili pepper, to the hot chocolate. Let them steep for about 10 minutes to infuse the flavors (longer if you want it spicier!).
Add the pure vanilla extract and stir to combine. Strain this spicy hot chocolate into your favorite mugs!
Marshmallows are delicious additions to counteract the bitterness of the chocolate.
Once cool, you can store this hot chocolate in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days. Make sure to cover it so it doesn't absorb any smells from the refrigerator.
To reheat, add to a casserole and do it long and slow over low heat so the chocolate doesn't burn.
What is Aztec hot chocolate?
Aztec hot chocolate is a hot chocolate made with bittersweet chocolate and chili. It's not an overly sweet chocolate drink. Originally, it also has cornmeal (masa harina) in it for a thicker mouthfeel.
If you want to try it like the ancient world's, mix ¼-½ cup of cornmeal or masa harina into the mixture. Add the masa harina to the saucepan, and in a thin stream while constantly whisking, add in the milk.
Then continue with the recipe as is. It will get thicker and more filling, so I'd say that would be 6 servings at least.
Is Aztec and Mexican hot chocolate the same?
It depends. Aztec hot chocolate is still also a Mexican hot chocolate.
Atole is any corn-thickened drink, champurrado is when you add chocolate to an atole (atole de chocolate). As far as I understand, Xocolatl (Aztec) hot chocolate is the same.
Some say champurrado has a thicker consistency than other Mexican hot chocolates, due to more masa harina.
What is the difference between bittersweet and semisweet chocolate?
Bittersweet chocolate has a lower percentage of sugar and a more considerable amount of cacao. Bittersweet chocolate still has sugar, so it's sweeter than unsweetened chocolate.
However, there is still going to be more of that rich cocao taste than sweetness. It often has 70% or more of cacao content.
Semisweet chocolate is made with more sugar and cocoa butter during the production process.
Even though there is more sugar added than in bittersweet, semisweet chocolate is still considered a darker type of chocolate, roughly 44 or more % cacao content. Known as kokesjokolade in Norwegian.
Can I use ground spices instead of whole spices?
Yes, you can use ground cloves and ground cinnamon, but be sure to use them sparingly, as they are more concentrated in flavor. Start with a small amount and adjust to taste.
I like to start with ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, a good pinch of cloves and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper.
Ground spices will not melt into the drink, so it can look a little grainy if you use too much.
How can I control the level of spiciness in the hot chocolate?
The heat in spicy hot chocolate comes from the fresh chili pepper. You can control the spiciness by adding more or less chili pepper to suit your preference.
1 whole cayenne will be quite spicy, so start with ½ if you feel unsure.
You can also use another chili pepper, see the question below.
Can I use a different type of chili pepper for a unique twist?
Feel free to experiment with other chili peppers to create different levels of heat and flavor in your hot chocolate.
For milder chili hot chocolate, try serrano, hatch chiles, Anaheim, or New Mexican chiles.
For a spicier hot chocolate, try habanero or Thai bird's eye chilies.
And for a smokier hot chocolate, you could try a mix of ancho and guajillo chilies. Dry chilies work just as well. For short infusions, you may need to rehydrate the chili in hot water prior to making the hot chocolate.
- Whisk the hot chocolate well before serving to create a frothy, luxurious texture.
- Experiment with garnishes like whipped cream, chocolate shavings, or a cinnamon stick for added visual appeal and flavor. As you may have noticed, I kept it free of anything though. Plenty of flavor in the hot chocolate!
- If you don't fancy bitter chocolate, use semisweet chocolate instead. It will still be as chocolatey, but sweeter and less bitter.
- I love to serve hot chocolate with buns. Try the cinnamon rolls pictures in these photos, plain sweet buns, or saffron buns for Christmas. Cookies are another great option.
Did you like this recipe? Here are more hot drinks I think you’d love:
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