Up Your Hot Cocoa Game with These Unique Recipes

Anyone else experiencing the annual post-holiday blues? I mean, it’s only natural, after that most wonderful time of year, that the excitement of the New Year (and the resolutions that go hand-in-hand) start to wear off. So, what can we do to overcome the gloom of January in Montana? Let’s try getting creative with some hot chocolate colors, flavors, mixes, and combos!  Below, I have a few of my family’s hot chocolate recipes, but truth be told, one of our favorite things to do is challenge the kids to come up with their own new creative hot chocolate concoctions (there have been some successes and plenty of fails here). They love thinking of names and the various ingredients (although I would never consider them mixologists of any sort).

The base for each of these can be made with milk (my preference) or with water with a chocolate powder or syrup (Nestle, Hershey’s, Swiss Miss, etc.), or by melting your favorite kind of chocolate (Dove, Ghirardelli, anyone?).  Don’t forget, with each of these, that some fun colored/themed straws from the dollar store can go a long way with regard to aesthetic appeal!  Here are some of our family hot chocolate recipes that stretch beyond the peppermint, dark, or white hot chocolates:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oreo Blitz

Have you been to the Quick Stop in Rockvale and had the Penguin Cyclone?  If not, try it and if so, this favorite of ours is essentially the warm, winter version of the Quick Stop’s cold, summer Penguin Cyclone.  To make this one:

  • Spread peanut butter around the rim of a mug
  • Dunk the peanut butter coated rim in a bowl of crushed up Oreos (not too crushed—I like mine a little chunky)
  • Add your favorite kind of hot chocolate to the mug (white, milk, or dark are all delicious with this one)
  • Top with whipped cream and more crunched up Oreos and/or half an Oreo
  • Pro Tip: You can replace the Oreos here with Reese’s and stick to all peanut butter and chocolate for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Surprise!

Rainbow Unicorn

If you want all of the colors, this is the one!  What better than rainbow unicorn to lift you from those winter blues? 

  • Start with white hot chocolate in the mug (although you can sometimes find special unicorn hot chocolate mixes that are pink colored)
  • Mix in rainbow colored mini-marshmallows
  • Top with whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles
  • Optional: Top with a few Skittles

The Blue Mermaid

If it isn’t the rainbow unicorn, it’s going to be the mermaid. 

  • Start with white hot chocolate mix
  • Add one or two drops of blue food coloring
  • Top with whipped cream and some shimmering sprinkles and edible pearls/Sixlets
  • Optional: Add edible seashells, star fish, etc. (you can order these from Amazon)

Strawberry Legoland

  • Using a strawberry powder or syrup as opposed to chocolate, make your hot chocolate—you might add some red food coloring to get a more vivid, primary Lego red color
  • Add colored mixture to the mug
  • Top with whipped cream and one or more primary color sprinkles (yellow, blue, red, green) and/or Sixlets
  • Optional: Add a candy Lego to the top (you can find these locally at Candy Town USA or order them from Amazon)

If none of these appeal to you or your crew, or if you want to offer a variety of options all at once, shoot for the hot chocolate bar!  You can do this as a fun family activity or turn it into a get-together with friends.  For your hot chocolate bar, you will want your basics including the milk (be prepared to use water for those who do not drink milk), a couple of chocolate mix varieties including white and milk chocolate (this can be a powder or syrup base depending on your preference).  From there, put out some little bowls of mini-marshmallows (white, rainbow color, or whatever you can find—the more variety, the better—we actually have some vanilla dinosaur marshmallows I happened to snag at the store the other day!), M & M’s, candy canes, Oreos, whipped cream (homemade or out of the aerosol can—no judgment here!—I actually prefer cool whip), sprinkles (rainbow or some color combo, chocolate, etc.), etc.  Basically, put out anything that has sugar in a cute little bowl or on a serving tray, and it will all come together.

about the author…Ashlynn is wife, mom of three littles, and Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Rocky Mountain College.  She is an introvert who is uncharacteristically social and loves family, learning, travel, animals, and all things Montana.