There's nothing like a cup of hot chocolate. It's rich and delicious enough to drink for dessert but you don't have to wait until after dinner to enjoy it! Hot chocolate is good any time of the day. Especially if it's cold, rainy or snowy outside.

Although there are many gourmet versions for hot chocolate that involve melting chocolate and mixing various ingredients over the stove, I prefer powdered hot chocolate. The instant variety that comes from a packet.

Instant hot chocolate is quick and easy to make and it tastes pretty good. In fact, it tastes amazing by the time I'm done with it. Because I doctor it up with gourmet flavors. And even then, it takes less time than it would if I started from scratch.

Read on for my favorite ways to customize a cup of hot chocolate. And if you prefer to make your hot chocolate from scratch, these ideas will work for that, too.

1. Milk

Glass bottles of milk.

The key to a luscious cup of hot chocolate is simply to substitute milk for the water. It will be richer, creamier, and more delicious with minimal effort. No matter which flavor I decide to use I always start with this simple trick. That's why I've listed it first.

2. Cinnamon

Cinnamon sticks, whole and ground.

Adding a little bit of cinnamon gives hot chocolate an exotic, decadent flavor. How much cinnamon depends on your personal tastes. I love cinnamon so I usually add a ½ a teaspoon. If you're not sure, add ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon to start, and then add more if desired.

3. Adult Hot Chocolate

Shots of Kahlua.

Tasty adult beverages really hit the spot now and then. And perhaps nothing lends itself to certain alcohols as hot chocolate. You can flavor it up with a shot virtually any type of schnapps (peppermint is especially delicious), Kahlua, Irish cream, or even whiskey, tequila, vodka or rum.

4. Spicy Hot Chocolate

Chili powder.

I love a little bit of spice now and then. Even in surprising places like homemade chocolate chip pancakes. Luckily, it's easy to make a spicy, sophisticated hot chocolate. SImply add a pinch of chili powder (or more, to taste), a ½ teaspoon of vanilla and a ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon. Yum.

5. Coconut Milk

Coconuts and coconut milk.

Coconut milk is creamy and delicious. It's more flavorful than cow's milk and pairs wonderfully with chocolate. Plus, it's dairy-free. Use coconut milk in place of the water or cow's milk for a vegan hot chocolate and enjoy an incredible, non-dairy treat.

6. Espresso

Espresso beans and coffee cups.

A teaspoon of instant coffee or espresso added to your hot chocolate will fill your cup with the tantalizing aromas. Best yet, it will taste just as good as it smells. Just don't drink this too close to bedtime if you're sensitive to caffeine.

7. Raspberry

Fresh raspberries.

Raspberry and chocolate are delicious companions. If you have raspberry syrup on hand just add a teaspoon to your hot chocolate and enjoy!

Toppings For Your Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate topped with marshmallows and chocolate sauce.
  • Marshmallows
  • Whipped Cream
  • Chocolate Shavings (White or Dark)
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Nutmeg
  • Orange Peels
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Candy Cane Crumbles
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Caramel Sauce
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