Sipping chocolate: Hot cocoa for grown-ups

Spike this rich indulgance, and drink it like it’s hot.
Photograph by Caroline C. Kilgore

As children we found comfort in cups of Swiss Miss hot cocoa and those dinky mini-marshmallows. But the grown-up equivalent is hot chocolate—more accurately called “sipping chocolate.” While hot cocoa is made from powder stripped of its rich cocoa butter, sipping chocolate—luxurious, intense, and served in smaller quantities­—blends melted chocolate with milk or cream. Two brands we tasted, Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Company and Trader Joe’s, made us giddy like children but satisfied our adult tastes. Both prove even more gratifying with some zippy additions: Cacao benefits from booze, and Trader Joe’s improves with a zap of spices.

Our recipe: For a single serving, ignore the instructions on the package and start with 4 tablespoons of mix and 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar for every 1/2 cup of whole milk. Virginia-Highland and Buckhead locations; cacao­

Recommended recipe: For 1 serving, add 3 tablespoons of mix for every 1/3 cup of whole milk.
Our spiced-up recipe: Add 1/8 teaspoon of five-spice powder for floral notes and/or 1/4 teaspoon of allspice powder for warmth and heat. Six metro-area locations; trader­

BOOZY IDEA #1: Add 1 teaspoon
of bourbon and,
just for fun, a strip of bacon for rich smokiness.

BOOZY IDEA #2: 1 1/2 teaspoons of Grand Marnier will add bright, orangey notes.

For a novel alternative, add 1 teaspoon of RumChata,
a liqueur that combines rum, crème, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pull back the sugar to 1 teaspoon.

This article originally appeared in our January 2014 issue under the headline “Drink It Like It’s Hot.”