Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate

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As the weather gets chilly (even in Southern California) and Christmas approaches, I start wanting hot chocolate. One of my fondest winter memories is of a blizzard we had in upstate New York, when my college friends and I played in the snow, then made hot chocolate by simmering whole milk and Hershey’s cocoa powder on the stove.

If you order hot chocolate in a restaurant or coffee shop, it’s most likely made with cow’s milk. But I just found and tested a simple and outrageously delicious hot chocolate recipe that uses coconut milk instead, so I can now make dairy-free hot chocolate at home. Hallelujah!

Here’s what I love about this hot chocolate:

  • It’s thick and creamy, not watery like instant hot chocolate.
  • The chocolate flavor is intense enough to balance the coconut flavor of the milk. (Even my husband liked it, and he hates coconut.)
  • It’s not too sweet, and just the right amount of bitter.

The recipe, which I found on the New York Times website, originally called for a meringue topping, but I omitted that part because I’m lazy. Besides, this hot chocolate is so decadent, you really don’t need to gild the lily. Although I am thinking about adding some Frangelico or Kahlua to it next time…

For this recipe, I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder, Kara Coconut Milk, and Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips.

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Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate Recipe

Adapted from a recipe by Melissa Clark.

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
13 to 15 ounces full-fat coconut milk
¼ cup brown sugar
Pinch salt
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour 1/3 cup boiling water into a heat-proof measuring cup. Stir in cocoa powder until it dissolves.

In a saucepan, combine coconut milk, brown sugar, and salt. Simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Whisk in hot cocoa and chocolate chips until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Makes 2 to 4 servings.

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