If there’s one thing that consistently takes the edge off the arrival of colder weather, it’s hot chocolate. You may shudder at the idea of breaking out the holiday sweaters and double-thick socks, but then you smile thinking about all the ways to warm yourself up with cocoa. We have plenty of smart ways to make your hot chocolate even tastier. Here are a few of our favorites.
Let’s start with the classic, hand-crafted mini vanilla marshmallows that come with this excellent French-inspired cocoa mix. (Of course, if you prefer to have all your hot chocolate fixings waiting in your mailbox or are in the market for a gift delivery, we understand. All you need to do is decide whether the hot chocolate lover in question is a salted caramel cocoa, peppermint cocoa, or dark cocoa person.)
If the idea of a peppermint extract-spiked cocoa is just too much, we understand! Consider simply adding peppermint marshmallows. These combine cocoa and mint for the subtlest approach around, but if you prefer a hit-you-over-the-head approach, check out our peppermint hot chocolate, which comes with vanilla marshmallows.
Speaking of dainty peppermint accents for your next wintry mug of cocoa, there is nothing like serving cocoa with chocolate-dipped peppermint “North poles.” They’re the most delicate way to add a note of mint, and another of real chocolate, to your cocoa. (It’s a smart way to keep kids from drinking the stuff when it’s piping-hot, too, as it gives them something to do while they wait!)
For a wonderfully over-the-top mug topper, these gingerbread houses are pretty tough to beat. Buy one for the one you love with a winter birthday, or make a special occasion of it for family or friends by snagging a trio of them. These are real miniature gingerbread houses, with an icy blue snowflake over the door, white “windows” on its sides, and a sparkling sugar roof.
Children will flip for Santa hat mug toppers. Just as tasty on apple cider as they are on cocoa, each is hand-decorated with classic royal icing, and features our most delicious, molasses-spiked house gingerbread recipe.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, right into your mug of chocolate. These adorable little marshmallows will melt almost as quickly as the real thing, and they’re an excellent way to turn a ho-hum last course of cocoa into a really lovely finish to a meal.
Don’t feel like braving the frigid cold to make snowmen and snow women? Not to worry; just plunk snowmen on sticks into your warming winter drinks. Kids will delightedly shriek as they melt away, leaving nothing but delicious, handcrafted marshmallow in their cocoa.
Speaking of wonderfully weird, there’s nothing like having bobbing, smiling snowman heads in your mug of hot chocolate. These Belgian confections are delightful, and feature chocolate eyes and mouths and bright-orange icing noses.
Beloved by readers, our peppermint bark features custom-blended Guittard chocolate and triple-distilled oil of peppermint. Master candy makers melted dark chocolate on a marble table, top it with a layer of creamy white chocolate, and finish with a flurry of handmade peppermint candy pieces. Top each mug with whipped cream, break off small pieces of bark, use it to stud each mug, and be thrilled with the effect.
We’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite between the bark and these cookies, which employ the same signature ingredients and a thin, crisp wafer cookie. It’s easy to perch one of these slender discs on the side of a mug or serve them on a pretty plate alongside.
Sometimes it’s the look of the cocoa that really makes it elegant. There’s not much better than these Guittard chocolate, vanilla dough, peppermint-spiked wafer cookies. Rolled paper thin, they add the most subtle notes of vanilla, chocolate and peppermint. If you’re gilding the lily that is a perfect drink, this is one of many smart ways to do so.