A mug of spiced hot chocolate is just what you need to warm up on cold December evenings. This hot chocolate made with fresh orange zest, dark chocolate and a touch of cinnamon is thick, creamy, and simply out-of-this-world delicious!
Hot chocolate is the quintessential winter drink that warms the heart and nourishes the soul. It is a thrifty, fun, delicious and nutritious way to stay warm on a cold winter night. Last week, we had snow down here in Texas. Snow falls once in a quarter of a century here, so it was kind of a big deal for us.
We hunted down our warmest clothes, donned our mittens and hats, and went traipsing in the slippery winter wonderland. It was simply magical; so now I know why snow evokes such strong passions in humans. When we were quite chilled to the bone and couldn’t feel our noses or fingers, we huddled in the warmth of our home and sipped on mugs of hot cocoa. Such is life; simple and beautiful!
My go-to hot chocolate recipe is very simple. I use cocoa powder, which I always have on hand, whole milk and some sugar for sweetness. Depending on who it is for, I might add whipped cream, marshmallows, a swirl of coffee or a pinch of cinnamon in our mugs.
My other favorite winter food is oranges. These delicious golden orbs remind me of sunshine and all things warm on such cold evenings. So it was inevitable that I would combine my two loves and end up making orange hot chocolate.
There are so many things you can do with oranges this season. Here are a few ideas.
- Orange pound cake
- Orange crinkle cookies
- Chocolate-dipped almond orange cookies
- Orange-cinnamon braided bread
- Mulled apple cider with cranberries oranges
You can also use oranges as Christmas decor. I have been experimenting with dried orange slices and they are so much fun to make and pretty to look at. Let me know if you’d like a detailed method and I’ll try to make a post about it.
So, back to our orange hot cocoa drink now. I began by simmering whole milk with the zest of a large orange, which I then strained out. I returned the milk to the pan and added chunks of the darkest, most luscious chocolate bar. A dash of cinnamon, a pinch of salt and some sugar (because my chocolate was not too sweet) and the hot chocolate was ready. I poured it into mugs and topped them with marshmallows, though you can also add a big dollop of fresh whipped cream.
This spiced orange hot chocolate is thick and creamy, warm and orangey, smells and tastes absolutely divine. You really must make some.
Now if you do not have fresh oranges, you can add a few drops of pure orange extract or a spoonful of orange blossom water to the milk. And, if you do end up making dried orange slices, powder and preserve them to use in drinks and baked goods.
Here’s the super easy Orange Cinnamon Hot Chocolate recipe.
- Whole milk - 3 cups,
- Orange zest - 1 tbsp, from a large orange
- Dark chocolate - 3 oz (bittersweet or mildly sweet)
- Sugar - 2 tbsp (or as needed)
- Ground cinnamon - ½ tsp
- Sea salt - a pinch
- Marshmallows - for serving (optional)
- Whipped cream - for serving (optional)
- Take milk and orange zest in medium saucepan and heat gently on medium-high heat. The milk need not boil, but you should see bubbles form at the sides. Strain milk to remove the zest, pressing on them with a spoon to release as much flavor as possible.
- Return milk to the pan. Add broken pieces of chocolate and whisk on medium-high heat to dissolve the chocolate.
- Taste and add sugar if needed. Add cinnamon and sea salt.
- Pour hot chocolate drink into two large mugs. Top with marshmallows or whipped cream and serve immediately.
Sip and savor the warm, spicy-sweet goodness of this delightful orange cinnamon hot chocolate drink!
It is a great Christmas hot chocolate recipe, and imagine how lovely it would be after a cozy Valentine’s Day dinner as well!
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Do you like hot chocolate? Do you have a favorite recipe to share with me? Do try this version with orange and cinnamon, and let me know how it goes.
Go here for more recipes in my #ChristmasRecipeSeries.
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I am sharing this over at Fiesta Friday.