Hot Chocolate is a favorite drink this time of year. With all the skating and skiing here in the Midwest U.S. a warm cozy drink is a necessity. Nothing feels better than wrapping your hands around a warm, steamy mug after a jaunt in the snow. Add a few marshmallows and a candy cane and you have a real cup of joy. But where does it come from?

 An Abbreviated History of Hot Chocolate

As much as we enjoy it in the winter, as a compliment to our cold weather, it is surprising to learn that hot chocolate originates in Mexico. As early as 500 BC the Mayans were drinking their own version of crushed cocoa seeds, water, and chilis. Of course, they drank theirs cold. (1) The word chocolate itself derives from the Mayan word xocoatl. (2)
From Mexico, drinking chocolate traveled to Spain with the explorer Cortez in the early 1500s. It was there that the drink began being served hot, and sugar was added. The elite of the Spanish court kept the drink secret for around 100 years. But, eventually, the drink made its way to Europe. (3) Once it reached England the addition of milk to make the drink creamy became popular.

 Hot Chocolate Today

All the way from cold and flavored with chilis, to warm, creamy and sweet, hot chocolate has seen many different iterations. Nowadays we love to get creative with the flavors and the sugary sweet additions like marshmallows. The recipes and flavor combinations are endless.
While many of us think of hot chocolate as a dessert, it does actually have some health properties. Cocoa has many antioxidants and helps with indigestion. The Mayans often used it to aid stomach maladies. It also contains phenylethylamine, which is a known mood enhancer. (3)
Did you know hot chocolate and hot cocoa aren’t the same? While they are, in general, interchangeable terms, there are differences. Hot Chocolate comes from actual, melted chocolate. It is usually characterized as being thicker and richer than hot cocoa. Hot cocoa, made from sweetened cocoa powder, is thinner and sweeter. (4) Who knew right?!
Now that you know a little more about this great drink, forgo the powdered cocoa. Get back to basics and try the real thing. You can really wow your guests this winter season with a warm gourmet treat. Need some ideas? Check out the collection of recipes below. Click on the images for the details.
Nutella Hot Chocolate |
Nutella Hot Chocolate
 Who doesn’t love Nutella? How could it not be better with warm, melted chocolate! Cafe Delites is responsible for this cup of goodness.
Butterbeer Hot Chocolate
Butterbeer Hot Chocolate
I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so a fandom themed drink sounds like the greatest thing ever! Thanks to the creative genius of Darla at for this one!
S'mores Hot Chocolate + Charity Water E-Cookbook #minimalistbaker
S’Mores Hot Chocolate

A favorite dessert in a mug, amazing! Thanks to #minimalistbaker for this gorgeous and tasty work of art.

Have a favorite recipe of your own? Share it with us!


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75 comments on “Hot Chocolate, What You Need to Know (with Recipes!)”

  1. Hot chocolate is one of my favorite way to warm up, relax and enjoy a morning, afternoon or evening. Love theme drinks and these sound wonderful. Never really thought about how hot chocolate came about.

  2. It is amazing that a drink that was created 500 years ago remains popular around the world. I’m a big fan of hot chocolate and I love mine with a dash of coffee.

  3. Those pictures are making me crave hot chocolate! I’m incredibly lucky because as a vegan, hot chocolate is still massively available to me, whereas my first thoughts were that I would have to give it up all together haha! Have you come across a vegan recipe that you liked at all? 💚

  4. I LOVE hot chocolate! The history of it was interesting. I think I learned most of it in a Mexican cooking book I got once but it didn’t have the word chocolate being derived from a Mayan word. The book did have the best recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate I’ve ever had.

  5. Those mugs of hot chocolate all look so beautiful, mine never looks that good! 😉 We love warming up with hot cocoa after playing in the snow, I actually think it’s the only reason why my kids play outside when it is super cold, LOL.

  6. I never knew the history of chocolate. It was interesting to learn about it. Thanks for sharing! My kids and I look forward to the cold so that we can drink hot chocolate it is a family tradition. LOL

  7. As my nephew would say, “HOT HOT CHOCOLATE!” lol I’m currently sipping on a cup and it’s delicious. I’ve never tried it with Nutella before so now I’m curious. Happy Holidays!

  8. I love myself a hot chocolate and some of these look amazingly tasty. But for some reason, I have never put marshmellow in my hot chocolate. I am really late! 🙂

  9. Such a cool post! And so timely considering it seems like the whole nation is covered in snow! Need to make some tonight!

  10. Hot chocolate is a standard “comfort” this time of year! I’d love a way to kick it up a notch to the adult beverage level. Any more great ideas?

  11. i’ve always wanted to try the butterbeer hot chocolate! the origins & history is pretty cool to know – i’ll have something to impress my boyfriend with next time he wants a hot chocolate – a new recipe and a history lesson, ha!

  12. Oh wow! I did not know all of that about hot chocolate! Now I can feel even better about drinking it..and a little smarter to boot! Great info! It’s a must have drink in this brutal winter we’re having so far!

  13. Really interesting! I didn’t know that it was from Mexico and I didn’t know the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate. Regardless, I like them both!!!

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