I’ve written about a number of my family’s holiday traditions here on PWWB over the years (ahem, Christmas Eve Lasagna, Individual Beef Wellington, ahem…), but today I’m sharing my all-time, most favorite & treasured family tradition – Christmas Morning Cocoa.
At our house, Christmas morning is relatively quiet. We stay cozily tucked in bed as long as my niece & nephew allow it. But as soon as we hear their little whispers & tiny feet romping around the Christmas tree, we know it’s on: time to wish each other ‘Merry Christmas’, time to tear into the perfectly wrapped presents, & time for Aunt Jess to make a big pot of Christmas Morning Cocoa.
This Christmas Morning Hot Chocolate recipe is…
- SERIOUSLY INDULGENT. Yes, seriously. This cocoa is unapologetically decadent, rich, ultra-chocolatey, & super rich. There’s nothing light about it & that’s one of the reasons why we love it so much. It’s a once-a-year hot cocoa & it’s seriously perfect for a special occasion like Christmas morning.
- MADE WITH SIMPLE INGREDIENTS. Made with milk, heavy cream, bittersweet chocolate, & a few other pantry staples.
- EASY TO THROW TOGETHER. It’s so easy to make hot chocolate from scratch on the stovetop!
- VERSATILE. We keep things simple, topping with freshly whipped cream & shaved chocolate (& marshmallows for the kids!), but you can dress your Christmas hot chocolate up with other flavors, spike it, or set up a Christmas hot cocoa bar. I have some serving ideas included below!
- A TREASURED TRADITION. I don’t really know when or how we decided that this decadent, rich & creamy hot chocolate was the Christmas hot chocolate. But, at some point in the last 10 years we did &, man oh man, I’m not one tiny bit upset about it. I’m so excited to share it with you this holiday season!
Did I mention it’s majorly Santa approved?! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Christmas Hot Chocolate recipe, or jump straight to the recipe & get sippin’!
The Key Ingredients for Christmas Morning Cocoa
Nobody has time for complex on Christmas morning! That’s one of the reasons I love this homemade cocoa recipe so much. It’s made with 5 key ingredients – nothing crazy! – & a number of them are pantry staples.
You will need…
- Milk & heavy cream – Yes, both! I use whole milk to make sure our Christmas hot chocolate is extra creamy, but if you’d like to lighten things up a little bit, you can definitely use low-fat.
- Chocolate – We’re big fans of dark chocolate at my house, so I like using bittersweet chocolate. Guittard Bittersweet Baking Wafers are my favorite to use in this hot cocoa recipe. If you prefer semisweet or milk chocolate, feel free to use it in this recipe!
- Vanilla extract – The littlest bit adds a hint of aromatic sweetness to the cocoa, offsetting the richness of the chocolate.
- Sweetened condensed milk – The secret ingredient! Sweetened condensed milk does double duty in this hot chocolate recipe, adding a bit of sweetness (without being cloyingly sweet) & thickening it up into a perfectly creamy cocoa.
That’s it! Pretty simple, right?
How to Make Hot Cocoa (From Scratch!)
Building off the simplicity of its ingredients, this Christmas Hot Chocolate couldn’t be simpler to throw together. It’s a one-pot operation, & takes about 15 minutes, start to finish.
Simply combine all of the ingredients in a pot & heat on the stovetop, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is melted & the cocoa is thickened & smooth.
Christmas Hot Chocolate Serving Ideas
The best part about Christmas morning cocoa? Pouring it into a cozy mug & diving on in!
A few serving ideas:
- Keep it classic – Which is just how we like it at my house! We top our Christmas hot chocolate with freshly whipped cream & shaved chocolate. I always like to keep some marshmallows on hand for the kids, too.
- or, jazz it up! Get creative & have fun with it! Add in espresso powder or coffee to make the best mocha you’ll ever have, or add a little peppermint extract (& garnish with crushed peppermint candies) for festive peppermint hot chocolate vibes. Drizzle in some salted caramel for extra sweetness (salted caramel hot cocoa is to.die.for!) or stir in peanut butter or tahini for a nutty twist. You get the idea – have fun with it!
- Make it boozy! A little splash of Bailey’s never hurt anyone…just saying!
- Set up a Christmas Hot Cocoa Bar – Or, make it a choose your own adventure. Set up a hot chocolate bar with plenty of toppings (whipped cream, marshmallows, shaved chocolate & more) & mix-ins (coffee, flavored syrups, nut butter, booze), & let your family + friends mix up their own creations. You seriously can’t go wrong!
Decadent, festive, creamy, dreamy, majorly chocolatey cocoa bliss! My family treasures our Christmas Hot Chocolate, & I know yours will love it too.
If you give it a try, be sure to let me know!: Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡Print
Decadent, ultra-chocolatey & extra creamy Christmas Hot Chocolate! Homemade hot cocoa is made from scratch with milk, heavy cream, bittersweet chocolate, & a few other pantry staples. Majorly Santa-approved!
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- one (1) 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chips or finely chopped)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- optional: 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- for serving, as desired: freshly whipped cream, shaved chocolate, crushed peppermint candies
- Prepare the hot chocolate: Add all listed ingredients (milk, cream, sweetened condensed milk, chocolate, vanilla, salt) to medium pot or saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring the mixture to a very light simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the hot cocoa is smooth; the cocoa will thicken some as it simmers.
- Serve immediately, topped as desired. We like our Christmas Cocoa topped with lots of freshly whipped cream & shaved chocolate. Marshmallows always encouraged. Enjoy!
Keywords: Christmas hot chocolate, hot cocoa, homemade, creamy, thick
Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.
Planning your holiday menu or need some Christmas inspiration? Here are a few more festive Christmas recipes to try this year!
- For the main event: Keep things classic with Citrus & Maple Glazed Ham or make something extra special & festive, like Christmas Eve Lasagna, or Individual Beef Wellington
- For your sweet tooth: Reilly Family Peppermint Brownies, Dark Chocolate Covered Stuffed Pretzels, Tahini Buckeyes, or Chai Scones
- And for the cheese lovers!: Bejeweled Holiday Goat Cheese or Goat Cheese Truffles
- Boozy drinks to keep spirits high: Smoky Spiked Coconut Chai Latte or Bourbon Ginger Cider Cocktails
- All PWWB Christmas Recipes