Homemade hot cocoa is a great way to warm up after spending time outside in the cold. But after a long day skiing, skating, or making snowmen with the kids, who wants to haul out the pots and pans just to make a hot cup of cocoa? Thank goodness we now have slow cooker recipes for DIY hot chocolate.
This triple chocolate crockpot recipe is just like having a gourmet hot cocoa mix, only better! Make it with organic cacao and fair trade chocolate, so you can feel good about your impact on the earth and on cacao growers. Set up your slow cooker before you go out to play, and you’ll have a batch of really good hot chocolate waiting when you come in from the cold.
Triple Chocolate Hot Cocoa Slow Cooker Recipe
chocolate, orange, or coffee-flavoured liqueur (optional, for spiked hot chocolate recipe)
whipped cream or milk foam
dark chocolate sauce or caramel sauce
cocoa powder, cinnamon or salt
Place first 8 ingredients in the slow cooker and mix. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, stirring about once every hour to prevent sticking. (If you’re going to be away from home and can’t stir, start the hot chocolate an hour before you need to leave and stir once before going out.) If you’re just out in the yard with the kids, do try to come in occasionally to stir. This is the only thing you really have to do once you’ve measured the ingredients out and set the crockpot.
Ladle homemade hot chocolate into mugs and top with whipped cream. Drizzle on a bit of chocolate or caramel sauce. Sprinkle with a pinch of cocoa or cinnamon.
For salted caramel hot chocolate: Substitute caramel sauce with caramel sauce and sprinkle with a bit of pink Himalayan salt.
For boozy hot chocolate: Pour a shot of liqueur into the bottom of a mug and top up with hot cocoa. Add whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and cocoa powder as desired.
Vegan-friendly hot cocoa: Replace the milk with your favourite milk alternative, and use full-fat coconut milk instead of the half-and-half. Make up a batch of whipped coconut cream at the last minute, to top the hot chocolate. But wait! Is chocolate vegan-friendly? It is if you choose a brand that’s made with healthy, plant-sourced oils and no dairy ingredients. Try Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips or Chocolove’s 77% Extra Strong Dark chocolate bar. If you choose a different brand of chocolate, just check the ingredients to be sure everything is plant-based before you buy.
Tips for Making Really Good Hot Chocolate
Don’t replace real cocoa powder with hot chocolate mix, as prepared drink mixes have less cocoa goodness and include added sugar, milk solids, and other ingredients. If you want to make vegan-friendly hot cocoa, it should be obvious why it’s important not to be adding in those milk solids especially. Cocoa powder itself is safe for vegans, but you have to watch the commercial hot cocoa mixes (as well as your chocolate chips) for dairy and lecithin sourced from eggs.
If you want to drink hot chocolate for the health benefits, use the best organic cacao powder you can get. Avoid Dutch-processed cocoa, as the alkalization it undergoes significantly reduces the flavonoids that you’re after.
Hot Cocoa Nutrition
Hot chocolate is a treat, and it’s important for us to think of it that way. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that drinks supply calories, carbs and fats to our diet, and not just foods. So please remember to limit your portion and to only drink hot cocoa occasionally. This is especially true if you choose to make a boozy hot chocolate, where the empty calories from the alcohol are going to piggy back on the hot cocoa itself.
While some sources claim that chocolate contains only trace amounts of most vitamins and minerals, there are others that show both cocoa powder and dark chocolate being quite rich in minerals. I’m reproducing the nutritional tables here for you to see for yourself that both have a significant amount of magnesium, iron, and potassium in a 100 g serving. Cocoa powder also has a large amount of dietary fibre and a good bit of calcium.
Dark Chocolate Benefits
According to Healthline, a 100 g serving of 70-85% chocolate provides 98% of the RDA for manganese, as well as 89% for copper, 67% for iron, and 58% for magnesium. There are also significant amounts of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and fibre. The Mayo Clinic reports that research has linked eating chocolate to a lower risk of diabetes, stroke and heart attack.
Of course, all those pure dark chocolate benefits come with about 600 calories and a significant amount of sugar and fat. There may also be a risk from the oxalate in chocolate, which can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
More Research into Chocolate Needed
There is still a lot more research needed to better document the cacao antioxidant benefits, as well as the possible detriments of eating chocolate. In the meantime, the best chocolate to eat is dark chocolate, which tends to have more minerals and heart-healthy flavanols as well as lower amounts of fat and carbs. Adding real cocoa powder (not chocolate drink mix) to already healthy foods like low-fat milk or yogurt or a bowl of overnight oats is another good way to add chocolate to your diet. This allows you to get the dark cocoa powder benefits without the added sugar and fat.
December 13 is National Cocoa Day, so why not celebrate the occasion with a hot cup of cocoa? 24 Carrot Diet’s triple chocolate hot cocoa with milk offers the health benefits of both dark chocolate and cocoa powder, while the semi-sweet chocolate mellows the flavour of the cocoa for children and those who aren’t fans of dark chocolate. It’s a hot, creamy drink that you don’t have to feel guilty about!
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Original content © 2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
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