It’s that time of year when we need to get serious about one very important thing: hot chocolate! I’m not a fan of temperatures below 70 degrees (maaaaybe high 60s is okay) and indulging in really good vegan cacao hot chocolate is one of the small ways I make cold late-fall and winter days more enjoyable.
This almond milk-based cinnamon cacao hot chocolate is Aaron and my go-to dessert at least a few times a week, usually enjoyed by our fireplace in the evenings (one of the best things about our condo) but sometimes in the afternoon when golden hour happens at 3pm and I’m seriously dragging. You can use regular cocoa powder, although we like it best with rich, raw cacao powder. Raw cacao is great because it’s alkalinizing and brimming with antioxidants, and it tastes even better with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, a splash of vanilla, and a little pure maple syrup to sweeten it up. I add the ingredients straight into my saucepan, whisk to combine, and then heat it on the stove. It takes five minutes, and hooray! There’s only one pan to clean.
You can enjoy your cacao hot chocolate as-is, dress it up with a few vegan marshmallows, or add a dollop of coconut whipped cream and some dark chocolate shavings. I love the coconut whip and chocolate shavings combo, although I have a sweet spot for those cute mini marshmallows too.
- 3 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
- ¼ cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of fine sea salt
- vegan marshmallows
- coconut whipped cream, store-bought or homemade (see Notes for recipe)
- finely chopped dark chocolate
- Add all of the hot chocolate ingredients to a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Warm over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Taste and adjust the sweetness if desired. Serve with marshmallows, coconut whip and/or dark chocolate if you like.
1 (14 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk*, refrigerated for 24 hours
2 tablespoons organic powdered sugar
Open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the top layer of solid coconut cream into the bowl of a stand mixer. (side note: save the remaining coconut liquid for smoothies!) Mix the coconut cream and powdered sugar on low speed until combined, then crank it up to high speed for 1 more minute until light and fluffy.
Leftover coconut whipped cream can be stored in a container in the fridge for 5-7 days. The whipped cream will harden when cold, so mix it on high speed until it’s light and airy again before using.
*Be sure to stay away from coconut milks with stabilizers and gums because the cream won't separate from the liquid even when refrigerated. I've found that the Aroy-D brand tends to produce reliably good results.
For the marshmallows, I usually buy Dandies brand, but Trader Joe's also sells vegan marshmallows in regular and mini sizes (and I'm pretty sure they are Dandies too)!