This easy spiked hot chocolate recipe is an easy to make sweet indulgence. The spirits take it up a level for an adult hot chocolate that will warm you to your toes on a chilly night, yet it's easily made a non-alcoholic hot chocolate for kids. It doubles as dessert and a cozy winter drink in winter months, with a variety of spirit options.
Why This Recipe Works
- It's warming, rich, and chocolaty
- It's the perfect drink for snuggling around a warm fire to take the chill off.
- It's made with two terrific liqueurs; Bailey's and Amaretto, but you can make it alcohol-free or vary the spirits.
- Make it without the booze if preferred (or for kids).
- Options for spirits and fun garnishes below.
See recipe card for quantities. Easy spiked hot chocolate has simple ingredients with lots of options to customize, much better than a packaged hot cocoa mix.
- Whole milk: Whole milk provides a smoother, richer drink and creamy hot chocolate versus low fat, plus you'll add whipped cream on top for more richness that melts in.
- Cocoa powder: Buy unsweetened cocoa and sweeten to your preferred level. Two options are the "dutched" cocoa powder treated with alkali, or natural cocoa powder which is unprocessed. Learn more abut cocoa powder below.
- Heavy whipping cream: For an optional whipped cream topping, or use coconut milk for non-dairy. Buy a small container and whip it yourself (or use the canned stuff).
- Spirits: A combination of Amaretto liqueur (almond flavor) and Bailey's Irish Cream (the original is a blend of Irish whiskey, cream, chocolate and vanilla) work well. See options below for other spirits that go well with chocolate or use your favorite liquor.
- Vanilla extract: Buy real vanilla extract, not artificial vanilla. Vanilla paste works too.
Toppings: So Many Options
Choose your favorite topping. Grated nutmeg, crushed peppermints, shaved chocolate or white chocolate, and sprinkle of cinnamon (or a whole cinnamon stick) or a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Some people love mini marshmallows, mini chocolate chips, or candy canes. Choose your favorites.
- For a vegan or non-dairy hot chocolate, use almond milk or oat milk for the base and top with coconut whipped cream. Use diluted, canned whole coconut milk for a truly rich indulgence.
- Substitute homemade almond milk for the best flavor, and use the rest for a morning smoothie.
- Go alcohol-free for kids version, make hot chocolate with whole milk, cocoa, cinnamon, and a little vanilla along with a little sweetener, skipping the liqueurs.
- For no sugar, use monk fruit or a monk-fruit based syrup.
Liqueur and Spirit Variations
If Bailey's Irish Cream or Amaretto are not your thing, there are lots of options for liqueurs and spirits in easy spiked hot chocolate. Try dark rum, peppermint schnapps, bourbon, creme de menthe (minty), whiskey, Kahlua, Frangelico (hazelnut flavored), or Nocello (walnut), Chambord (black raspberry), chocolate liqueur, coffee liqueur, or vanilla vodka.
Chef's tip: Go slow adding liqueurs and spirits as they are strong. Start with a little, less than you think, then add to get to the right level for yourself. It doesn't take much.
In a small saucepan, heat milk over medium heat bring it to just under a boil. Whisk in the cocoa powder, sweetener, and cinnamon until smooth. Add the spirits to each glass, pour in the hot chocolate, then top with whipped cream and add any desired garnishes. Simple!
Cocoa Powder Tips
You'll find two main types of cocoa powder: dutched and natural. Dutched cocoa powder mixes easier with liquid and is darker colored. Natural is lighter colored but higher in nutrition from higher flavanols. Both provide rich chocolate flavor.
There are many good brands. I've used Hershey's cocoa (available everywhere), Valhrona cocoa powder, and Ghirardelli cocoa powder. For organic, try Navitas.
Is it cocoa or cacao? Here's an article with a good explanation. Store cocoa powder in an airtight container in a cool pantry and it lasts for about 3 years.
Hot Chocolate Bar For a Party
For holiday parties and a batch to serve a crowd, do this. Make plain hot chocolate in a larger pot on the stovetop, then keep it hot in a slow cooker. Make it with no liquor and allow guests to add or not.
Set up a fun bar with the spirits and garnishes (see below) and allow guests to add what they want. If you don't want to buy big bottles of booze, buy small or airline size.
To sweeten your hot chocolate try the following:
- Agave syrup
- Rice bran syrup
- Monk fruit blend - either granular or powdered
- Unrefined sugar
- Organic coconut sugar - adds a caramel flavor
- Chocolate liquid stevia drops
- Keto sugar-free simple syrup
Serving Options and Garnishes
Here are garnish ideas for serving for spiked hot chocolate:
- Whipped cream
- A sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, or warm spices
- Cinnamon sticks
- Mini marshmallows
- Candy canes, sticks or crushed peppermint
- Chocolate shavings (use a zester)
- Chocolate sprinkles or mini chocolate chips
Whipped Cream Notes
Hot chocolate just would not be the same without whipped cream topping. Use a hand mixer or an immersion blender to whip your own. Add a little vanilla and sweetener first. For the easy way, get a can of real whipped cream. Read the label for icky ingredients (like partially hydrogenated oils).
I use a neat tool called an Isi Thermo Whipper. It’s a cool kitchen tool and bit of an indulgence, but you can do a lot more with it than just whip cream or coconut milk (for vegan or dairy-free).
Whole cow's milk for the rich creamy taste, but you can use oat milk, homemade almond milk, or a combo if you don't do dairy. Even low fat milk works. Don't make it with water, its too thin and you lose the creaminess. Macadamia milk is another good option. Read ingredients for any additives.
It is without the alcohol, for sure. Chocolate is a good source of flavanols, a category of phytonutrients, with health benefits. Natural cocoa powder offers more benefits than Dutched or processed cocoa powder. Other factors are type of sweetener and type of milk, but yes, it can be healthy. Here's a good article.
Once again, it's the flavanols but also other beneficial chemicals. Many consider hot chocolate as a sleep-promoting beverage as cocoa can help to lower blood pressure (here's an interesting study).
More Chocolaty Recipes
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Easy Spiked Hot Chocolate
Basic hot chocolate
- 2 cups whole milk sub coconut, oat, or almond milk
- 3-4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar or preferred sweetener add to taste
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon optional
Whipped cream (optional)
- ¾ cup heavy cream well chilled, then whipped
Optional spirits (see notes below for more options)
- 2-3 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
- 2-3 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream liqueur
- Grated nutmeg, crushed peppermints, shaved chocolate, ground cinnamon, chocolate sprinkles
- In a small to medium saucepan, bring milk to just under a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Whisk in the cocoa powder, sweetener and cinnamon until smooth.
- Add half of each liqueur into two tall mugs (skip for kids). Carefully pour in the hot chocolate. Top with a little whipped cream, or a lot! Garnish as desired.
Simply Tia says
This is so rich, decadent and right up my alley. Another of your recipes that I'll be making!
Sally Cameron says
Thanks Tia! Hope you enjoy!
This IS indulgent, and I agree, it would make a great dessert (so easy). I've been making your version of hot chocolate (without the booze and cream) this winter as a snack when I crave something sweet. I've pared it down to skim milk and very little sweetener (calorie watching!) and once I got past the skim milk, I found it to be a great afternoon pick-me-up. How lucky for you to get a break--sounds fab!! Lately business trips by my spouse involve New Jersey, not quite the same 🙂
Agreed Sally! I should have made a note. For a skinny and less indulgent version, use low fat milk and skip the liquor. I also want to make hot chocolate with my homemade almond milk, add a little vanilla and agave or stevia. No whipped cream. That would be a pretty healthy version.