Drink Up December:
White Russian Hot Cocoa
December 2, 2021
Send 2021 out with a bang by enjoying Drink Up December! Five Thursdays, five cocktails perfect for chilly weather, the holiday season, and spending time with loved ones. Today, I am featuring something warm and cozy based on a classic: White Russian Hot Cocoa.
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I’ve been bouncing the idea of a warm take on a white russian around my head since last winter. Now that it’s cold outside again, I decided to lean into it with a spiked hot cocoa. I love using chocolate as a base for cocktails, and definitely consider it a “neutral” when it comes to flavors.
This drink is super cozy, but still stays true to the classic cocktail by featuring vodka, coffee liqueur, and milk of course! The milk is steamed and frothy, and there’s a little extra coffee flavor from some espresso powder.
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for this White Russian Hot Cocoa at your grocery store:
- Pantry: Hot cocoa mix (or cocoa powder, confectioners sugar, and milk powder), Espresso powder, Mini marshmallows
- Fridge: Milk of choice, Whipped cream
- From the Bar: Coffee liqueur, Vodka
- Equipment: Espresso machine or handheld milk frother, Long-handled spoon
How to Make a White Russian Hot Cocoa
We are making a true hot cocoa here, which means that this recipe uses cocoa powder, and not melted chocolate. That makes for a pretty easy drink that doesn’t involve too much work in the kitchen. It comes together quickly and easily, with just some milk steaming or frothing.
If you are making your hot cocoa mix from scratch, do that first. Simply whisk together cocoa powder, milk powder, and confectioners sugar until it’s all uniform and combined.
You can also use a homemade mix that you prepared previously or any type of store-bought hot cocoa packet or canister. Choose your favorite for the most delicious hot cocoa for you. `
Combine the hot cocoa mix with some espresso powder right in the mug you’ll be using to drink it. A sixteen-ounce mug is perfect, but you can easily scale this recipe up or down as needed for a different size.
Next, it’s time to froth up the milk. The easiest way to do this is by using an espresso machine with a built-in milk steaming wand or milk reservoir. But you can achieve a similar effect without all the fancy equipment.
Either warm the milk the microwave or on top of the stove, then use a handheld milk frother until it’s nice and foamy. Or you can add cold milk to a jar and seal it tightly. Shake the jar until it’s frothy, and then microwave it uncovered to warm it up.
Whatever way you get your milk frothed up, add about half of it to the mug with the hot cocoa mix, using a spoon to hold back any foam and just pouring in the liquid. Stir to dissolve the powder into the hot milk.
Next add in both of the liquors: coffee liqueur and vodka. You can use any brand of these you like, but my favorites both come from a local distillery in Rochester called Black Button.
If you prefer to enjoy your hot cocoa without alcohol, but you still want that coffee flavor included, you can swap it out. Just replace both the vodka and coffee liqueur with two ounces of freshly brewed coffee or espresso.
Then top with the remaining milk, and stir to combine everything together once again. Use a spoon or spatula to get any stubborn foam into the mug, creating a nice frothy texture on top of your cocoa.
Garnish your hot cocoa however you would like. My favorite way to top mine is with both whipped cream and mini marshmallows. But you can also add sparkling sugar, chocolate shavings, a chocolate sauce drizzle, or festive holiday sprinkles if you prefer.
You will want to enjoy your hot cocoa immediately, without letting it sit for too long. This does not store well, especially once it’s garnished, so I suggest making each mug to serve.
Looking for a new classic cocktail that is also warm and cozy? Try this White Russian Hot Cocoa, featuring frothy milk, vodka, and coffee liqueur.
How to Serve White Russian Hot Cocoa
Imagine curling up with a warm mug of this white russian hot cocoa and your favorite book by a roaring fireplace. Why not have some cookies to go along with it, like bourbon brown sugar cut-out cookies or double chocolate cookies stuffed with caramel.
You could also lean into the coffee and chocolate flavors when serving this cocoa for either brunch or dessert. Rocky road black bean brownies or a miso chocolate torte are perfect for a cozy evening. In the morning, enjoy sipping alongside a basket of espresso chocolate chip muffins.
Other Hot Cocoas & Chocolates
- Almond Irish Coffee Hot Cocoa
- Raspberry White Hot Chocolate (Boozy or Non-Alcoholic Recipe)
- Homemade Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon and Ancho Chile
- Chai White Hot Chocolate
- Boozy Peanut Butter Cup Hot Chocolate
More Vodka Cocktails
White Russian Hot Cocoa
- 1 Tbsp Hot Cocoa Mix heaping, see notes for homemade version
- ¼ tsp Espresso Powder
- 8 oz Milk of Choice
- 1 oz Vodka
- 1 oz Coffee Liqueur
- Whipped cream and mini marshmallows optional, for garnish
- Steam and/or froth the milk using your preferred method:- Use your espresso machine- Warm the milk the microwave or on top of the stove until about 110F, then use a handheld milk frother until foamy- Add cold milk to a jar and seal tightly, shake until it's frothy, and then microwave uncovered for 30-45 seconds.
- In a 16oz mug, combine the hot cocoa mix and espresso powder. Top with half of the steamed milk, using a spoon the hold back the foam. Stir until the powders have dissolved.
- Add in the vodka and coffee liqueur. Then top with the remaining milk, and stir to combine.
- Garnish as desired with whipped cream and mini marshmallows and serve immediately.
- Make ahead tip: This does not store well, especially once garnished. I suggest making this to serve.
- Homemade hot cocoa: Whisk together 1 Tbsp cocoa powder, 2 tsp milk powder, and 1/2 Tbsp confectioners sugar until combined. This makes 2 servings.
- Make it without alcohol: Replace both the vodka and coffee liqueur with two ounces of brewed coffee or espresso.