Homemade Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon and Ancho Chile
February 2, 2021
Listen, it’s winter. It’s cold and snowy here and it’s not letting up any time soon. And when that happens there’s only one thing on my mind: hot chocolate. It’s rich, and warm, and cozy. Plus you can turn it up a notch by adding some extra spicy flavors. You are sure to love the spice of cinnamon and ancho chile in this homemade hot chocolate.
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Any standard mug of hot chocolate will warm you up inside and instantly transport you back to the winter days of childhood. But there is a little something extra that the kick of a chile pepper adds into the mix. The temperature of the cocoa accentuates the flavor of the pepper. Meanwhile, the heat of the pepper helps balance the heavy richness of the melted chocolate.
Plus there’s evidence that using hot peppers in hot chocolate was a common way to prepare the beverage in early Mesoamerica. Both chilis and chocolate originate in the American tropics, and often, plants that grow together go together. If you’re not familiar with the timeless combination, here’s your chance to try it out.
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for this spicy hot chocolate at your grocery store. You can also order online using Amazon Fresh for grocery delivery.
- Fridge: Heavy cream, Milk
- Spice Rack: Cinnamon sticks, Ancho chile powder, Cinnamon
- Pantry: Dark chocolate, Mini marshmallows
- Equipment: Hand mixer, Chocolatera or saucepan, Molinillo or standard whisk
How to Make Homemade Spiced Hot Chocolate
Before getting started with this hot chocolate, make the whipped cream. This can take a little bit of time, but it’s okay to sit aside while the cocoa is cooking. Add the cream to a medium bowl or 16-ounce mason jar.
Then use a hand mixer with the whisk attachment to begin mixing. Start at low speed to avoid splashing, and then gradually increase to high. The whipped cream is ready when the peaks hold their own shape.
Next, decide whether you are going to use the traditional chocolatera and a molinillo whisk, or if you prefer to use a standard pot and whisk. Either way, your hot chocolate will be super rich and delicious! Trust me, you’re in for a real treat.
Add the milk and cinnamon sticks into your pot or chocolatera, and begin cooking over medium heat, stirring gently and occasionally. As the milk heats up, the cinnamon sticks will open up and infuse their delicious flavor into it.
You can use any kind of milk for this, depending on how rich you want your final drink to be. Whole milk will be thicker and heavier than using skim. I haven’t tried using plant milk alternatives in this recipe, but they are probably delicious.
Continue cooking until the milk is just bubbling lightly. The goal is to bring the milk to a simmer, but stop before it reaches a full boil, which can scald the milk and easily boil over. Once simmering, turn off the heat, and then use tongs to remove the cinnamon sticks.
With the heat off, add in the chopped chocolate. For a more intense chile flavor in your drink, you can use a spiced chocolate, like Taza Chocolate guajillo chili flavor. However, if you prefer it more mild, regular dark chocolate (around 60-80%) will work perfectly.
Stir the chocolate pieces into the hot milk, and they will begin to melt and become smooth. Use the whisk to stir and keep it from sticking to the bottom of the chocolatera. If you’re using a nonstick pot, be sure not to use a metal whisk. Instead, you may want to stir with a wooden spoon for this step, and switch to a whisk for frothing.
Add in the chile powder to taste. If you are not sure about the spice level, start with less than recommended. Stir it in, and give the cocoa a taste. Then, if needed, add a bit more. This way you can make sure the amount of spice is perfect for you.
Once everything is combined and smooth, turn the heat back onto medium. If using a molinillo whisk, hold it vertically in the chocolatera, between your palms with the intricate, carved end facing down and submerged. Roll the whisk between your palms quickly, as the milk begins to froth.
If you are using a standard whisk, quickly move it back and forth to create a frothy mixture. Either way, it should take a few minutes, but you will start to see small foamy bubbles on top of the hot chocolate. Continue whisking until it reaches your desired level of frothiness.
Pour the hot chocolate into two mugs, but be sure to leave a little bit of space at the top. Add big spoonfuls of the whipped cream. Or if you’d like it to be fancier, add the whipped cream to a piping bag and create a fun spiral. Garnish each mug with mini marshmallows and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.
Up your homemade hot chocolate game by using traditional techniques, and including flavors like cinnamon and ancho chile for an extra kick!
How to Serve Spicy Hot Chocolate
You probably don’t need to think of a good excuse or a full meal to build around this hot chocolate. If you’re anything like me, then this is something that you’ll whip up and drink just because you feel like it. Or because you looked out the window and saw snow.
But if you’re looking for some complimentary treats, I can’t blame you. Play up the chocolate flavor by pairing this with some fun desserts like rocky road black bean brownies or peanut butter mousse double chocolate cookie cups. For something lighter to balance the rich flavors, try cinnamon roll cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
Don’t forget to try out some other warm beverages this winter! Chai white hot chocolate and hot pear cider are both super cozy. Or for more of a kick, try a boozy peanut butter cup hot chocolate or pecan pie hot buttered rum.
Use Up Leftover Ingredients
Homemade Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon & Ancho Chile
- 2 oz Heavy Cream
- 2 ½ Cups Milk
- 2 Cinnamon Sticks
- 3 oz Dark Chocolate roughly chopped, see note
- ¼-½ tsp Ancho Chile Powder to taste
- Cinnamon and mini marshmallows for garnish
- In a medium bowl or jar, use the whisk attachment on a hand mixer to whip the heavy cream, starting at low and gradually increasing to high, until it holds its own shape. Set aside.
- Combine the milk and cinnamon sticks in a chocolatera or medium saucepan, and cook over medium heat until just bubbling lightly, stopping before it reaches a full boil. Turn off the heat, and use tongs to remove the cinnamon sticks.
- Add in the chopped chocolate and stir using the whisk to keep it from sticking to the bottom until fully melted. Then add in the chile powder to taste.
- Turn the heat back on medium, and hold the molinillo whisk vertically, between your palms with the intricate, carved end in the hot chocolate. Roll the whisk between your palms quickly, as the milk begins to froth. If using basic equipment, quickly whisk back and forth to create a frothy mixture.
- Pour the hot chocolate into two mugs, leaving a little bit of space at the top. Add spoonfuls of the whipped cream, and garnish with mini marshmallows and ground cinnamon as desired. Serve immediately.