DIY Food

How to Make Sipping Chocolate

January  9, 2015

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Don't be surprised if this incredibly rich Mexican sipping chocolate from Heather Hands at Flourishing Foodie becomes your go-to winter beverage (it makes the perfect fireplace companion).

Sipping Chocolate

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I am a sucker for anything chocolate, and I’m not very particular about the variety. I can appreciate and recognize a good chocolate, but I’ll never turn my nose to a Twix, a Kit Kat, or even one of those giant rabbit-shaped chocolates the Easter bunny used to hide behind my bed (because it really was a good hiding spot). I never go a day without at least a piece of chocolate -- I find that it helps lower my stress levels and, overall, just makes me feel really good. Sometimes I’ll have a nice piece of dark 70% chocolate with a full-bodied glass of red wine, while other times I’ll enjoy a creamy piece of milk chocolate with my black coffee. No matter what form -- cake, cookies, brownies, or sipping chocolate -- chocolate comes in, I love it all.

Sipping Chocolate

I even have such fond memories of those powdery packs of Cadbury hot chocolate, the ones with the tiny marshmallows inside. I remember being a kid, all bundled in my snow gear, waddling in from the snowy outdoors through the basement door. After stripping down all those layers of socks and pants, my nose was always as red as can be, and my fingers and toes were tingly due to potential frostbite. My mom would save the day by greeting us with a cup of hot chocolate, extra marshmallows in mine, and my sisters and I would sit in front of the fireplace to dethaw. 

More: What goes better with chocolate than more chocolate? Gild the lily with these Homemade Oreos.

As I get older, I do find that my tastes are continually changing. I can no longer stand the sickly sweet nature of the hot chocolate of my youth. What I now look for in a hot chocolate is completely different: I like to be able to taste the different notes and flavors that are naturally present in the chocolate; my ideal hot chocolate has creaminess from milk, subtle orange notes, and even a slight spiciness.

Sipping Chocolate

A few years ago I was introduced to sipping chocolate. Sipping chocolate dates back to the early Mayan civilization in Mexico. Although the terms "sipping chocolate," "hot chocolate," and "hot cocoa" are often used interchangeably, sipping chocolate is much different in that it uses real dark chocolate melted into warm milk -- not powder. The great thing about sipping chocolate is that you can tailor each cup to your own preferences. I prefer using a nice dark chocolate, something with a lot of flavor (and I think you would be selling yourself short if you tried to use a mediocre milk chocolate). I recommend using a chocolate around 60 to 85% cocoa, one from a good reputable store; SOMA, Theo, and Taza are a few of my favorites.

In my sipping chocolate, I like to use a good amount of orange zest, cinnamon, and chili powder. The combination of those flavors with the chocolate and the creamy milk is incredible. When I make mine at home, I heat all of the ingredients in a pot until warm, but I have also seen people melt the the chocolate with spices, add it to a cup, and then steam milk and pour it over like a latte. The recipe that I have provided below makes 2 cups, enough to serve 4 people. Sipping chocolate is much richer than your average mug of hot chocolate, so I find that 1⁄2-cup serving per person is plenty. 

Sipping Chocolate

Sipping Chocolate

Serves 4

2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon honey
3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 small orange, zested

Add the milk, honey, chocolate, cinnamon, chili powder, and orange zest to a medium saucepan and heat on low. Continue to stir with a whisk until the chocolate has melted.

Sipping Chocolate

Continue to heat the sipping chocolate on low until it has turned a nice dark brown color and is warm to touch (10 to 15 minutes). Ensure that you are stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Do not heat the milk to boiling.

Sipping Chocolate

Strain the sipping chocolate and pour it into 4 cups. Serve immediately.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Heather Hands 

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Heather Hands

Written by: Heather Hands


Melinda R. September 6, 2017
can I make this ahead of time and reheat it?
Robert September 6, 2017
Yes, I think that is fine. Simply reheat, taste, and tweak the flavors if needed. The zest flavors may have dulled a bit, and may need some help to liven it up again.
phree December 30, 2016
Made this with agave, no oranges here in the winter (very North), but it was excellent & rich. Also works great with baking semi-sweet chocolates.
Andy W. December 27, 2015
5 Steps to making hot chocolate drinking for serve.
JT N. February 24, 2015
How about some Grand Marnier for a nice layer of bittersweet orange? Hmmm will have to experiment! Ordered a crap ton of 70% TAZA chocolate on Amazon. :D
Thomas J. February 24, 2015
"To paint the Lily and Gild the Rose." - Shakespere
CCAT January 16, 2015
I think ugh this was delicious..used adobo because I had no chili powder.. But I'm happy. Thank you
Robert January 15, 2015
Coconut milk is another fine non-dairy substitute. Maple syrup (Grade B) in place of honey adds depth and character.
rockribbedrushy January 15, 2015
You don't say, but whose mugs are those?
Sienna January 10, 2015
Almond milk is delicious in hot chocolate and much healthier
Suzanne B. January 9, 2015
Have French Broad sipping chocolate-----how would I make the above with this?