How to Make Hot Chocolate Without a Recipe

December  2, 2013

Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: Food52's Managing Editor Brette Warshaw shows how to make hot chocolate from scratch -- with any chocolate and dairy you've got.

Hot Chocolate from Food52

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You have probably been making hot chocolate without a recipe for your entire life -- because for many, hot chocolate can mean dumping a few scoops of some mix (or a packet of Swiss Miss) into a mug, adding a few glugs of milk, and heating the whole thing in the microwave. Making hot chocolate from scratch was something you probably didn't even think to do -- because if you did think about it, you'd realize how truly simple it is.

I was one of those mix-people, until I ran out of mix -- and, using the odds and ends of chocolate found in my pantry, made hot chocolate myself. My winters have never been the same.

Because being able to make hot chocolate with any kind of chocolate -- and any kind of dairy -- makes you a superhero this season; it cures colds, it cures moods, it solves breakfast and snack and dessert. Here's how to do it, with whatever you've got.

How to Make Hot Chocolate Without a Recipe

1. Melt your chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips) with half of your milk. For a big mug of hot chocolate, I used 3 ounces of chocolate for every two cups of milk; feel free to use good-quality cocoa powder in the place of some or all of the chocolate. I'm a fan of La Boite Hot Chocolate and More chips, which are spiced; if you're using plain chocolate, feel free to play with the spices yourself.

Hot chocolate from Food52


2. Whisk in the rest of your milk, and let the mixture heat through. Taste it; if it's not sweet enough, add sugar.

Hot chocolate from Food52


3. Pour into a warm mug, top with marshmallows or whipped cream, and drink up!

More: Like this pot? Check it out in Provisions!

Hot chocolate from Food52

We're looking for contributors! Email [email protected] and tell us the dish you make in your sleep, without a recipe.

Photos by James Ransom

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Brette Warshaw

Written by: Brette Warshaw

I'm a reader, eater, culinary thrill-seeker, and food nerd.


That G. December 2, 2013
I hate to be "that guy", but isn't this a recipe for making hot chocolate?
Velauria December 9, 2013
I don't think so. It's more like guidelines. To me, a recipe is something like: 3 oz chopped dark chocolate, 2 cups milk, 2 tbsp sugar, then goes on to explain the exact method.
redgriffin January 23, 2016
Actually according to a recipe is "a set of instructions for making or preparing something, especially a food dish" and that is exactly what this is. So 'that guy is right and this is technically speaking a recipe
redgriffin January 23, 2016
However the majority of recipes do include exact measurements such as 3/4 of chocolate which this does not have. So if we are to use the majority of recipes to define what a recipe is, we would conclude that this is not a recipe.
redgriffin January 23, 2016
But of course one cannot just go and define something by what the majority is. We must not forget where we came from. If we defined everything by its majority, then plants with naturally purple leaves would no longer be plants, and a dog that is missing a leg could no longer be called a dog!
redgriffin January 23, 2016
The question is do we define something based on its function or its name. If I used a hammer to hold open a door, would that hammer be called a hammer or a doorstop? If you say that well of course its still a hammer, then according to you this is not technically speaking what we refer to as a recipe. But if you say well it could be called a doorstop because that is what it is used for, then according to you, this is a recipe because it is functioning as one.
Heather M. December 2, 2013
I do this in the blender, add warmed milk and whatever chocolate I have (usually abuelita)chopped if it isnt already in pieces and blend until smooth. It gets frothy and wonderful and is never too hot.
Camie December 2, 2013
Yum! What is that pot? I love it
Brette W. December 2, 2013
It's on Provisions, actually!