Considering how many texts and comments I've gotten from friends and family lately asking me if I'm staying warm, I think it's safe to say that most people have heard about the below zero weather Chicago has been having!
Thankfully, I escaped the chill on Friday to begin all of my holiday travel (although Pittsburgh hasn't been that much of an improvement, weather-wise!) That said, there's nothing that I love more during the holiday season than cozying up by a fire with a nice hot drink and a movie playing in the background.
Hot chocolate is definitely #1 in my heart, but this year I've been trying a few new things, and adding new ingredients to spice things up a bit with my hot chocolate, too! I'm sharing my favorite holiday drinks to help you stay warm and add a little something special to your cozy nights at home.
(Plus, scroll to the bottom of the post for my list of favorite hot beverage toppings to make the most delicious and insta-worthy drink of all!)
1. White Hot Chocolate - I had a ton of leftover white chocolate from making my Mom's Peppermint Bark Recipe (sharing that on the blog later this week!) so this was the perfect time to try this one out! I'm normally not a white chocolate person, but this was so easy and delicious.
- 4 cups milk
- 1 cup white chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Directions: Combine milk, white chocolate, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Whisk continuously over medium-low heat until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. (Be sure not to boil or burn the chocolate!)
2. Vanilla Steamer with Cinnamon - This drink is one of my favorites because it takes no time to make, and it's the perfect remedy when I'm having a hard time sleeping on these freezing winter nights.
- 1 1/2 cups milkLK
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Directions: Warm the milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the sugar and vanilla extract (be careful not to let it boil - just look for steam). Pour the milk into a blender and whiz on high for about a minute or until the milk is extra frothy.
Sprinkle the cinnamon on top and enjoy!
3. Nutella Hot Chocolate - Believe it or not, I had my very first taste of Nutella - ever - about two weeks ago. Am I totally crazy?! Probably. I somehow avoided it for a while, and then everyone talked about how addictive it was, I figured it was best if I didn't tempt myself. I was definitely missing out! This recipe is the perfect way to add a little extra to plain old hot chocolate, and it is amazing.
- 4 cups milk
- 2 Tbsp. Nutella
- 2 Tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Power
- 2 Tbsp. Sugar (or your choice of sweetener)
Directions: Heat milk in medium saucepan on medium-low heat until warming and steaming. Add in the spread, cocoa power and sugar, whisking together until dissolved and combined. Serve, add toppings and enjoy.
4. Peppermint Hot Chocolate (Slow Cooker) - I've been getting a lot of use from my slow cooker in these colder days, and beverages are no exception! It takes about 5 mins to put together, and 2 hours to actually cook in the slow cooker (but well worth the wait, trust me!)
- 1 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder
- 1/3 cup hot water
- 8 Tbsp. Bittersweet Chocolate (roughly chopped - I used Ghirardelli!)
- 4 cups milk
- 1/4 cup half and half (or replace with additional milk)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 5-7 candy canes (food processor is best, but if you don't have one, crushed up by other means is fine too!)
Directions: Combine the hot water and cocoa powder in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Add the chocolate, milk, half and half, sugar and candy canes to the slow cooker along with the cocoa paste. Heat on the low setting for 2 hours - stirring every 30 minutes.
5. Gingerbread Cider - Apple cider is basically the only holiday drink that is ever inside my Starbucks red cup, and while I absolutely love it, I figured it couldn't hurt to find a recipe to make at home that's just as good. I stumbled upon this one the other day and can't wait to try it out!
- 1/2 gallon Apple Cider
- 1/4 tsp. ginger
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
Directions: Pour the cider into a large pot to heat on medium-low setting. Add the sugar and spices, and stir until well blended. Heat to whatever temperature is desired, let simmer for 20 minutes, and enjoy!
It wouldn't be a delicious holiday drink if it didn't have some adorable and yummy toppings, would it?! Here are some of my favorites - I love mixing and matching them every time to give it a little something new!
Stay warm and enjoy! I'm off to go make another white hot chocolate and curl up by the fire with the dogs...this really is the best time of year!