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Hot Chocolate and Drinking Chocolate: What’s the Difference?

Are you a fan of warm, comforting cocoa beverages that wrap you in a cocoon of delight during chilly days? If so, you’re not alone. Hot chocolate and drinking chocolate are two beloved classics that have stood the test of time, warming hearts and satisfying cravings for generations. But what exactly sets them apart?

In this article, we’ll delve deep into the world of hot chocolate and drinking chocolate, exploring their differences, origins, and everything in between. So, grab your favourite mug and let’s embark on a journey through the delicious realm of cocoa.

Understanding Hot Chocolate

What is Hot Chocolate?

Hot chocolate, often referred to as “hot cocoa” in the United States, is a delicious and comforting drink that is perfect for cold weather. It is made by mixing cocoa powder, sugar, and milk, and can be customized to suit individual preferences.

Whether you like it rich and creamy or light and frothy, there is a hot cocoa recipe out there for everyone.

The history of hot chocolate dates back to the ancient Mayans, who were the first to cultivate cocoa beans and create a bitter drink from them.

Over time, the recipe evolved and became sweeter, eventually leading to the hot cocoa we know and love today.

Hot chocolate has become a popular drink all over the world, especially during winter months, and is often associated with cozy nights by the fire or holiday gatherings with loved ones.

Key Characteristics

  • Ingredients: The primary ingredients of hot chocolate are cocoa powder, milk, and sugar.
  • Texture: Hot chocolate has a smooth and creamy texture, often topped with whipped cream or marshmallows.
  • Flavour: It offers a balanced and sweet cocoa flavour, making it a delightful treat.

History of Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate has been enjoyed for centuries, with its origins tracing back to the ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures of Central America.

The Mayans and Aztecs believed that cocoa beans had divine properties and were used in religious ceremonies.

They also enjoyed a bitter drink made from ground cocoa beans mixed with water and spices, such as chili peppers and vanilla.

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Central America in the 16th century, they were introduced to cocoa beans and the drink made from them.

They brought the cocoa beans back to Europe, where the drink was sweetened with sugar and flavored with cinnamon and other spices.

In the early 1700s, a Dutch chemist named Coenraad Johannes van Houten invented a process for separating cocoa solids from cocoa butter, resulting in the creation of cocoa powder.

This made it easier to mix cocoa with milk or water, and the drink became more popular.

By the 19th century, hot chocolate had become a staple in many households, and it was often served with breakfast or as a bedtime drink.

Today, hot chocolate is enjoyed all over the world, and it can be found in many different varieties.

Overall, the history of hot chocolate is a rich and fascinating one, with a long and varied past that has helped to shape the way we enjoy this beloved beverage today.

Ingredients of Hot Chocolate

When it comes to making hot chocolate, you only need a few basic ingredients to get started.

Here are the essential ingredients you’ll need to make a delicious cup of hot cocoa:

Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder is the key ingredient in hot chocolate.

It gives the drink its rich, chocolatey flavour.

You can use either natural or Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Natural cocoa powder is more acidic and has a brighter flavour, while Dutch-processed cocoa powder is less acidic and has a milder flavour.


Milk is the liquid component of hot cocoa.

You can use any type of milk you like, including cow’s milk, almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk. The type of milk you choose will affect the flavour and texture of your hot cocoa.


Sugar can be added to hot cocoa to sweeten it.

You can use regular granulated sugar, brown sugar, or honey.

How much sugar you add will depend on your personal preference.

Keep in mind that some cocoa powders may already have sugar added, so be sure to check the label before adding additional sugar.

Spices and Flavourings

Spices and flavourings can be added to hot chocolate to enhance its flavour. Some popular options include cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract.

You can also add a pinch of salt to bring out the chocolate flavour.

In summary, to make delicious hot chocolate, you will need cocoa powder, milk, sugar, and spices or flavourings.

Experiment with different types of milk and flavourings to find your perfect cup of hot cocoa.

Making Hot Chocolate

When the weather outside is cold and dreary, there’s nothing quite like a warm cup of hot cocoa to lift your spirits.

Making Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate is relatively simple to prepare. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Ingredients: Gather cocoa powder, milk, and sugar (optional).
  2. Mixing: Combine the cocoa powder with a small amount of warm milk to form a smooth paste.
  3. Heating: Heat the remaining milk in a saucepan until it’s steaming but not boiling.
  4. Blending: Gradually add the cocoa paste to the hot milk while stirring continuously until smooth.
  5. Sweetening: Add sugar to taste if desired, and continue to stir until dissolved.
  6. Serve: Pour the hot chocolate into mugs, and top with whipped cream or marshmallows if desired.

So, go ahead and treat yourself to a warm and comforting cup of hot cocoa today!

Exploring Drinking Chocolate

What is Drinking Chocolate?

Drinking chocolate, on the other hand, is a more intense and decadent cocoa beverage.

It’s known for its rich, chocolatey flavour, and it’s often enjoyed by those who appreciate the deep, pure taste of cacao.

Unlike hot chocolate, drinking chocolate doesn’t shy away from the bitter notes of the cacao bean.

Key Characteristics

  • Ingredients: Drinking chocolate is made with high-quality dark chocolate or cocoa mass and hot milk.
  • Texture: It has a thick, velvety texture, akin to melted chocolate.
  • Flavour: Drinking chocolate offers a robust and pure chocolate flavour, with hints of bitterness.

Preparing Drinking Chocolate

Drinking chocolate is a bit more indulgent but equally delightful. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Ingredients: You’ll need high-quality dark chocolate or cocoa mass and hot milk.
  2. Melting Chocolate: Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt it in a saucepan or microwave until smooth.
  3. Heating Milk: Heat the milk in a separate saucepan until steaming.
  4. Combining: Pour the melted chocolate into the hot milk and whisk vigorously until well blended.
  5. Serving: Transfer the velvety liquid to a mug or cup, and enjoy the pure, intense flavour.

Taste Comparison

When it comes to taste, hot chocolate and drinking chocolate offer distinctly different experiences.

Hot chocolate is creamy, sweet, and comforting, with a mild cocoa flavour that appeals to a broad audience.

In contrast, drinking chocolate boasts a deep, pure chocolate taste, sometimes with subtle bitter notes, making it a choice for those who relish the true essence of cacao.

Variations of Hot Chocolate and Drinking Chocolate

If you’re a fan of hot or drinking chocolate, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many variations to this classic drink.

Here are three different variations that you can try at home:

Vegan Hot chocolate

For those who are vegan or lactose intolerant, you can still enjoy a delicious cup of hot chocolate.

Instead of using cow’s milk, you can use almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk.

You can also use vegan chocolate chips or cocoa powder to make your hot chocolate. Good quality high cocoa percentage chocolate is often vegan, so indulge yourself and give it a go.

If you feel the need to sweeten it up, try using agave nectar, maple syrup, or coconut sugar.

Spiced Hot Chocolate

If you want to add some extra flavour to your hot chocolate, try adding some spices.

Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom are all great options. You can also add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a spicy kick.

To make spiced hot chocolate, simply add your desired spices to your hot chocolate mixture and stir well.

Alcoholic Hot chocolate

For a more adult version of hot chocolate, you can add some alcohol to your drink.

Baileys Irish Cream, Kahlua, and peppermint schnapps are all great options.

To make alcoholic hot chocolate, simply add a shot of your favourite alcohol to your hot chocolate mixture and stir well.

No matter which variation you choose, be sure to top it off with some whipped cream and marshmallows for an extra special treat.

When it comes to hot chocolate and drinking chocolate, there are a few popular brands that come to mind.

Here are some of the most well-known brands and products that you may want to consider trying:


Cadbury is a British chocolate brand that has been around for over 100 years.

They offer a range of hot chocolate products, including their classic Drinking Chocolate and their Instant Hot Chocolate.

Cadbury’s hot chocolate products are known for their rich, creamy taste and are a popular choice for those who love a traditional hot chocolate.


Nestlé is another popular brand that offers a variety of hot chocolate products.

Their most well-known product is their Nestlé Hot Cocoa Mix, which comes in a variety of flavours, including Rich Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, and Milk Chocolate.

Nestlé’s hot cocoa products are known for their smooth, velvety texture and are a great option for those who prefer a sweeter hot cocoa.

Hotel Chocolat

If you’re in search of a truly indulgent hot chocolate experience, look no further than Hotel Chocolat.

This British brand has established itself as a connoisseur of cocoa, offering a range of premium hot chocolate products that will tantalize your taste buds.

Hotel Chocolat takes hot chocolate to a whole new level with their “Hot Chocolate Velvetiser.”

This innovative machine has been designed specifically to create the silkiest, smoothest hot chocolate imaginable.

It’s like having a chocolate barista in your own kitchen.


Knoops is a hot chocolate brand that has gained a loyal following for its focus on customisation and the sheer variety of chocolate options they offer.

One of the standout features of Knoops is its dedication to allowing customers to create their own hot chocolate experience.

They offer a wide range of chocolate “cocoas” with varying cocoa percentages, allowing you to choose the intensity of your hot chocolate.

Knoops takes pride in their selection of chocolates from around the world, including single-origin chocolates. Whether you prefer the rich, earthy notes of a dark chocolate or the creaminess of a milk chocolate, Knoops has something for everyone.

Overall, there are many different brands and products to choose from when it comes to hot and drinking chocolate.

Brands Summary

Whether you prefer a classic, traditional or a more indulgent, premium hot chocolate, there is sure to be a product out there that suits your taste.

Hot Chocolate and Drinking Chocolate Serving Suggestions

When it comes to serving your favourite chocolate drinks, there are a few things you can do to make it even more enjoyable.

Here are some serving suggestions to consider:


Adding toppings can take it to the next level.

Some classic toppings include whipped cream, marshmallows, and chocolate shavings.

However, you can get creative and try out different toppings like caramel sauce, crushed candy canes, or even a sprinkle of sea salt.


Pairing your chocolate drinks with a tasty treat can make for a satisfying snack or dessert.

Some popular pairings include cookies, brownies, or a slice of cake.

If you’re looking for something a bit healthier, try pairing your hot cocoa with a piece of fruit, like a banana or apple.

Serving Size

The serving size of your hot cocoa will depend on the size of your mug and how much cocoa mix you use.

A good rule of thumb is to use about 30g of cocoa mix for every 225-250ml of milk.

This will give you a standard-sized mug of hot chocolate.

However, if you’re using a larger mug, you may need to adjust the amount of cocoa mix and milk accordingly.


Hot chocolate is best served hot, but be careful not to overheat it.

Overheating can cause the milk to scorch and the cocoa to become bitter.

Heat your milk slowly over low heat, stirring constantly, until it’s hot but not boiling. Then add your cocoa mix and stir until it’s fully dissolved.

Alternatively, use a Velvetiser and these concerns will be a thing of the past for you!

By following these serving suggestions, you can enjoy a delicious and satisfying cup of hot cocoa.

Hot Chocolate and Drinking Chocolate: Conclusion

In the realm of cocoa-based beverages, hot chocolate and drinking chocolate each have their unique charm and appeal.

While hot chocolate enchants with its creamy sweetness, drinking chocolate captivates with its pure, intense cacao flavour.

Whether you seek comfort or a deep chocolate experience, there’s a cocoa beverage to satisfy every palate.

So, the next time you’re craving warmth and indulgence, ponder the differences between hot chocolate and drinking chocolate and choose the one that suits your mood.

Whether you sip a comforting cup of hot chocolate or delve into the depths of drinking chocolate, the world of cocoa is yours to explore and enjoy.

Hot Chocolate World author
Andrew Lowry

Hi, I’m Andrew and I like hot chocolate. Given the nature of this blog, that’s probably not surprising though.

I don’t drink coffee or tea (except a bit of green tea occasionally) so my hot drink options are limited.

I’m a champion of good-quality hot chocolate and want to see and learn more about it, so join me and let’s learn together.

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