I have always wanted to set up a hot cocoa bar for the holidays and this year I vowed to finally do it! It’s perfect for seasonal entertaining and trust me when I say- if you’re not enjoying sipping chocolate or spiked hot cocoa this winter, you’re doing it wrong. I invited a few friends over to have a hot drink, hangout, and relax before the season gets too crazy busy. Click through to see how I set things up and pin five of my favorite hot cocoa combinations I crave all winter long!
I’ll start by saying, I’ve been spoiled by my coffee bar. When it comes time to move and renovate another kitchen… you better believe I’ll be designing another designated coffee spot. It’s one of the most frequently used areas in the kitchen. Lucky for us, the pot filler and espresso maker also come in super handy for hot cocoa.
It didn’t take me very long to set up the station- probably 10 minutes, max. I set out some of my favorite vintage mugs, saucers, and all of the fixings for a decadent cup of hot cocoa.
If you’re wondering what kind of items to include, this list should help… just pick and choose what sounds good:
- plain marshmallows
- mini marshmallows
- peppermint sticks
- chocolate sticks
- marshmallow toppers
- rolled wafers
- crushed peppermint
- chocolate syrup
- white chocolate syrup
- caramel sauce
- hot cocoa mix
- alcohol- if you liked spiked hot cocoa (whiskey, kahlua, peppermint schnapps, etc)
- mini chocolate chips
- whipped cream
It’s more fun to let your guests make their own hot chocolate concoctions, but sometimes it can be daunting staring at a counter filled with delectable ingredients. I wanted to share five of my favorite combinations you could offer as suggestions, that are typically loved by all. Feel free to pin or save them for later!
CLASSIC HOT COCOA
First up… classic hot cocoa with mini marshmallows. This is exactly what comes to mind when I think of my childhood during the holiday season. I’d go out and romp in the snow with my family and come into a cozy house, wood stove burning, and hot cocoa on the counter waiting for me. If you’re a sipping chocolate purist, hold the marshmallows!
Next, we’re moving onto something a bit more fun. I personally like hot chocolate best when it’s spiked… who else is with me?
CAMPFIRE S’MORES COCOA WITH WHISKEY
This is definitely as good as it sounds! Obviously you already know this, but Emmett and I moved to Utah for the breathtaking scenery and landscape. We really enjoy packing things up (dogs included) and heading into the mountains to camp. One of our traditions is to take a bottle of High West (local whiskey) with us. It’s a campfire ritual we enjoy. I invented this hot chocolate recipe that includes our favorite whiskey and it’s SO perfect for the holiday season.
It’s definitely a dessert cocktail, and if I’m feeling extra wild- I’ll add a chocolate stir stick in addition to the s’more marshmallow to cut the whiskey.
Moving onto a hot chocolate combo the coffee lovers will enjoy…
AFFOGATO HOT COCOA
I’m a big fan of hot espresso served over a scoop of gelato- otherwise known as the affogato. I like to do the same with hot cocoa… basically, I’ll make a mocha using hot chocolate and add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream to it.
There’s something about silky smooth ice cream dunking down into piping hot chocolate that is incredibly delectable and rich tasting.
This recipe from bon appetit uses peppermint ice cream instead of vanilla bean- which I think would also taste delightful and festive! Next up… another boozy hot chocolate.
KAHLUA HOT COCOA
Kahlua is a my step dad’s favorite… he’s a rum lover and I remember the first time he splashed a float of Kahlua into my hot cocoa (don’t worry- I was of drinking age, haha). I looked at him with doubt, but he made my try it and I was pleasantly surprised how amazing it tasted. It’s still a drink that reminds me of him.
I liked to top it with fresh whipped cream, a drizzle of dark chocolate, and salted caramel syrup. If you like your boozy holiday drinks extra strong (like my step dad), feel free to add a splash of rum. Last, but not least… a classic peppermint option!
PEPPERMINT HOT COCOA
I actually don’t love the chocolate and mint combination, but I think I’m the anomaly because most people do! If you’re one of those people, add some peppermint syrup to your hot cocoa. Feel free to layer on the toppings too: crushed peppermint, marshmallows, whipped cream, and a chocolate wafer stir stick.
I’m so happy I decided to make the most of the pre-holiday season and invite friends over for hot cocoa. What do you think of the hot chocolate bar? Is it something you’d try? If so- what is your favorite recipe or cocoa combination? I just love this festive time of year!