The Big Mistake You're Making With Hot Chocolate And Expert Tips To Avoid It

Homemade hot chocolate runs the gamut from gourmet concoctions made with artisanal chocolate to a simple packet of powder stirred into a cup of hot water. (If you did the stirring at home, it's homemade enough for us; plus, hot cocoa mix has a bunch of other uses, so we'd never sneer at the stuff.) While you can go to great lengths to upgrade your hot chocolate with add-ins such as spices and extracts, it won't be worth drinking if the texture is all lumpy and clumpy. As per Grayson Claes, head pastry chef at One White Street and Rigor Hill Market, the real secret to making the best hot chocolate lies in "making sure the chocolate is evenly incorporated."

This holds true whether you're talking about powder and water or chocolate chunks and heavy cream. Once you get to the point where you're stirring one into the other, make sure you do a thorough job of it — not doing so is a huge mistake. Claes suggests that you use a hand blender to do the stirring and pour the mixture through a strainer before you decant it into a mug.

Other tips to ensure smooth hot chocolate

If you'll be using dry ingredients to make your hot chocolate, whether it be cocoa powder or a packet of Swiss Miss, the best way to ensure smoothness is to mix in a little bit of water to form a paste before you add the rest of the hot liquid (be it milk or more water). Should you be starting with chunks of chocolate instead, chop them up as small as possible so they'll melt more quickly, and stir all the while as you simmer them in warm milk.

If you want to try an even easier way to make hot chocolate that stays smooth from start to finish, though, you can forget the powdered or solid chocolate and go with chocolate in liquid form. Yep, you can use good old Hershey's syrup and mix it into your milk just like you're making chocolate milk, then heat the mixture in the microwave or on the stovetop. If you prefer to use a fancier fudge sauce, this will work just as well — only you might have to warm it up first so it becomes thin enough to mix with the milk.