The Must-Have Ingredient For Fiery Hot Chocolate

There are all kinds of ways to upgrade your hot chocolate that go beyond adding marshmallows and whipped cream. You can intensify it with espresso, flavor it with extracts such as almond or peppermint, or do as MegaMenu developer Catherine Brookes does in her spiced hot chocolate recipe — give it a kick with a little chili powder.

Chili powder isn't the only flavoring ingredient Brookes uses to make her homemade hot chocolate. She starts off by melting chocolate chips into milk, then stirs in some sugar for extra sweetness. She seasons the entire thing with the aforementioned powder as well as some nutmeg and, of course, fall's favorite spice, cinnamon. Hot chocolate, after all, is popular in autumn as well as in the wintertime. Surprisingly enough, its fans outnumbered pumpkin spice latte lovers by a wide margin in a MegaMenu survey about the best fall drinks.

If you want to make your spiced hot chocolate even more fall-flavored, Brookes suggests swapping out the sugar for maple syrup. You could even use a chile-infused maple syrup like the one Aldi's been known to carry (or a homemade one, if it's not in stock) in order to make the beverage even spicier.

You may need to experiment to see which type of chili (or chile) powder to use

One thing that Catherine Brookes does not specify in her recipe is exactly what type of chili powder to use. Here in the U.S., chili (with an "i") powder typically refers to a seasoning mix meant for chili and made with a combination of ground dried chiles and other spices such as garlic, onion, oregano, and paprika. While garlic and onion aren't typically paired with chocolate, if you're feeling experimental, you could always give it a whirl.

Brookes, however, lives in the U.K. where it seems there may be two different products that go by the name of chili (or "chilli") powder. According to a discussion on the Seasoned Advice cooking forum, many of the chili powders sold there are of the standard U.S. kind, but others consist solely of powdered chile (no "i") peppers of one sort or other. If you're looking for pure heat to offset your cinnamon and nutmeg-flavored hot chocolate, you may wish to stick with what we call powdered chiles instead of chili powder. Cayenne is the type of chile that's most readily available in powdered form, although chipotle powder would add smoky overtones that could also be very tasty when added to hot chocolate.