On a cold winter evening, there is nothing I crave more than hot chocolate topped with giant marshmallows.18 hot chocolate 13

Now that it’s officially winter, and colder temperatures have made an appearance in Northwest Florida, I had to up my hot chocolate game.

I tried three hot chocolate recipes I found on Pinterest and ranked them based on taste, ease of preparation and presentation. I also included my comments, so you will know exactly what to expect when you try this recipe.

For days it’s cold outside, or even when it’s not, hot chocolate is the beverage of the season.

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate

This recipe serves eight people. It was adapted from gracefullittlehoneybee.com.

To view the original recipe and photo, visit.gracefullittlehoneybee.com/slow-cooker-hot-chocolate/.

• 1/2 cup cocoa18 hot chocolate 8

• 1 can sweetened condensed milk

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 7 cups water

• 2 teaspoon vanilla

• 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in slow cooker.

Set the slow cooker on high for 2 hours.

Remove lid, stir hot chocolate and set to warm to enjoy all day.

Rankings

Taste: 1st place

Ease of preparation: 1st place

Presentation: 3rd place

Comments

This recipe is everything you need in a hot chocolate. It’s traditional, easy-to-make and delicious.

It’s a light hot chocolate you can drink at any time on a winter day.

Hot Chocolate Coffee18 hot chocolate 6

This recipe serves three to four people. It was adapted from ikneadtoeat.com.

To view the original recipe and photo, visit. http://ikneadtoeat.com/hot-chocolate-coffee/.

• 1 1/2 cups milk

• 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate

• 1 cup freshly brewed coffee

• Marshmallows for topping

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the milk, cocoa powder, and semisweet chocolate, and bring to a simmer. Lightly whisk until the chocolate has completely melted. Do not let hot chocolate come to a boil.

Add coffee, and whisk until combined.

Pour into serving mugs and top with marshmallows.

Rankings

Taste: 3rd place

Ease of preparation: 2nd place

Presentation: 1st place

Comments

This thick hot chocolate should come with a warning sign that reads, “For extreme chocolate lovers only.” It’s a rich, decadent hot chocolate suitable only for dessert.

Although not difficult to prepare, the recipe requires the extra step of brewing a pot of coffee. The coffee and chocolate chips give it a gorgeous shade of brown that looks luxurious topped with whipped cream.

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate18 hot chocolate 4

This recipe serves four people. It was adapted from certifiedpastryaficionado.com.

To view the original recipe and photo, visit http://www.certifiedpastryaficionado.com/peanut-butter-hot-chocolate/

• 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

• 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

• 32 ounces milk

• 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1 cup mini-marshmallows (for topping)

Turn on stove to medium heat. Add chocolate chips and peanut butter. Stir together with whisk until melted and smooth. Be careful not to let it get too hot or it will harden.

Slowly whisk in milk. The slower you do it, the easier it will be to incorporate into the chocolate-peanut butter mixture. Keep whisking until all the chocolate is mixed into the milk. This may take 1-2 minutes.

Add in cocoa powder, and whisk until mixed into milk mixture.

Keep cooking until the mixture begins to froth on top. Check temperature. If fully warmed-through, turn off heat and serve. Top with marshmallows and chocolate sauce and/or melted peanut butter. You can also add chopped peanut butter cups.

Rankings

Taste: 2nd place

Ease of preparation: 3rd place

Presentation: 2nd place

Comments

This hot chocolate is ideal for people who love the peanut butter and chocolate combination. But, be warned, it’s far richer than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

The hot chocolate recipes that call for both cocoa and chocolate chips typically result in a rich, thick liquid.

I recommend experimenting with toppings on this hot beverage. I melted a little peanut butter and drizzled it onto whipped cream.