Since making cookies is an “event” of sorts for us (as in, we block off an afternoon to spend the afternoon decorating), I thought it would only be fitting to make a pot full of hot chocolate to go with the cookies that get eaten along the way.
Instead of making it on the stove-top though, we made it in the crock pot!
The reason I wanted to make crock pot hot chocolate instead of stove-top hot chocolate, is because I didn’t want to multi-task as we were making cookies.
When it comes to cookies, I’m a big kid at heart. I’m sitting alongside my little ones decorating my own set of cookies.
I wanted to treat us all to hot chocolate, but not worry about possibly scorching the milk or having it boil over and make a big mess on the stove. For our cookie decorating day, it really needed to be hands off.
The second time I made crock pot hot chocolate was for our Christmas party. We invited 5 families over for a night of carnitas, complete with a full taco topping bar. For dessert, I made a batch of sugar cookies, candy cane cookies and candied pecans.
I also made a batch of crock pot hot chocolate because I wanted to be able to mingle with our guests and not be concerned with what was on the stove.
I COULD have made hot chocolate on the stove and turned it off, but then it would cool down… and isn’t the whole point of hot chocolate is to drink it hot?
I’ve (happily!) tested several variations of crock pot hot chocolate and came up with a few guidelines to help you pull this off, regardless of what you have in the kitchen.
I highly recommend using whole milk, simply because whole milk is the least processed milk you can buy. It also makes for a perfectly delicious and rich hot chocolate!
If you typically drink low-fat or fat-free milk, you can certainly substitute here. You can even substitute for non-dairy milk!
The proportion of heavy cream to milk in this recipe is 1:3. That means for every one cup of heavy cream, you need 3 cups of milk.
I thought this ratio gave the perfect consistency for hot chocolate. Not too thick, not too thin.
If you don’t have heavy cream, half-and-half would work too. If you go that route, I’d definitely use whole milk. Half-and-half is a bit thinner than heavy cream and you’ll need the “fullness” of whole milk to give body to the hot chocolate.
You can’t have hot chocolate without chocolate, right?
This recipe uses two types: chocolate and cocoa powder.
I tested using a variety of chocolate… dark, semi-sweet and milk chocolate… in chips and in bars.
First, I didn’t notice a difference in using chips or bars, so use whatever you have or whatever is on sale!
As for the type of chocolate, our preference was a 50/50 split between dark chocolate and milk chocolate. It gave a deep chocolate flavor that makes you think of expensive cocoas, but also that chocolate flavor you knew and loved as a kid.
My goal was to go 100% dark chocolate, since it contains the least amount of sugar in the first place. But since I was serving kids (both my own and at the party), I was afraid it would be too bitter for their liking. And even if I make a half batch of this, it’s still 4 cups worth of ingredients that would go to waste.
So I took the safe route with a 50/50 split and we thought that was perfect.
If your family is used to eating dark chocolate frequently, I’d suggest using 75% dark chocolate and 25% either milk chocolate or semi-sweet. You can always adjust for the next time, because this crock pot hot chocolate is so good, there WILL be a next time!
After spending a couple years quitting white processed sugar, we now cook and bake with Turbinado sugar exclusively. I used Turbinado sugar in this recipe and thought the amount was perfect.
Again, if your family is used to eating minimally sweetened things, you could easily cut back on the sugar. I’d start with 1/4 cup at first, adding more as needed. Remember that the type of chocolate you use will play a part in how sweet the crock pot hot chocolate turns out… so you have some wiggle room here to play with.
Of course toppings are 100% optional, but what kid (big or small!) doesn’t want marshmallows on their hot chocolate!
I served crock pot hot chocolate with sides of mini-marshmallows and candy canes. Other ideas include chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, whipped cream, sprinkles… the options are endless!
Even though you’ll find some sugar in this crock pot hot chocolate recipe, you won’t find a lot of it and you won’t find sweetened condensed milk.
I know that many slow cooker hot chocolate recipes call for sweetened condensed milk, but I like being able to better control how much sugar is added to the recipe. Unless you make your own sweetened condensed milk, you don’t really know how much sugar is in there NOR the quality of sugar.
Since living the real food journey is all about taking one step at a time – one meal at a time – I chose to create a recipe that didn’t use sweetened condensed milk AND one that didn’t sacrifice taste. I think I did it!
PS – This recipe obviously makes a lot of hot chocolate, so if you’re looking for a single serving recipe, here’s my version of healthy hot chocolate!
- 6 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½ cup granulated sugar (I used Turbinado)
- 8 oz chocolate (I used 50/50 dark chocolate and milk chocolate)
- ¼ cup cocoa
- 2 tsp vanilla
- toppings as desired (mini-marshmallows, crushed candy canes, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, caramel syrup, sprinkles, etc.)
- Place all ingredients, except toppings, in a slow cooker (I have this 6-quart slow cooker).
- Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Whisk the ingredients together really well.
- Cover and cook again for 30 minutes. Whisk the ingredients together really well.
- At this point the hot chocolate is ready to serve with toppings as desired.
- If you're not ready to serve, turn the heat down to as low as it will go (I use the "warm" function on my slow cooker). Whisk well before serving throughout your event!
Have you ever made crock pot hot chocolate before? What kind of toppings do you like to add to your hot chocolate? Leave your ideas in the comment section below!