7 Tips for Delicious Hot Cocoa

Here's how to make wintertime's most popular beverage even more delicious.Here's how to make wintertime's most popular beverage even more delicious.Whipping up a mug of hot cocoa this winter?

Believe it or not, there are a handful of tricks you can use to make what's in your mug this winter even tastier.

Here are 7 tips for making delicious hot cocoa:

1.) Spice it Up
A pinch of cayenne or a dash of cinnamon is an easy, fast way to perk up your cocoa and accent the rich chocolatey flavor.

2.) Whip it Good
There is a right way to add whipped topping. First, add a generous swirl of whip on top of steamy, hot cocoa. Wait 5 seconds. You will notice that the whip will melt quite a bit. What do you do now? Add another generous swirl of whip over top the first swirl of now-melted whip. (And if you are really adventurous, you can do a third round of whip!) Note: Whip does indeed come in many varieties, i.e., dairy, coconut, soy and even rice whip! Pick your favorite, and whip away.

3.) Make it Hot
Really amazing cocoa is always served hot! Let's be honest: Luke-warm cocoa will only get you luke-warm reviews, so make it hot.

Related: 16 skinny soups to warm up with this winter

4.) Stay Stocked Up
You can never have too much hot cocoa in the house. There are so many different brands of unsweetened and sweetened cocoa out there to try, it would be a shame to have just one tub to choose from when a craving calls!

5.) Use Natural Flavors
If you like to add flavor accents to your cocoa, like mint and orange, put away the orange extract and mint extract! You can use the natural whole food versions to flavor your cup. Add 1/8 tsp orange zest to your mug for natural orange flavor. And for a minty cup, steep some fresh mint leaves in your hot milk for 5 minutes before blending in the remaining ingredients. And voila! You have an organic, more flavorful mug of goodness.

6.) Sweeten Things Up
Branch out when it comes to sweeteners. Basic sugar does do the job, but try brown sugar, demerara sugar, agave or maple syrup. You can even use low-calorie or calorie-free sweeteners like Stevia. Also, good cocoa comes in all shapes, sizes, sweeteners and milks! Be adventurous, and try rich coconut milk whip, creamy almond milk or soy milk cocoas and more! And yes, dairy-free cocoa is easy and delicious!

Related: 8 homemade Girl Scout cookie recipes -- Thin Mints, Samoas, and more!

7.) Make Two Mugs

Cocoa is always best when served in pairs: one for you, and one for me. So clink mugs with your best buddy, and have a very happy cocoa-filled winter!

So what have we learned? Spices: good. Grind in some orange zest too. Swirl that whip several times, and embrace the melted whip as a layering device. Have a selection of cocoa. And milk. And sweeteners. Serve your cocoa extra hot, and wait for it to cool down to prevent the dreaded just-warm cup of cocoa. And always bring along a friend when diving into a cocoa-making session.

A fun extra tidbit? Grab some bonus points for serving your cocoa with something sweet and dippable!

Thank you, cocoa, for making cold winter days, gloomy weather and chilly nights warmer.

- By Kathy Patalsky
Follow Kathy on Babble

For 25 decadent ways to enjoy hot chocolate this winter, visit Babble!

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