Spiced Hot Chocolate is a sweet yet delicate blend of frothy milk, white chocolate and Indian chai spices. This cosy masala chai hot chocolate recipe is indulgent and warming. Make up a batch to reheat on demand.
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This spiced hot chocolate, made with white chocolate, is the perfect antidote to cooler weather. Made with a bunch of sweet spices this Indian hot chocolate is pure comfort in a mug.
When I was growing up I’d occasionally end up on a day-long shopping trip to Nottingham with my Mum. We would always make time to stop at my favourite café for hot chocolate. It came topped with whipped cream, a dusting of cocoa powder and a chocolate flake. Bliss. I ordered it every time.
It’s due to these trips that I’ve always had a nostalgic fondness for hot chocolate. It makes me feel better if I’m down and positively buzzing if I’m already happy. In turn, this affection means I’m forever seeking out new thrills in the world of hot chocolate at home.
I’m particularly proud of my recipe for spiced hot chocolate. It is made with fine ingredients, has the perfect balalnce of sweetness paired with exotic spices and it is the ultimate soothing drink for autumn and winter.
Why this Hot Chocolate with Spices is So Good
This chai spiced hot chocolate recipe has been carefully compiled to deliver a sweet drink with hints of creamy white chocolate and a delectable bunch of Indian spices more commonly paired with black tea in the classic masala chai drink.
Here the delicate spices marry particularly well with white chocolate, which doesn’t overpower them like dark or milk chocolate can.
And since white chocolate is undoubtedly sweet, a little goes a long way in this Indian hot chocolate recipe.
Best of all, unlike a masala chai, this handsome spiced hot chocolate sits well with a splurge of whipped cream and a dusting of ground spices. Hot chocolate and whipped cream are mandatory in my world.
But if spices are not your thing, try my straightforward white hot chocolate instead. It’s quick and easy to make and has just the right level of sweetness about it.
Don’t be alarmed. I know that it looks like rather a lot of ingredients in the picture above. But I promise you that this chai hot chocolate is very easy ti make and requires very little hands-on time. Let’s take a look at those ingredients:
Milk: for the creamiest hot chocolate drink always opt for whole (full-fat) milk. It gives the best result. If all you have in the fridge is semi-skimmed milk that will suffice but please avoid making hot chocolate with skimmed milk. It’s just too thin and watery to warrant exerting time and energy using for this recipe (I’m harsh – I detest skimmed milk).
Ginger: use root ginger for a fantastic burst of freshness and unmistakable gingery heat in your Indian hot chocolate.
Black peppercorns: these are another neat trick to ramp up the warming spice profile in your chai hot chocolate.
Green cardamom: practically mandatory in any masala chai so I’ve pulled it in here as well to make use of it’s uniquely intense herbal, citrusy and slightly sweet nature.
Cinnamon: another mandatory one. Please don’t leave it out.
Other spices: I’ve also included cloves, allspice, nutmeg and star anise. Although I recommend including them all if you can for the ultimate spiced hot chocolate, if you don’t have one or two of them you’ll get away with leaving them out or replacing them with a little extra of another spice.
Vanilla extract: a splash of vanilla helps round out the flavours of this drink so do include it.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Begin by putting the spices into a pestle and mortar and crushing slightly.
Step 2: Put the milk, spices and ginger into a pan. Heat to scalding, then turn the heat to the lowest setting and cook very gently for 5 minutes – do not let the milk boil.
Step 3: Remove from the heat, cover the pan with a lid (or a plate) and let everything infuse for 45 minutes.
Step 4: After 45 minutes, strain the milk through a sieve (or nut bag) then pour it into a clean pan.
Step 5: Add the white chocolate & vanilla extract. Heat gently, stirring all the time until the chocolate has melted and the liquid is hot.
I highly recommend topping this chai spiced hot chocolate with whipped cream, ground cinnamon and/or nutmeg and whole spices to garnish.
There are just a few guidance tips I have to ensure you get the best out of this Indian hot chocolate recipe:
- Give this recipe time. The milk needs to infuse for a minimum of 45 minutes to pick up the wonderful attributes that the spice blend has to offer.
- Crush the spices lightly in a pestle and mortar but avoid grinding them to a powder.
- To achieve a frothy top use an handheld immersion blender to briefly blitz the spiced hot chocolate until frothy. Before blending, ensure that the milk comes well below halfway in the pan otherwise it might splash over the edge. You may need to return the drink to the heat briefly to bring back up to temperature.
- Vary the level of spices used. Add a little more pepper and cloves for a more pronounced level of spice heat. Or add a little more nutmeg, vanilla or cardamom to enhance the character of these less fiery elements.
- For a milder version use fewer spices and of course, it’s easy to drop one spice out if you do not get along with its flavour.
- For a culinary adventure, treat my spice list as a guide rather than gospel in this recipe for hot chocolate with spices. Play around with different ones that you really enjoy.
- Increase the amount of white chocolate in the recipe with caution. It is easy to add too much which creates an overly sweet drink and detracts from the spice profile.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can use any non-dairy milk for this chai hot chocolate. Keep in mind that each milk will display its own flavour profile and this may affect the overall flavour of the drink.
Coconut milk would make quite a decadent version with a luxurious, slightly thick texture. It makes a great pairing with the chai spices, though you may need to increase the amount of spices used slightly, to maintain the same depth of spice flavour.
The infused milk can safely be heated through once. To make a batch of this chai spiced hot chocolate for later use, go ahead and infuse the milk with the spices, but then let cool and store in the fridge until required. At this point, heat through and add the white chocolate before serving.
Alternatively, make the recipe up in full and chill the leftovers which can then be consumed over ice as an iced chocolate drink without the need for further reheating.
This Indian hot chocolate recipe has been developed specifically for white chocolate which has a distinctly different taste and level of sweetness to both milk and dark chocolate (particularly the latter).
Nothing bad will happen if milk or dark chocolate is used, but it will affect the overall taste and sweetness of this drink. Specifically, the level of the spice flavour may not be so bold, especially if using dark chocolate.
More Enticing Hot Chocolate Recipes to Try
Despite my snobbery, my fond memories of drinking hot chocolate with my mother means I’ve been happily handing down this tradition to my own kids since they were little. We have a regular Friday night slot for a homemade hot chocolate with all the trimmings. Here are a few of our favourites:
Have you made this spiced hot chocolate? Let me know how you got along by leaving a comment or rating below – your feedback is always helpful. You can also show me your creation on Instagram by tagging me @jane_littlesugarsnaps.
Chai Spiced Hot Chocolate
- 400 ml Whole milk
- 45 g White chocolate
- 8 Black peppercorns
- 6 Cloves
- 4 Allspice
- 1 Cinnamon stick 15-20 cm
- 2 Green cardamom pods
- ½ Nutmeg clove
- 1 Star anise
- 4 Slices ginger thinly sliced (1mm)
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla extract
- Whipped cream
- Freshly grated nutmeg or ground cinnamon
- Cinnamon stick
- Begin by lightly crushing the whole spices in a pestle and mortar (but do not grind them to a powder). Start with the black pepper, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and star anise, then transfer to a bowl and do the same with the cinnamon. Finally, crack the cardamom pods open
- Put the cracked spices in a pan along with the ginger and milk. Heat until scalding, then turn the heat to the lowest setting and cook for 5 minutes, but do not let the milk boil
- After 5 minutes turn off the heat and cover the pan either with a lid or a plate. Leave to infuse for 45 minutes (or longer for a more pronounced spice flavour)
- Strain the milk through a fine-meshed sieve (or use a nut bag if you have one) then put into a clean pan along with the chocolate and vanilla extract
- Heat gently, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted and the liquid is piping hot
- (Optional) Use a handheld blender to froth the milk – just a couple of short pulses will turn the liquid frothy. Ensure your pan is large enough to do this without it spilling over the sides. If the liquid comes more than halfway up the pan transfer to a larger pan/ jug before blending. Reheat if necessary
- Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream (if using), a scattering of freshly grated nutmeg or some ground cinnamon and a cinnamon stick
- Serve immediately
- The milk needs to infuse for a minimum of 45 minutes to pick up the wonderful attributes that the spice blend has to offer
- Crush the spices lightly in a pestle and mortar but avoid grinding them to a powder
- Vary the level of spices used – add a little more pepper and cloves for a more pronounced level of spice heat or add a little more nutmeg, vanilla or cardamom to enhance the character of these less fiery elements
- For a milder version use fewer spices and of course, it’s easy to drop one spice out if you do not get along with its flavour
- Treat my spice list as a guide rather than gospel in this recipe for hot chocolate with spices – play around with different spices that you really enjoy
- Increase the amount of white chocolate in the recipe with caution. It is easy to add too much which creates an overly sweet drink and detracts from the spice profile