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January 31: celebrate National Hot Chocolate Day!

3 min read

Made with creamy milk and cocoa, this treat is delicious when enjoyed by itself, or can be a great basic recipe that can then be used to get some creative variants by adding unique flavors, spices and even liqueurs!
On a cold winter day, hot chocolate provides a delicious and sweet treat that warms the body and the heart.
It’s time to learn more about (and celebrate) National Hot Chocolate Day!

Hot chocolate has a long and delightful history that goes along with the history of the cacao bean.
Curious enough, the first way that chocolate was enjoyed was as a beverage, although quite different from the way people drink it today.
When cacao beans were first used by ancient people, the beans were likely ground coarsely and placed in hot water to create a bitter drink that was used also in religious ceremonies.
When chocolate beans and sugar both became more accessible in Europe, the cocoa solids were then used to make chocolate bars and chocolate candies.
However, a favorite continues to be the warm, sweet milky beverage that is known as hot chocolate.
By 1828, powdered chocolate was made that made it much easier to stir into milk and, when Nesquik was invented in 1948, the first chocolate milk powder made a quick and tasty addition to milk that could also be heated up into hot chocolate.
National Hot Chocolate Day was established to show appreciation for and encourage the celebration of this delicious drink.

How to celebrate?
Of course, enjoying a Cup of hot chocolate!
Whether using a powdered mix, making it at home from scratch or going out to a coffee shop, the most important task of the day is to drink and enjoy it!
The easiest way, of course, is to add a pre-made mix to hot milk, stir it up and drink. Adding something else such as marshmallows or whipped cream on top can turn it into an extra delicious treat.
For a more sophisticated drink in honor of this day, try using a recipe that is often used in many different coffee shops and cafes. Typically, it will include whole milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, granulated sugar, bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and vanilla extract. All the ingredients are mixed together, cooked on the stove, melted and whisked to a creamy hot chocolate perfection.

Although the most popular versions of hot chocolate typically do contain sugars and carbs, some homemade varieties that contain actual dark chocolate and milk can provide some interesting health benefits.
For example, it’s good for heart health: according to Harvard research, hot chocolate contains flavanols and phytosterols, which are able to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, which can be an indicator of heart disease. Plus, the antioxidants are helpful in the fight against heart disease as well.
But also brain power booster, as scientific research suggests that the flavanols in cocoa tend to increase the brain’s oxygen levels and activate neurons at a higher rate – equaling better brain performance and improved cognitive function.
Moreover, it is rich in antioxidants.
Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, like polyphenols and flavonoids, which can help reduce the negative impact of aging, as well as boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation.
But it also helps with the memory, in fact, one study has shown that drinking hot cocoa twice a day could not only give a memory boost, but may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in some people!

Either way, don’t forget to be creative with your hot chocolate!
Hot chocolate is certainly tasty when it is enjoyed on its own, but it also offers a ton of creative options, including spicy hot chocolate, white hot chocolate or even Nutella or peanut butter hot chocolate….

Images from web – Google Research

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