Best Hot Cocoa Recipes to Keep You Warm This Winter

We partnered with Ghirardelli to bring you some delicious and super-creative hot cocoa recipes from baristas across the country.


Almost everyone has a nostalgic memory of drinking a steaming cup of hot cocoa while winter swirls outside. For me, it’s coming in from the snow at my grandparents’ house in Wisconsin and smelling chocolate in the air as the fire in the hearth warmed my cheeks.

Welcome to the Holiday Hot Cocoa Challenge

Given that baristas are craftspeople—creative ones at that—we bet most of them have a memory of a special hot cocoa themselves. That was the inspiration for our latest social media event: The Holiday Hot Cocoa Challenge presented by Ghirardelli Chocolate and Barista Magazine. It launches today at Barista Magazine’s Instagram.

Our friends at Ghirardelli value creativity, quality, and the barista profession as much as we do at Barista Magazine, which is why we partnered to create this fun challenge. We asked baristas from around the United States to create an original recipe for hot cocoa based on their own experiences. And what they came up with is beyond inspiring.

Here’s How It Works

We want you to be a part of this too, so we’ve created the Holiday Hot Cocoa Challenge in an effort to not only share these outstanding recipes with you, but to engage you in determining which one sounds the best. Today at Barista Magazine’s Instagram, you’ll find photos and recipes for these imaginative hot cocoa recipes, and we’re asking you to “like” the one (or more—no reason you can’t vote for more than one!) you think sounds the yummiest.

“Likes” count as votes, so at the end of this week, we’ll see which post has received the most likes, and that person will win big: $1,000 big! But because we value the time and thought each barista put into their drink, we’ll also award $500 for the post with the second-most likes; and $200 each for the other three participants.

We gave the baristas a lot of creative freedom—drinks could have alcohol or not, could include espresso or filter coffee, or not, and could be served hot or cold. The primary rule was that they use Ghirardelli Chocolate for their drinks in whatever dreamy way they wanted. And wow—their interpretations of hot cocoa showcasing Ghirardelli are pretty exciting!

Please visit Barista Magazine’s Instagram page and start “liking” posts in the Holiday Hot Cocoa Challenge. The winner and runners-up will be determined by whomever has the most likes by 8 p.m. PST, December 16, 2021. 

After you’ve cast your votes/likes, we bet you’ll be craving a steaming mug of hot cocoa yourself, so (for those of us who might not be uniquely talented drink creators like the Holiday Hot Cocoa participants) here is a super simple, water-soluble Peppermint Hot Cocoa recipe from Ghirardelli:

Simply mix three tablespoons of Ghirardelli Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix with hot water or steamed milk. You may also add a shot of espresso or substitute hot water with freshly brewed coffee for a quick and easy peppermint mocha. Top with whipped cream and Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce for an extra touch of holiday indulgence. Enjoy!

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Barista Magazine is the leading trade magazine in the world for the professional coffee community.