Chai Hot Cocoa

This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish


By Alicia Ghio

As a child growing up in New England, there was nothing better than coming inside from playing out in the snow and making a cup of hot cocoa. It was part of the winter ritual. With the arctic blast that barreled into town recently, it only seems appropriate to share a recipe for a spiced up version of this classic winter drink.

Fun fact: In America, “hot chocolate” refers to any hot drink made with chocolate ingredients. What most people are actually drinking, in fact, is hot cocoa. Cocoa powder is ground up cacao that’s had the fat stripped away, either through a natural process or a “Dutched” process that subjects the powder to potassium carbonate.

Whatever you call it, forget making it with the premade packages. Those packets are full of murky ingredients. All you need is milk, unsweetened cocoa powder and sugar. Not relying on hot cocoa packets means you can regulate the ingredients and the amount of sugar.

This recipe gives classic hot cocoa an added dimension by infusing warming whole spices into the milk. The spices are full of good-for-you antioxidants, so they give this sweet treat a slightly healthier edge.

Chai Hot Cocoa

Serves 2


  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 inch cinnamon stick
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 6 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Place the first 6 ingredients in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring almost to a simmer. Remove from heat. Cover and steep 10 minutes.
  3. Place back on the stove over medium heat. Whisk in cocoa and vanilla. Bring the mixture back up to a light simmer.
  4. Remove from heat. Strain or scoop out the spices.
  5. Pour the infused hot cocoa into two mugs and enjoy.

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