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Hazelnut Hot Chocolate with Minted Whipped Cream

Listen, right now is really not the time to start your diet, so let’s talk about hot chocolate and get on with it. Now that Thanksgiving is over, I think it’s officially Christmas — at least that’s how it feels. Already, Christmas trees adorn many of our neighborhood windows, store displays have been dressed up with twinkling lights, and I don’t have to feel weird about listening to the Christmas mix that Sarah mailed me. Even though I didn’t grow up celebrating Christmas, I associate it with so many great things — bumming around the ‘burbs with high school friends over holiday break, red Starbucks cups, the smell of pine needles, cheesy romantic comedies, jazz and lots of it, ski trips, gingerbread, cocktail parties, sparkly tights, cashmere scarves, hot alcoholic beverages, boots with thick socks.

Now that I’m married to Matt, I feel like I’m finally realizing my lifelong dream: celebrating both Christmas AND Hannukah (not to mention, a much more important holiday in my family: Russian New Year). You remember those kids in elementary school who got to celebrate both? They got to light candles and eat latkes and also take pictures with Santa and wake up to presents under the Christmas tree. Those little brats had it good, and the rest of us were understandably jealous. Thing is, now that I’m a bona fide adult, my favorite thing about all of these holidays isn’t the presents. It’s that other stuff that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside: baking cookies, cuddling up to my love under a mountain of blankets watching above-mentioned romantic comedies, listening to old, crackly records accompanied by candlelight. And hot chocolate, plenty of hot chocolate. Being an adult means allowing yourself to eat as many sweets as you wanted when you were a kid, without anyone giving you crap about it. And I still have a few more weeks left of not being a role model to anyone. There is something magical about this time of year; we all seem to let ourselves be children, briefly.

Before we get any further, I’m not talking about the powdery stuff with dehydrated marshmallows. No. That is not hot chocolate. It’s a sad excuse for a beverage. I’m talking about hot chocolate that’s so rich, so deep, so thick, you have to sip it veeeery slowly. Accented by a cloud of freshly-made whipped cream, it tastes positively criminal. I can promise you this: once you get a taste of it, you’ll never look back.

A few weeks ago, I was browsing my favorite grocery store in San Francisco — Rainbow Grocery — when I stumbled across an aisle of nut milks. I’d tried almond milk before (even tried making my own) but had never sampled hazelnut milk, so I picked up a package. Wisdom told me that a truly rich and flavorful hot chocolate could only be created with real milk, ideally full fat, but I was wrong. Oh, how wrong I was. Turns out, you can make FANTASTIC hot chocolate with nut milk. I used two types of chocolate in my recipe: unsweetened cocoa powder and dark chocolate disks from a wonderful local chocolate company. Because nothing says Christmas like a little peppermint extract, I whisked up a quick batch of peppermint whipped cream to add even more richness and flavor. People: homemade whipped cream is the easiest thing, possibly ever. It is so worth taking an extra minute to make your own and forsaking the can once and for all. For those of you who are lactose intolerant, you can omit the whipped cream to make this recipe entirely dairy-free.

Does anyone else want to dive headfirst into that cloud of cream?

Hazelnut Hot Chocolate with Minted Whipped Cream
*makes 2 cups

For the hot chocolate:

2 cups of hazelnut milk (you can substitute almond milk, soy milk, or regular milk)
2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces of dark chocolate (60-70%), finely chopped (I used TCHO Chocolate discs, which I did not need to chop)
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of coarse salt

Bring the hazelnut milk to a boil over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder, chopped chocolate, sugar, and salt until completely smooth.

For the minted whipped cream:

1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of real peppermint extract

Combine whipping cream, sugar and peppermint extract in a medium bowl. Whisk until light and fluffy. I recommend using a hand blender with a whisk attachment (you’ll get beautifully whipped cream in a minute or under, and you won’t kill your arm). Be sure all of your ingredients are very cold, as is your bowl and whisk.

To serve, divide hot chocolate among cups and top each with a heavy-handed dollop of whipped cream.

Musical Pairings: Otis Redding – The Best of Otis Redding + Hazelnut Hot Chocolate with Minted Whipped Cream

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Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • Shannalee T

    i love the way you describe this season as letting us be kids again — you are so right! also, for the record, cheesy romantic comedies about the holidays are one of my favorite parts, too.

  • Yes! So excited about this recipe, Kasey. I’m going to have to make some this weekend as I work on my Christmas cards.

  • sara forte

    yes, I too want to dive in 😉 I was just thinking about this. I have made cocoa with luscious milk/cream but not with nut milk yet. I’ll take your word for it and give it a try, it’s just getting chilly enough around here to be needing some hot cocoa! Looks so delicious.

  • tara

    Mmmm that looks awesome! I love hot chocolate.

  • Nicole

    This sounds incredible, Kasey! I’ve never had hazelnut milk, but I am sure it’s great, especially in this application. It does seem like Christmas is in high-gear this year and I’m all for it. It’s only day 2 of being back from the long weekend and I feel like I’m late to getting a tree! Maybe tonight 🙂

  • Hooray for cheesy romantic comedies! My personal favorite is Love, Actually…and I can’t wait to rewatch it for the millionth time. 🙂 Also, being a kid is really fun.

  • I bumped up the posting schedule just for you! Also, I totally made this while working on my holiday cards 🙂

  • I was really very surprised by the consistency. I think the key to this hot chocolate (and any other luscious hot cocoa) is making sure you use plenty of [good] chocolate. It brings back memories of the stuff I used to love in Italy, which literally just tasted like drinking a chocolate bar. Glad the weather’s cooling down enough for you to enjoy some warm winter drinks. x

  • Thanks, Tara! As do I.

  • I had never had it before either but it is delicious! I also used some to make oatmeal and the hazelnut flavor was really pronounced. I can’t wait to see pics of your tree. We already bought a few new ornaments and I’m looking forward to adding some festive sparkle to the house. xo

  • In desperate times (like being too lazy to walk to the store in a blizzard), I’d make hot cocoa with water. It was then that I discovered the only thing that really matters is gooooood quality chocolate. 🙂 I’ve always made my hot cocoa with equal parts of soy and coconut milk, but I’m dying to try your hazelnut version.

  • sarah kieffer

    Yeah! You can now listen to that Christmas CD. 😉 And yeah! Nut milk hot chocolate. I’ve switched out my whole milk in my coffee for almond, and I’ve been lamenting about how thin and weak it is… but I’m gonna take your word for this and try it!

  • Yes! It is now officially Christmas in my estimation as well. And I’m also with you all the way on the pine needles and gingerbread and sparkly tights and cookie baking and candlelight. I love this season so much. Hope it is off to a wonderful start for you! xo

  • I completely agree with you re: the importance of good quality chocolate. I bet you could make a darn good hot cocoa with water and 6 ounces of chocolate 😉

  • I am loving it! Thank you again for sending it along! I think the key is the chocolate…it gives richness to all types of milks. Just add an extra scoop of whipped cream, and you won’t feel jipped 😉

  • Yay for all of the above! I can’t complain about the start of the season, and hope you’re enjoying yours as well 🙂 xo

  • I’m totally ready to start thinking about Christmas and the holidays. A lot of my team is Russian as well so I’m definitely keen on celebrating Russian New Year too!

    I’m totally in love with this hot chocolate too – I never would have thought of using hazelnut milk but it sounds like such a great idea. Chocolate & hazelnut is the best combination and this looks so rich and creamy.

  • Steph

    My favorite line from this post was, “I still have a few more weeks left of not being a role model to anyone.” Love it. 🙂

  • Ya! Holidays! The hazelnut milk is actually quite subtle given how dark (and how much) chocolate I used, but I agree that chocolate and hazelnut is probably my favorite food combination, ever. x

  • It’s true! Hard to imagine someone will actually be looking up to me soon!

  • Diana @ Brooklyn Galley

    This hot chocolate looks amazing and I wish I had hazelnut milk at home right now! (And good to know that such a thing exists!) You’re right that this is the time of year to just act like a kid again and indulge. Looking forward to reading more holiday-related posts in the coming month!

  • Hazelnut milk! In hot chocolate! Brilliant. Happy holidays, Kasey.

  • Having just listened to an old Spilled Milk podcast about hot chocolate, I am so in the mood for this. Keep up the cozying!

  • I ran across this recipe on Refinery29 tonight, and I just had to make an impromptu trip to the grocery store. This drink (and especially the peppermint whipped cream) is to die for!!! It’s even better than the Starbucks Peppermint Hot Chocolate. Thank you for starting my Christmas holiday off right! 😉

  • Laura

    Sparkly tights, rom-coms, hot booze and this INSANE HAZELNUT BASED HOT CHOCOLATE! …Kasey, you have this holidays thing on lock I think. Can’t wait to try this out.

  • I was thrilled to discover it, and am excited to use it in more of my cooking!

  • Thanks, friend 🙂 Happy holidays to you!

  • Cozying is my fave 🙂 I hope you’re feeling well lady! xo

  • Hi Katherine, thanks so much for leaving a comment and letting us know you enjoyed the recipe! I agree that the mint cream is one of the best parts 🙂 Happy holidays to you!

  • Hahahah…You gotta do the holidays right, girl! Hope you’re staying warm up there in Canada 🙂 x

  • Sonja / A Couple Cooks

    This sounds wonderful! I love hazelnut flavor as it reminds me of my first trip to Europe as a teen – I’d never tasted anything like hazelnut before (hello, Nutella!). I love the addition of mint too. Thanks for the idea (now, to find hazelnut mlik!).

  • Monologuez

    If you you’re using almond milk, which kind would you use? Plain, vanilla, or dark chocolate?

  • I would recommend using plain or vanilla almond milk.

  • Oh yes, Nutella is the best! Hope you find that hazelnut milk. If not, almond milk will do 🙂

  • Lisa

    Sometimes when I warm up hazelnut milk it gets kind of slimy. Any thoughts on how to warm it up without changing the texture in a funky way?

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