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Baby! It’s Cold Outside and Today is a Hot Chocolate Kind of Day

How to set up a hot chocolate bar for those frosty evenings...

There’s nothing that spells cozy better on a cold night than getting family and friends together for an after-dinner indulgence by hosting a hot chocolate bar, or as some call a hot cocoa bar.

Amazon has themed hot cocoa bar kits, including decorations, for Christmas, New Year’s Eve—or any special occasion. But you can create your own decorations and use items from your cupboards.

This is a chance to pull out those mugs you haven’t used in a while, but hot beverage cups will work just fine, too. Set your mugs on a large tray close to where you will be serving your beverage.

Look in your china pantry or cupboards for giant trays to set your selected toppings on. Put your toppings in various-sized containers and arrange attractively—just mix or match your containers. It’s the contents that count. Set the toppings in a location that is easily accessible for your guests, and label the contents of each container.

Here are some of my favorite toppings:

Caramel or butterscotch syrup, chocolate truffles, candy canes, mini marshmallows, crushed peppermint, cinnamon sticks, bits of toffee, white chocolate shavings, whipped cream, nutmeg sprinkled on whipped cream, Pirouette cookies, Nutella and coarse salt.

Making the Hot Chocolate

The quickest way to prepare your beverage is to go to Costco and purchase a 4-pound can of Stephen’s Gourmet Milk Chocolate Hot Cocoa. It’s made right here in Utah. I combine 3 tablespoons of Stephen’s to ¾ cup of water, depending on how many cups I want to serve. When I prepare it, I always mix in a large pot and add a can of evaporated milk—and cook slowly over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. After it is hot, I beat with a wire whisk to create a bit of froth, and then serve with your favorite toppings.

If you’re more of a purist, you may opt for preparing your hot chocolate in a slow cooker. Just make certain you plan, because you need to allow 2-3 hours on low to blend the flavors.


1 ½ cups chopped chocolate bar of choice

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream

1 can evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk)

6 cups whole milk.


Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and stir to combine.

Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until everything is melted. Serve with your favorite toppings.

Note: If you garnish with your toppings of choice, your cup of hot chocolate will be plenty sweet, so I avoid sweetened condensed milk. If you do not like it too sweet, reduce the amount of sugar.

Serves 8, depending on serving size.