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Holiday Recipe: Vegan Peppermint Hot Chocolate
By Brandi Black, RHN
This vegan peppermint hot chocolate is decadent, a healthier alternative to regular hot chocolate, and the perfect festive sweet treat that’s ready in less than 10 minutes. Don’t be fooled by the taste, though. Although it’s sweet and creamy, it’s also free from refined sugar (and can be adjusted to be completely sugar-free), dairy-free, and packed with antioxidants. This hot chocolate is deliciously good and good for you!
Best of all, the flavors of this hot chocolate recipe are easy to customize to suit your mood and taste buds. Whether you prefer something dark and bitter or creamy and sweet, this vegan peppermint hot chocolate can be made over and over again in many different ways.
Our favorite thing about this hot chocolate recipe is that you can even add a teaspoon of Sun Chlorella Powder to the mix. Chlorella contains nutrients such as beta-carotene and Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF), which support glowing skin, increased energy levels, and a healthy immune system— all of which we could use extra during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
How You Can Customize This Vegan Peppermint Hot Chocolate
Milk chocolate: Add extra nut milk and sweetener
Dark chocolate: Add extra cacao and use less sweetener
Sugar-free: Use stevia or xylitol in place of sweetener
Nutrition boost: Add 1 tsp of Sun Chlorella Powder and extra sweetener and cacao as needed
Not feeling the peppermint extract or don’t have any? Simply leave it out and enjoy the hot chocolate as-is.
Raw Cacao vs Cocoa Powder: What’s the Difference?
For this vegan hot chocolate recipe, you can use either raw cacao powder or cocoa powder. However, it’s important to know that although raw cacao and cocoa sound similar and come from the same plant, they’re not the same thing. Here are the key differences between raw cacao and cocoa powder to help you decide which one to use for this recipe.
Raw Cacao: Unprocessed, Rich in Nutrients, Bitter, Deeper Chocolate Flavor
Raw cacao powder is the purest form of chocolate, and therefore, the most nutritious. It comes from beans from the cocoa trees, which are fermented before being crushed and turned into a powder.
Since raw cacao is essentially unprocessed (meaning it’s not roasted) it still has plenty of antioxidants, fiber and nutrients intact— such as protein, carbohydrates, iron and magnesium.
In addition to being named a superfood, raw cacao has also been touted for supporting cardiovascular health and mood-supporting benefits. Although more clinical studies are needed to explain exactly how raw cacao impacts the brain, some research suggests it may enhance the body’s serotonin levels.
If you crave chocolate when you’re stressed out, the cacao-serotonin theory could make sense. Since raw cacao is rich in magnesium, craving chocolate when you’re stressed could also be your nervous system asking for a quick “hit” of magnesium— the ultimate calming mineral. This is also why nutritionists will advise on eating plenty of magnesium rich foods when being haunted by chocolate cravings— such as spinach, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
In terms of taste, raw cacao has a stronger and more bitter taste. If you use it in your hot chocolate recipes, you will increase the nutritional value, but may also need to add a touch of extra sweetener and/ or nut milk to make it more palatable.
Cocoa Powder: Processed, Slightly Sweet
Cocoa powder comes from the same cocoa bean raw cacao powder is made from. The only difference is that after the cocoa bean is fermented, it also gets roasted. The cocoa beans used to make Dutch cocoa powder (which is commonly used in decadent baking recipes, such as brownies and chocolate cake) are also alkalized to remove the acidity. This makes the cocoa powder sweeter to taste.
Regular cocoa powder that hasn’t been alkalinized will still retain some bitterness, acidity, and nutrition.
While cocoa powder can certainly be more palatable for baking and making hot chocolate, roasting the cocoa beans at high temperatures destroys many of the beneficial nutrients and lowers the nutritional value. However, if you choose a non-alkalized cocoa powder containing more than 70% cocoa, you’ll still get a healthy dose of antioxidants.
Vegan Peppermint Hot Chocolate
(dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan friendly)
Ingredients (serves 2-3)
2 tablespoons pure cocoa powder or raw cacao powder*
3 cups unsweetened nut milk (coconut, almond, cashew)
1.5 tbsp coconut sugar, maple syrup or other sweetener of choice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch sea salt
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 teaspoon Sun Chlorella Powder (optional)
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together nut milk and cocoa, stirring until cocoa is completely melted and thoroughly combined.
2. Add remaining ingredients, stirring for an additional 30-45 seconds. If the mixture is too thick, add a few splashes of nut milk to reach the desired consistency.
3. If you wish, you can blend the warm hot chocolate mix in a high speed blender. This step is recommended if you’re using Sun Chlorella Powder. Serve and drink immediately.
*If using cocoa powder, you may need to reduce the liquid or add extra cocoa powder, as it absorbs less liquid than raw cacao powder.
Author: Brandi Black, RHN