This oat milk hot chocolate is dairy free and absolutely delicious! It is perfect for chilly fall nights and cold winter days.
Growing up, my mom would make us hot chocolate on snowy mornings when school was canceled.
I’d drink it while looking out the window watching the snow fall or after shoveling a path through two feet of snow.
Since moving to warmer weather, I started craving it on the rare rainy days of the winter season.
I fell in love with oat milk when it was just starting to be seen on supermarket shelves but was still barely known.
I couldn’t believe how a good brand tasted so much like milk and was sometimes even more creamy!
This oat milk hot chocolate is as good as the traditional hot chocolate, if not better, but it depends on the brand. See the section on brands for if you want help deciding.
HISTORY OF HOT CHOCOLATE
The first chocolate drink was created by the Mayans around 2,500–3,000 years ago. It was served cold and made of cocoa seeds ground into a paste, then mixed with water, cornmeal, chili peppers, and more.
The Aztecs used a cocoa drink as an essential part of their culture. This version was also served cold and was said to be flavored with vanilla and other spices.
Europeans’ first recorded contact with chocolate wasn’t until 1502, on Columbus’s fourth voyage.
Later, Spaniards came the New World in what is now Mexico, where they were introduced to the chocolate drink. They brought the drink back to Europe where it became extremely popular with the upper class.
At the time, chocolate was very expensive because the beans were grown in South America and imported to Europe.
In fact, it was so expensive, that cocoa was even given as a dowry when members of the Spanish Royal Family married other European aristocrats.
By the 1600s, sugar was added and cocoa was considered a luxury item among the nobility throughout Europe. At the time, spices were still a common addition to the drink, and they soon found adding milk made it more palatable.
The aristocratic nature of the drink led to chocolate being referred to as “the drink of the gods.” Even when it became a little more accessible to the masses when the first Chocolate House was opened in 1657, chocolate was still very expensive.
Hot chocolate has even been used as medicine until the 1800s.
They may have been onto something though, since today, there are discussions about its abundance of antioxidants.
Choosing your Brand
I have tried a hand full of oat milk brands and I can tell you, not all oat milks are created equal.
Some brands taste like oats and have the consistency of water. Other brands have a more mild taste and are slightly reminiscent of milk. Oatly and Alpro are my two go to brands.
When I visit New York I really like Oatly which I find to taste like regular milk and to be a little extra creamy. I’d assume this is true in Canada too.
In Israel I only use the barista version of Oatly which is still more watery than the regular Oatly in the States. I expect it is the same in Europe because I that is where it is imported from.
For Israel and Europe I find the Alpro oat milk indistinguishable from the Oatly Barista. However, the Alpro “Not Milk” oat milk I find to be almost identical to milk but a little sweeter – which I like.
WHICH TYPE OF COCOA TO USE
When a recipe calls for cocoa, always use unsweetened cocoa powder, unless specified otherwise.
This allows you to have better control of the sweetness of what you’re making.
There are three basic forms of unsweetened cocoa powder.
NATURAL COCOA POWDER
Natural cocoa powder comes from cocoa beans that are fermented, roasted, processed at a higher heat, and milled into a powder.
It’s bitter, with a very strong and concentrated chocolate flavor.
This cocoa powder is acidic and is often used in recipes calling for baking soda, because the two react with each other to allow your baked good to rise.
This is most commonly used, and should be used, in recipes that simply say “cocoa powder.”
DUTCH-PROCESS COCOA POWDER
Dutch-process cocoa powder starts with cocoa beans that have been washed in potassium carbonate which neutralizes their acidity.
Since Dutch-process cocoa powder is neutral, it does not react with baking soda.
When baking, Dutch-process cocoa is often paired with baking powder.
Dutch-process cocoa powder can also be used in place of natural cocoa powder in recipes that don’t require leavening.
These include sauces, hot cocoa, frostings, ice cream, pudding, etc.
If you only have Dutch-process cocoa powder on hand, you can substitute it for neutral cocoa powder.
Just make sure to add 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar, white vinegar, or lemon juice for every 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder called for in the recipe.
RAW CACAO POWDER
Raw cacao powder is different from natural and Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder.
It’s pure powder from the cacao bean and isn’t nearly as processed as both natural and Dutch-process.
Cocoa is processed at high heat, which destroys much of the nutritional benefits of the cacao seed.
Also, cocoa powder is often alkalized during processing to reduce acidity. The result is a product that’s less bitter and more soluble when added to liquids.
Cacao powder, on the other hand, is made of fermented – not roasted – seeds that are processed at low temperatures and then milled into a powder, ensuring its nutritional benefits and its bitter flavor are preserved.
You can use raw cacao powder in recipes that don’t specify Dutch-process cocoa powder, however it is best not to try to.
Compared to cocoa powder, cacao powder has a stronger flavor, it is not as absorbent as cocoa powder, and it is more acidic, so it will react differently with baking soda.
Sugar may seem very basic if you’ve baked before, but I’ve been asked about it in the past – so I’ll explain.
There are many different types of sugar, including white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla sugar, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, and demerara sugar.
When a recipe (any recipe, not just mine) says “sugar” without specifying anything else, it is regular white sugar.
White sugar (sometimes called granulated sugar, table sugar, or white granulated sugar) is made of either beet sugar or cane sugar, which has undergone a refining process.
It is the easiest to find and most commonly used.
Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added to it.
It is commonly used in chocolate chip cookie recipes, and it’s rare for a recipe that calls for brown sugar not to also call for white sugar as well.
When a recipe calls for “brown sugar” but doesn’t specify what type (light or dark), it is referring to light brown sugar.
In my recipes, you can use whatever type of brown sugar you have on hand, whether it is dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, or demerara sugar – which is very common in Israel.
Just keep in mind that the flavor and color will be slightly different, depending on what you choose to use.
Turbinado sugar is better known as “raw sugar.” But, despite this name, the sugar is not really “raw.”
Instead, it’s partially refined sugar that retains some of the original molasses.
The term “raw sugar” may also give off the impression that it is somehow healthier.
In reality, turbinado sugar is nutritionally similar to white sugar.
Demerara sugar is very popular in Israel and is especially delicious in tea, but is also used for baking.
Unlike white sugar, demerara sugar undergoes minimal processing and retains some vitamins and mineral.
However, it is still not much healthier than white sugar.
Vanilla sugar is not very common in the States. However, it is common in Israel and parts of Europe.
This is sugar that sat for an extended period of time with vanilla beans, giving it a vanilla flavor.
This type of sugar is common in the United Kingdom.
It has a grain finer than white (granulated) sugar and larger than powdered sugar.
Caster sugar is often called for in recipes for delicate baked goods like meringues, souffles, and sponge cakes.
You can use a 1:1 conversion rate between caster sugar and white (granulated) sugar.
Powdered sugar, sometimes known as confectioners’ sugar, is a sugar with a powdered texture.
This sugar is rarely, if ever, used for baking. Instead, it is used for dusting desserts and making frosting and icings.
In some countries, you can also find powdered vanilla sugar.
It is made the exact same way regular vanilla sugar is made. However, the sugar used is powdered instead of granulated.
Vanilla Extract vs Vanilla sugar
In my recipes, I don’t specify what kind of vanilla to use.
The reason for this is that in the States, vanilla extract is exclusively used.
Meanwhile in Israel, along with many European countries, vanilla sugar is common.
In most, if not all recipes, both vanilla extract and vanilla sugar can be used.
In recipes where vanilla sugar can be used instead of extract, you can replace them 1:1.
Replacing Sugar with Honey
If you’d prefer to use honey instead of sugar, you can do so with pretty good results.
Honey can be two or even three times as sweet depending on the honey, so for every 1 cup of sugar, you can use 1/2 to 2/3 cup honey.
Since honey adds liquid, you need to remove some to balance it out. For every cup of honey, remove a 1/4 cup of liquid.
Also, it burns faster than granulated sugar, so you want to lower the baking temperature by 25 F or 14 C. In addition, check it early and often to avoid burning or overbaking.
Why is there salt?
Salt really brings out the flavor in other things, such as sugar. If you’re on a no sodium diet, you can leave it out. However, if not, it’s best to add it.
Can you heat up oat milk for hot chocolate?
Yes, you can heat up oat milk for hot chocolate.