We have one month to go in 2016, and it’s an important one for revving up our engines of hope, determination, and resolutions for a better future. I can’t promise that 2017 will be a miraculous improvement or even that December will manage to be truly merry, but I can try to help things along. And I’m not saying that you need booze to get through the holiday season, but in the interest of making spirits bright, we might as well use a few shots to get the good vibes going.
With a few generous spoonfuls of warm spices and a few more generous pours of bourbon and hazelnut liqueur, an already-comforting mug of hot chocolate becomes a decidedly festive party drink that you should by no means keep in arms’ reach of the kids’ table.
If you’re feeling ambitious, or antsy, or just need a project for the next few weeks, you can make your own homemade hazelnut liqueur. If you (like me) would prefer a bit more instant gratification, pick up a bottle of Frangelico or Creme de Noisette while you’re stocking the holiday bar. You won’t have to wait two weeks to get your boozy hot chocolate going, which is a fair trade-off in my book.
I usually take my hot chocolate straight—that is, I forego the whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and marshmallows to let the drink be my only indulgence—but if we’re going all out here, we might as well go all out. For my husband, hot chocolate simply isn’t worth drinking unless it’s got a mountain of whipped cream on top, and does not discriminate between the homemade kind (yes, he makes it himself) or the sprayed-from-a-can kind (with a little extra spritz right into the mouth, as is right and correct).
But if I may make a more outré suggestion: have you considered topping your hot chocolate with gobs of marshmallow fluff? That’s what’s floating on the drinks in this post’s photographs, and frankly, it’s unabashedly decadent. Think of it as an extra layer of holiday therapy if you must.
So let’s give ourselves permission to enjoy the holidays, even if just for a little bit, and to use the time to strengthen our reserves for the coming year. We don’t have to wait one more week. We can start now with a mug of hazelnut bourbon hot chocolate: our secret weapon that will power us through.
For nut-allergic friends, this cocktail can be an equally festive—and even more spiced-up—drink by substituting SNAP, a ginger cookie-flavored liqueur also used in the Christmas Island tiki cocktail, in place of the hazelnut liqueur.
Spiced Hazelnut Bourbon Hot Chocolate
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Makes 4 large or 8 small servings
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus additional for garnish if desired
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 4 cups (1 quart) whole or reduced-fat milk
- 1/4 cup hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- whipped cream or marshmallow fluff for garnish
Whisk the sugar, cocoa powder, allspice, cinnamon, and ginger, and cloves together in a small (1-quart) saucepan.
Pour in 1/4 cup milk and whisk until a paste forms, then slowly whisk in the remaining milk
As soon as the milk comes to a simmer, remove from the heat and whisk in the bourbon and hazelnut liqueur.
Pour the hot chocolate into 4 12- to 16-ounce mugs. Top with whipped cream or marshmallow fluff and sprinkle with cocoa powder, if desired.