A classic hot chocolate recipe with a little bit of an almond-flavored twist from a shot of amaretto!
I'm a big fan of amaretto, so I wanted to share this almond-forward, boozy hot chocolate recipe. If you've never had amaretto before, you're missing out! Amaretto is a sweet almond-flavored liqueur whose nutty notes pair well with rich hot chocolate.
Why You'll Love This
I mean, look at that...warm amaretto spiked hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and salted caramel. So good! Let's talk about what makes this recipe special:
- The base of the recipe comes from my go-to hot chocolate recipe that is rich, creamy, and delicious.
- A touch of amaretto and a pinch of salt elevates the flavors of the chocolate without tasting too alcoholic or sweet.
- Whipped cream, salted caramel, and optional toppings like slivered almonds and chocolate curls, make this hot chocolate one you'll be sure to remember! It's especially fantastic served on a special date night, Valentine's Day, or winter gathering.
What is Amaretto?
I don't know about you, but I love amaretto. Ever since I discovered its use in tiramisu, I've been hooked! Maybe you're into an amaretto sour; or maybe, you're like one of the many people who have a dusty old bottle of the liqueur on your shelf. Or, maybe, you're like me, and you love amaretto too! Personally, I think amaretto is so underrated! It's sweet, nutty, and so smooth.
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This amaretto hot chocolate is a super easy riff on the classic version. Here's what you need.
- Milk: I typically use a 2% or whole milk for this hot chocolate because I love the richness! If you need a non-dairy option, I'd go for oat or almond milk.
- Cornstarch: I love using cornstarch to make hot chocolate because it helps to thicken the drink so it's that much more luxurious.
- Sugar: You can use as much or as little sugar in this as you'd like -- feel free to adjust it to your preferences. I do find that if I make a sweeter hot chocolate, I like to add a little salt (more on that below) to balance out the sweetness.
- Cocoa Powder: I love adding cocoa powder to emulate a classic hot cocoa.
- Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate provides a bit of bittersweet richness to the drink.
- Salt: After testing this recipe a few times, I've found that adding just a bit of salt really pairs well with the sugar, chocolate, and amaretto flavors. If you make this drink and find it a tad too sweet, you can try stirring in a pinch of salt to balance things out.
- Amaretto: Of course, the most essential ingredient here is amaretto! Disaronno is my brand of choice -- I love a Disaronno-spiked hot chocolate.
Hot Chocolate Toppings
In my opinion, half the fun of hot chocolate is in the toppings! I like garnishing the drink with whipped cream (homemade or store-bought), salted caramel, toasted slivered almonds, and chocolate shavings. The almonds and chocolate shavings are optional, but so fun! The whipped cream and caramel are non-negotiable, though 🙂
TIP: The fastest way to make chocolate shavings is to run a vegetable peeler across a smooth section of a chocolate bar.
How to Make Amaretto Hot Chocolate
Ready to do this? Let's walk through how to make this hot chocolate.
- Make a cornstarch slurry: A cornstarch slurry is a mixture of cornstarch and a cold liquid whisked until smooth. The slurry is then added to the boiling hot chocolate to help thicken it. If you were to add the dry cornstarch directly to the hot chocolate, it would clump up - so a slurry is a safe way to prevent that! After making the slurry, set it aside while you prepare the hot chocolate.
- Make the hot chocolate: Bring the milk, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt to a simmer. Add the chocolate and cornstarch slurry, then bring to a boil. Boil, stirring frequently, for at least 1 minute until thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings to your own preferences.
- Finish the hot chocolate: Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and amaretto. Top with whipped cream and salted caramel and any other desired toppings. Serve warm and enjoy!
Storage and Make-Ahead Instructions
- You can very easily make this hot chocolate ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a day or two -- just don't add the alcohol or toppings. Just before serving, reheat it on the stovetop, then remove from the heat, stir in the alcohol, and garnish with desired toppings.
- Make a big batch of this by doubling or tripling the recipe to serve a crowd! You can even make a hot chocolate bar and have your guests add a shot of amaretto, whipped cream, and other toppings to their own drinks.
- Leftover hot chocolate (without toppings or alcohol) should be cooled to room temperature and stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can reheat leftovers in the microwave or on the stovetop.
You can also add mini marshmallows, toffee bits, crushed graham crackers or biscotti, or white chocolate chips. Keep in mind that marshmallows and white chocolate will make things much sweeter, so you may want to add less sugar to the hot chocolate.
You can add leftover liqueur to your coffee, this almond cake, or an amaretto sour. My favorite way, though, to drink amaretto, is to mix it with a bit of ice cold milk; it's sweet, nutty, and so delicious as an after-dinner treat. Oh, and it's especially delicious with oat milk!
Of course! Cool the non-spiked hot chocolate to room temperature, then store in the fridge until chilled, about 2 to 4 hours. To serve, fill a glass with ice, pour the hot chocolate, and stir in the amaretto.
Amaretto Hot Chocolate Recipe
For the cornstarch slurry:
- 1 tablespoon 2% or whole milk, chilled
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
For the amaretto hot chocolate:
- 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 2 cups 2% milk or whole milk
- A pinch of salt
- 1 ounce 70% finely chopped dark chocolate
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ounces amaretto liqueur, such as Disaronno
- Whipped cream, homemade or store-bought
- Salted caramel, homemade or store-bought
- Toasted slivered almonds, optional
- Chocolate shavings or curls, optional
Make the Cornstarch Slurry (optional):
- In a small bowl, whisk cold milk with cornstarch until no clumps remain. Set aside.1 tablespoon 2% or whole milk, ½ teaspoon cornstarch
Make the Hot Chocolate:
- In a 3-quart saucepan, add sugar, cocoa powder, 2 cups of milk, and a pinch of salt.Bring to a simmer on medium heat, and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Whisk frequently to ensure the cocoa powder melts into the milk.Note: Lower the heat as needed to prevent the milk from burning.2 tablespoons granulated white sugar, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 2 cups 2% milk or whole milk, A pinch of salt
- Give the cornstarch slurry another stir to make sure it's smooth, then add it with the chopped chocolate to the pot. Bring to a boil. Whisk constantly for 1 minute until thickened.Note: Cornstarch needs to boil for at least one minute to activate and thicken.1 ounce 70% finely chopped dark chocolate
- Taste the hot chocolate and adjust flavorings as needed. Not sweet enough? Stir in additional sugar. Not chocolatey enough? Stir in additional cocoa powder or chopped chocolate.Note: Salt really brings out the chocolate flavors, so if you feel the hot chocolate needs something extra, try adding another pinch. I typically add a bit more salt to this version of hot chocolate as I love the slightly salty flavor paired with the amaretto!
- Remove from the heat, then stir in the vanilla extract and amaretto liqueur.¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 ounces amaretto liqueur
- Divide hot chocolate amongst two mugs and top with whipped cream, salted caramel, almonds (if desired) and chocolate curls (if desired).Whipped cream, Salted caramel, Toasted slivered almonds, Chocolate shavings or curls
You can very easily make this hot chocolate ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a day or two — just don’t add the alcohol or toppings. Just before serving, reheat it on the stovetop, then remove from the heat, stir in the alcohol, and garnish with desired toppings. Make a big batch of this by doubling or tripling the recipe to serve a crowd! You can even make a hot chocolate bar and have your guests add a shot of amaretto, whipped cream, and other toppings to their own drinks. Leftover hot chocolate (without toppings or alcohol) should be cooled to room temperature and stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can reheat leftovers in the microwave or on the stovetop.