What do you think about hot chocolate? If you’re like the majority of chocoholics and like their hot chocolate sweet, a teaspoon of sugar makes all the difference. Although there are several sweeteners available, not all are made equal.
Today, we’ll look at the most popular natural sweeteners for hot chocolate, as well as several options you may not have heard of. Thus, if you carefully evaluate the sweetener you use in hot chocolate, the appropriate one will enable you to enjoy your hot cocoa guilt-free.
- 1 Hacks for Homemade Hot Chocolate
- 2 Best Hot Cocoa Sweeteners
- 3 Natural Hot Chocolate Sweeteners
Hacks for Homemade Hot Chocolate
- Start With Sauce. If you make more than one cup of hot chocolate a week, I highly recommend making a batch of 2-ingredient chocolate sauce using real chocolate, and keeping it in the fridge. Rinse & repeat, as needed. You just pick how strong you want your hot chocolate, then add water or your milk of choice until it’s juuuuust right.
- Stir in Some Flavor. Once you’ve gotten your hot chocolate up & running, it’s time to stir everything together, and what better to use than a candy cane or honey stick! This upgrades the flavor, as well as saving one more spoon from a trip to the dishwasher.
- Swap Water for Tea. If you’re trying to make a vegan hot chocolate without compromising on flavor, why not take it one step further with some brew? I’m not talking beer, but I am referring to coffee and tea, two caffeinated drinks that need no introduction. Switching out the water or milk in hot chocolate for a tea brewed to your desired strength can elevate a simple hot cocoa into an earl grey chocolate masterpiece.
- Add a Theme. There are so many things you can add to hot chocolate, but instead of including just one thing, consider adding a combination of spices and extracts to make it a whole new beverage. Think beyond broiled marshmallows here, because the world is your oyster!
Best Hot Cocoa Sweeteners
If you don’t enjoy experimenting with various kinds of sweeteners for hot chocolate, choose one of the dozen or so options discussed here.
White Refined Sugar
Refined or processed white sugar, a classic sweetener and one of the most well-known, is at the top of the list. It is a purified and granulated sugar made from raw cane or beet sugar by a purification process.
This sort of sugar adds sweetness without altering the taste of the chocolate. As a result, it sweetens the cacao below, allowing it to combine nicely with a range of additions. Sadly, this sort of sugar has no nutritional benefit and excessive intake may be harmful to one’s health.
Cane sugar that has not been refined
Unrefined cane sugar, a form of sugar that maintains most or all of the original cane molasses and has a very dark brown color, is another popular sweetener alternative.
It also has a lot of regional names. It is known as muscovado in Mauritius and the Philippines, piloncillo in Mexico, jaggery in India, and panela in Colombia, among other names. This may be a nice alternative if you want a more nuanced taste in your sipping chocolate.
How does it compare to refined sugar? Both have the same level of sweetness. It also does not make a significant impact in terms of nutritional value. Nonetheless, unprocessed cane sugar has a distinct flavor and scent, similar to a smoother form of coconut sugar (discussed below).
Honey from the area
If you wish to avoid processed sugar, consider using local honey. Honey is a natural sweetener produced by bees that needs little to no preparation before consumption.
Many people like this sweet, thick liquid honey as a better alternative to refined sugar since it contains vitamins and minerals that give your chocolate a tiny nutritional boost.
Yet, adding honey to hot chocolate adds sugar and calories while also changing the taste. Use with caution.
Molasses, a byproduct of the sugarcane processing industry, is another popular sweetener for drinking chocolate. It is important to note that normal molasses differs from blackstrap molasses, which has a very strong mineral undertone.
Nonetheless, it still has health advantages since it includes vital minerals and antioxidants. As a result, it is a better choice for hot chocolate than refined sugar. It does, however, have a high sugar content, which may be dangerous if drunk in excess.
For your first few attempts, use 2 tsp of it. Apart from that, this sweetener has a powerful, spicy taste that will not only sweeten but also transform the flavor of your chocolate. Thus, if you want to attempt it, be sure you just add one.
Stevia is a low-calorie alternative to consider. It is a natural sugar alternative derived from the stevia plant (the leaves). It is about 300 times sweeter than sugar, yet there are no extra calories or blood sugar spikes.
Nonetheless, stevia has several disadvantages. They cost more than sugar and the majority of other artificial sweeteners. Side effects and allergic reactions are also possible.
Also, not everyone like the flavor of stevia. Some people find it bitter in chocolate, while others describe it as comparable to menthol (much like the cooling effect of sugar alcohols).
The Monk Fruit
A pure monk fruit sweetener is another healthy sweetener, albeit it does not dissolve as well as sugar. Monk fruit extract is a naturally sugar-free and calorie-free extract obtained from dried luo han guo fruit that is used sparingly yet expertly in certain sugar-free chocolates.
What’s the big deal about this? It’s because monk fruit sweeteners are a wonderful alternative for those who are trying to lose weight. In contrast to certain artificial sweeteners, there is no indication of any negative side effects.
Nevertheless, monk fruits are difficult to produce, harvest, and dry. It’s also costly to import and process, therefore there’s a scarcity in local retailers.
Alcohols made from sugar (ex. Erythritol)
Sugar alcohols are the next sugar-free sweetener on the list. They are referred to as low-calorie sweeteners since they contain less calories and carbs than sugar. They contain no alcohol, despite their name.
These delicious alternatives may aid with weight reduction, but they are not the solution to becoming healthy. Sugar alcohols do not have the same detrimental consequences as sugar, such as tooth decay. But, if consumed in high quantities, it might cause gastrointestinal distress.
Erythritol is an example of a sugar alcohol. What distinguishes it is that it has no calories and does not seem to create the same digestive issues as other sugar alcohols.
I’m sure you’ve seen those iconic yellow Splenda packets at a number of coffee establishments.
Splenda is a popular artificial sweetener in powder form. Sucralose, a zero-calorie molecule with a sweetness comparable to sucrose, is used to make it. Yet, you must still weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the chemical additions it includes.
This sweetener is subjected to an artificial procedure that eliminates the sugar molecules responsible for calories. And what is the end result? It tastes sweeter than sugar, is completely unprocessed by your body, and has a distinct artificial taste.
Natural Hot Chocolate Sweeteners
Agave nectar or syrup is a natural sweetener derived from the processing of several agave plants. It is also extensively accessible and popular these days, which has just occurred in the past decade or two, after the paleo fad.
When agave syrup is mixed with hot chocolate, it imparts a faint caramel flavor along with a full-bodied bitter taste. Bitterness is less obvious in dark roasts and more evident in lighter roasts. This sweetener is similar to honey in consistency, but it has a lower glycemic index.
According to certain studies, since it contains more fructose than regular sugar, it has a larger potential for negative health impacts. Many natural sweeteners, like stevia and sugar alcohols, may be better alternatives to agave syrup.
Sugar Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is a thick, sweet liquid generated from the sap of maple trees that includes trace minerals and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. If you like nutty tastes, you may add this popular sweetener to your hot chocolate.
Nevertheless, since maple syrup contains significant levels of sugar, it should be used in moderation. Furthermore, avoid purchasing pancake syrup, which is sometimes produced from corn syrup and does not provide all of the advantages of real maple syrup.
Vanilla Bean Extract
Vanilla is another natural sweetener that pairs nicely with chocolate. I can assure you that it is everything from simple. Vanilla extract is created by squeezing the liquid from fresh, plump vanilla pods and combining it with water and ethanol.
It has a strong vanilla scent, which serves to enhance both the sweetness and bitterness of hot chocolate. Adding vanilla extract to a cup of cocoa may give it a rich, buttery, and almost sweet taste. It also has certain health advantages.
Coconut sugar, like agave, has a low glycemic index. But, this must be eaten in moderation.
When combined with cacao, this produces a rich and earthy flavor that is more distinct and unique. It also has more vitamins and minerals than refined white sugar and a delicious caramel taste.
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