Spring is still a month away, and the temperatures in much of the country confirm that winter is holding fast. Normally I'd turn to a hot cocktail on a cold day, but sometimes I want to warm up without resorting to booze. Of course, there are the basics—hot chocolate, coffee, or mulled cider—but there are other options, too. If you need help coping with your winter blues, we have seven non-alcoholic hot drink recipes to give you a hand.
Spiced Mulled Cider
I grew up thinking that mulling cider just meant tossing in a few cinnamon sticks and maybe some jarred spices, but you can do better than that. Our upgraded mulled cider is made with a variety of apple-friendly whole spices: cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, coriander, and star anise. You can spike the cider with a little brandy if you want, but I honestly prefer it booze-free.
Barbajada (Milanese Hot Chocolate-Coffee Drink)
Can't decide between coffee and hot chocolate? Barbajada combines the two for the best of both worlds. You barely need a recipe here&mdsh;all there is to it is mixing homemade hot chocolate with coffee, whisking until frothy, and topping with whipped cream (believe me, you don't want to skip the whipped cream).
Parisian Hot Chocolate
Prefer your hot chocolate with a little less of a caffeine jolt? This thick, European-style version will do the trick. We make it with milk chocolate for richness and a little bit of 60% bittersweet chocolate for extra flavor. This is seriously intense stuff—skip the mug and serve it in an espresso cup.
Homemade Swiss Miss With Mini Marshmallows
Ultra-rich drinking chocolate has its place, but I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the powdered mix. This recipe recreates cocoa mix without artificial ingredients. The recipe gets its flavor from cocoa powder and dark chocolate and its body from white chocolate. A dash of instant coffee helps cut the sweetness.
Champurrado (Mexican Hot Chocolate and Corn Drink)
Atole is a hot Mexican drink thickened with masa harina para tortillas, finely ground nixtamalized corn flour. There are lots of ways to flavor atole—use chocolate and you get champurrado. Champurrado has the richness of drinking chocolate, but since it uses less dairy, it's not as overwhelmingly rich.
Peanut Atole (Hot Mexican Corn Drink With Peanut Flavor)
This recipe uses the same technique as our champurrado, but we skip the chocolate and blend creamy peanut butter into the milk before mixing it with the water-and-masa mixture—for the best flavor we'd recommend a "natural" peanut butter with no salt or sugar added. Be careful to mix the water into the masa slowly to avoid lumps.
Orange Atole (Hot Mexican Corn Drink With Orange Zest)
For something a little more brightly flavored, try this atole made with orange zest-infused milk (plus aromatic star anise, if you have it). With all of these atole recipes you can thin them to taste—we think that the light orange flavor of this one calls for a little extra water.