Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate // shutterbean

Hot chocolate was always a special treat when we were kids. My parents would occasionally take us to IHOP after Sunday mass. We’d order our breakfasts (always french toast for me) with thick handled mugs of hot chocolate overflowing with whipped cream. My brothers would scarf theirs down immediately, while I sat there playing with the whipped cream…savoring every bit… purposely taunting them. I played the role of little sister well.

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate // shutterbean

As a mom, I employ the hot chocolate as “special treat” trick every now and then. I’ve learned as a parent that any deviation from the regular routine food-wise creates memories and really rattles a kid- in a good way. I still haven’t gotten over that time my dad tried to make us Italian wedding soup (hilarious fail!) or the bright red strawberry slushies he made us in Tahoe while he & my mom shared margaritas. The food memories stick with you- at least they have for me.  You should have seen Cooper’s face the day I let him eat popcorn while watching a movie in our bed. PURE MAGIC. Also, sorry Casey.

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate // shutterbean

Hot chocolate isn’t something Casey and I partake in. I mean… we went through a sipping chocolate phase a few years ago but for some reason that didn’t last long. Part of it stems from my weird I’d prefer not to drink my calories because I’d rather eat them ideology. But then again, I can easily be persuaded when a drink has liqueur in it. This cherry vanilla hot chocolate is rich, creamy and super decadent.  Umm. Did I mention there’s butter in it!?  And the addition of kirsch (a cherry liqueur) and white chocolate is wonderful. I gave Cooper a kids version and he wouldn’t stop talking about it ALL DAY LONG. See? Food memories formed.

I can’t imagine a more perfect drink for that special someone on Valentine’s day.

And we’re off!

We’re gonna need to scrape the beans out of half of the vanilla pod. We also need to chop up our white chocolate.

This recipe comes from the book Winter Cocktails. I am SOOO impressed with it. You wouldn’t believe how many recipes I marked to try! (pretty much all of them)

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate // shutterbean

Mix the vanilla beans with the sugar in a little bowl. Instant vanilla sugar.

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate // shutterbean

In a medium saucepan, we melt butter. Then we add in the vanilla sugar and cocoa powder.

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate // shutterbean

The idea is to make a paste.

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate // shutterbean

Now we add our milk. Keep whisking.

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate // shutterbean

And then we add the white chocolate to melt, followed by the vanilla to finish it off.

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate // shutterbean

We need to get our mugs ready. Kirsch time! I found mine at Beverages & More. I didn’t realize we have a bottle of Luxardo Cherry Liqueur at home already. OOOPS. If you have any drink recipes that involve kirsch, lemme know.

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate // shutterbean

Fill up the cups with the hot chocolate. Give it a stir. Add your whipped cream on top!

I used the whipped cream in a jar trick. You can find more about this on my Blueberry Pudding Cake recipe.

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate // shutterbean

I garnished with a maraschino cherry….BUT. BUUUUUT.

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate // shutterbean

Watch out. If your whipped cream isn’t super thick it just drops right in. Hidden treat for the first one who finishes!

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate // shutterbean

I think you’re gonna love this. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

And if you’re looking for something without booze, you might want to add a bit of grenadine to the mix.

Or maybe a cherry extract?

Cherry Vanilla Hot Chocolate

makes 2 drinks

recipe slightly adapted from Winter Cocktails

  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean pod
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/8 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean pod
  • 3 oz. chopped white chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup heaving whipping cream
  • 3 oz. kirsch (cherry liqueur)
  • 2 maraschino cherries, for serving

In a small bowl, scrape the seeds of half the vanilla bean pod and stir in the sugar to combine. Set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder,  vanilla sugar and whisk until a paste forms. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in white chocolate and cook, stirring, until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Meanwhile, place heavy whipping cream in a small jar. Close lid on the jar tightly and vigorously shake jar until whipped cream is formed, about 2-3 minutes. Serve hot chocolate in warm mugs and spike each mug with 1 1/2 oz. kirsch. Top with whipped cream and serve with maraschino cherries.

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50 Comments

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  • Jessica
    February 5, 2014

    My jaw just dropped as I read this! This looks incredible Tracy!I will take three cherries in mine (and an extra glug of kirsch)!

  • February 5, 2014

    Omg that looks SO GOOD!!! The drink, the richness of the choc, the vanilla pod, your styling, that cherry that just pops off the page, your mug…the whole thing…STUNNING!! :) pinned

  • February 5, 2014

    One word: STUNNING!

  • February 5, 2014

    Wow, really? I’m in awe of this drink. I wish I could spend my Valentine’s Day in a ski lodge sipping this with my husband. See? You just set off an imaginary food memory. I love it.

  • February 5, 2014

    Heck yes Tracy, this looks amazing. I love the pop of the cherry red in the photographs :)

  • Tracy Too
    February 5, 2014

    These look gorgeous and I love the photography. Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

    Are those mugs enamel? I am obsessed with enamelware.

    The only other cocktail recipe I know that involves kirsch is a Kir Royale, which is just champagne with a dash of kirsch in it. I think you can do it with flat white wine too. The only time I’ve ever seen it used in anything else is in cheese fondue, but you can’t drink that (not that I would be against trying…) :-)

  • This sounds AMAZING! Perfect for a nasty, snowy/icy day like today!

  • February 5, 2014

    I have everything for this, so my working from home is going to turn into “drinking allll the hot chocolate all day from home”!

  • February 5, 2014

    This is literally and I LOVE YOU in a cup. Amazingness.

  • Hilary
    February 5, 2014

    I definitely follow the same ‘I’d rather chew my calories than drink them’ motto! But I will throw that out the window for this..

    Two other things- these are BEAUTIFUL.

    And WHERE are those mugs from?! Absolutely love them.

  • February 5, 2014

    i bought some kirsch when i was i switzerland as a souvenir. hooray for a recipe to finally entice me to open it! and if youre looking for recipes to use up your kirsch, traditional swiss fondue recipes call for kirsch. and who doesnt love cheese. i mean really.

    • Tracy
      February 5, 2014

      oh yes!! good point. i’d love to add fondue to our lives. we had a bad experience with it on our honeymoon (the cheese was clumpy and didn’t melt well) so Casey is kinda “meh” about fondue. Time to change that!

  • February 5, 2014

    We just had our second snow storm in two days in Brooklyn. Everything is brown and slushy and delayed so I’m just gonna go ahead and stay home and drink allll these calories instead. You’re the best.

  • chocolate + cherry together is my favorite. I could use a cup or two right now.

  • February 5, 2014

    What a great use for kirsch! Now I am totally scheming to use all my different homemade fruit schnappses in hot chocolates of all kinds. Super excited!

  • February 5, 2014

    this is seriously ridiculously gorgeous Tracy. I am kind of freaking out over how good this looks…

    • Tracy
      February 5, 2014

      gurrrrrrl. It’s right up your alley!! You gotta make it.

  • Edith
    February 5, 2014

    My god, I can virtually feel the warm chocolate in my mouth and cream on my lips. You gave me a reason to buy kirsch liqueur….for now bourbon might have to do the trick

  • February 5, 2014

    The first thing I looked at when I saw the photo of the ingredients is your amazing little paring knife! I need to get myself something like that.

  • February 5, 2014

    So THIS is what that amazing Instagram photo was for! I totally thought you had ice cream going on. Boy would this work as ice cream too… = )

  • Carly
    February 5, 2014

    Clearly you live in a warm climate. In Winnipeg (Canada), hot chocolate is a staple. Now lemonade, THAT is a big treat for our kids. :)

    Can not wait to try this! I’ve just finished up my candy cane vodka stock from Christmas so this may be my new boozy hot chocolate for this stretch of winter.

  • February 5, 2014

    Perfect timing for our little cold spell, and hopefully a little rain. Thanks Tracy!!

  • February 5, 2014

    This sounds like the perfect after school treat for Valentine’s Day, what a way to warm up in this ridiculous weather! Beautiful.

  • February 5, 2014

    I love everything about this- that there’s a foot of snow and hot choc would be so good right now, and the fact that I could eat a whole jar of maraschino cherries by themselves. But, really, add them together and wowzers.

  • Jenna
    February 5, 2014

    Looks amazing, I want this & also cheese after reading the comment about fondue above. I think I might try it with Creme De Menthe instead of cherry as mint-chocolate is my jam.

    • Tracy
      February 5, 2014

      I bet that would be fantastic!

  • February 5, 2014

    So excited! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  • February 5, 2014

    Food memories are so special. This would be a pretty great one.

  • February 5, 2014

    You are so right about food memories. Every time the kids come in from playing in the fresh snow, they ask if i am making hot chocolate. i wish I could oblige every time but again, I don’t want to drink my calories either. Cherry is my jam so I am super excited to try this. Awesome recipe!

  • Hannah
    February 5, 2014

    Such beautiful pictures! I kept getting mesmerized by them while reading your post, love the idea of adult hot chocolate!

  • February 5, 2014

    I just loved this post :) My brothers & I would always quietly compete to see who could make their food last the longest. & you articulated the magic of food memories so well. Big grin now. & a major craving for hot chocolate. If you’re going to drink your calories you might was well drink your calories RIGHT. i.e. with butter.
    Heidi xo

  • February 5, 2014

    Yum!!! This looks so delicious :)

  • Ann
    February 6, 2014

    Mmm, not sure I can get my head around that many calories in a drink, but I could maybe, possibly, be persuaded. I have some Tuaca liquor in my cupboard left over from Christmas which could be good slurped into this, think orange/vanilla flavours just like a panettone. Aaaah.

  • February 6, 2014

    Yes to hot chocolate with actual chocolate in it! Yummmm!

  • Erin
    February 6, 2014

    I totally agree about food memories – I will never forget the time my mom set up “McMom’s” in the kitchen to serve us homemade chicken fingers and fries…or all the times she made “salami faces” using salami as a base with grated cheese for hair, cucumber circles for eyes…

  • February 6, 2014

    Wowzaaaa, definitely want to try this out. Yum!

  • mariah
    February 6, 2014

    I remember the special food moments my mom would make. Those are the best moments.

  • This almost too much good in one post. >> Drooling <<

  • Mariah S.
    February 6, 2014

    Great recipe and I loooove your mugs! :))

  • February 7, 2014

    I’m in the same “I’d prefer not to drink my calories because I’d rather eat them” camp! But THIS. This looks so wonderfully decadent. I just might have to try it.

  • February 9, 2014

    I’m not really a hot chocolate fan either. It’s the whole warm milk thing I think, but lately I have had a hankering for a big mug of something warm, creamy, chocolaty with an adult sleep-enhancing twist. This cherry vanilla hot chocolate sounds like just the right thing.
    Thanks for making something so perfectly attuned to my taste buds right now :)

  • February 13, 2014

    Best hot chocolate E-V-E-R! We’ve been iced in for three days and this is just what we needed today to break the cabin fever. Made it with my 4 and 7 year old. Substituted 2 oz. cherry juice for 3 oz. liqueur and vanilla chips for chopped white chocolate. Taste like a chocolate covered cherry. Thanks for sharing!

  • February 14, 2014

    ooooooh this is right up my alley. Makes me happy we still have some winter left. Happy Valentine’s day!
    Trish

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