Spicy Aztec Hot Cocoa

I made an impulse buy the other day… one of those little packets of Mexican hot cocoa mix. I constantly crave hot cocoa this time of year and I’ve always wanted to try Mexican hot cocoa. In the back of my mind I knew nothing good could come of this little packet of powder, but something in me wanted to believe that it would be yummy. Anyway, it was less than impressive, much less. As usual, I thought, “I could do this better!” So, I made my own version: Spicy Aztec Hot Cocoa.

My version, although unbelievably simple, truly WOW-ed me. Seriously. I know you’re supposed to use really high quality cocoa and high quality spices for this, but I just used my run of the mill pantry basics and got a really rich cocoa with a nice earthy and spicy kick. I don’t think I can ever go back to plain cocoa.

Spicy Aztec Hot Cocoa

Overhead view of a mug full of Aztec Hot Cocoa topped with whipped cream and garnished with a cinnamon stick. A bottle of cayenne pepper on the side.

How is Aztec Cocoa Different from Regular Hot Cocoa?

The cinnamon adds a little depth, earthiness, and warmth that regular cocoa doesn’t have. Thanks to the molasses in brown sugar, this hot cocoa is a little more rich than cocoa sweetened with white sugar. And then the pinch of cayenne provides just the right amount of burn in the back of my throat to make you giggle with glee. This stuff is awesome.

Just a fair warning – the spices do not totally dissolve in milk because, well, they’re not dissolvable. So, there will be some sediment on the bottom of your mug. If you’re a French press coffee drinker, this will not bother you.

Make a Big Batch for Gifts

Want to make a bunch of the mix to give as a gift? Here are the quantities to make 2 cups of cocoa mix:

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Use 2 tablespoons of cocoa mix per 8 ounces of hot milk.

Overhead view of a pair of hands with gloves holding a mug full of Aztec hot cocoa topped with whipped cream and a pinch of cayenne

This Spicy Aztec Hot Cocoa is really good topped with whipped cream as well. Check out my tutorial on how to make homemade whipped cream (it only takes 5 minutes)! 

Can I Use Non-Dairy Milk?

Yes, absolutely! I think almond, soy, coconut, or oat milk would all work great in this recipe!

 
Print Recipe
4.75 from 4 votes

Spicy Aztec Hot Cocoa

This Aztec cocoa is rich and warm with a slight kick from cayenne pepper and cinnamon to heat you up inside and out, no matter how cold it is outside!
Total Cost: $0.34 recipe / $0.34 serving
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 5 mins
Servings: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder ($0.04)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon ($0.02)
  • 1/16 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.01)
  • 8 oz milk (2% fat or higher) ($0.25)

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, stir together the cocoa powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne.
  • Heat the milk until hot, but not boiling. (Heat in a small sauce pan over medium-low, whisking often, or microwave for about 1.5 – 2 minutes).
  • Once the milk is hot, whisk in the cocoa and spices. Drink. Be happy.

Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Overhead view of a mug full of Spicy Aztec Hot Cocoa with a bottle of cayenne and cinnamon sticks on the side

 

How to Make Spicy Aztec Hot Cocoa – Step By Step Photos

Aztec Cocoa Spices in a small white bowl
This is all that is needed to take cocoa from “yum” to “warm fuzzies all over”: 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1/16 tsp cayenne pepper. To measure the cayenne pepper, I just filled my 1/8th tsp measuring spoon half way. If you’re sensitive to spices, try just a pinch of cayenne first… a pinch would probably be like 1/32. Of course, that’s just a guess.

Aztec Cocoa Spices Mixed
You don’t have to mix the spices and sugar together before adding them to the milk, but I find it a bit easier this way. It will still be a little lumpy because of the moisture in the brown sugar.

Hot milk in a sauce pan with a whisk
Heat 8oz. of milk over medium-low heat, stirring often, until hot. Or, you can just use a microwave (1.5-2 minutes is usually good).

Spices being added to milk in the sauce pot
Once hot, whisk the mixed cocoa and spices into the milk. 

Spices whisked into hot milk in the sauce pot

Whisk until everything is pretty well combined. There will likely be a little sediment on the bottom, but not a huge amount. 

Aztec Hot Cocoa being poured from the sauce pot into a mug

Pour the Aztec Cocoa into a mug and enjoy!

front view of a pair of hands with gloves holding a mug full of Spicy Aztec Hot Cocoa with whipped cream

This spicy Aztec Cocoa is the ULTIMATE soul warmer.