Are Hot Chocolate and Cocoa Powder the Same?

Are Hot Chocolate and Cocoa Powder the Same?

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means that Buzzy Kitchen earns commission from purchases made – at absolutely no extra cost to you. Thank you so much for supporting Buzzy Kitchen!

It’s definitely the season for a warming cup of hot chocolate, hot cocoa, drinking chocolate, hot chocolate milk, or whatever you like to call it. Speaking of which, what is this drink known where you live? And have you ever wondered: Are hot chocolate and cocoa powder the same? Can you use one in place of the other? And what will happen if you do?

Why don’t we find out?

Are Hot Chocolate and Cocoa Powder the Same?

In a word: no. They are not the same.

These days, hot chocolate, hot cocoa, cocoa powder, hot chocolate milk, and drinking chocolate are all used interchangeably, to mean the same thing: a hot, chocolate-flavoured beverage.

If you want to get really picky about things though, there are some pretty big differences between them.

Let’s break it down.

What is Hot Chocolate?

We all know what hot chocolate is, right? As previously mentioned, it’s a hot, chocolate-flavoured beverage, typically enjoyed in cold weather. It can be infused with a wide number of other flavours, and even boozy ingredients can be added.

Traditionally, however, hot chocolate was made with melted chocolate. It was, quite literally, hot chocolate. Not a chocolate-flavoured beverage; an actual glass of melted chocolate with cream, milk, etc. The additional ingredients would very much depend on where in the world you were drinking it.

You don’t have to use a slab of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. You can use chocolate flakes, chips, shavings, swirls, or any old chocolate bars that you happen to have lying around your home. (Snickers-flavoured hot chocolate, anyone?)

It just needs to be actual chocolate, not powdered cocoa powder.

(I guess the clue is in the name.)

What is Cocoa Powder?

Hot cocoa or cocoa powder is the stuff you’re probably already drinking at home. You’re probably calling it ‘hot chocolate,’ too – but that’s okay. The Hot Chocolate Police aren’t going to come and arrest you if you call your drink by the wrong name. (I hope.)

Hot Chocolate Police

The cocoa is first made by a process of drying, fermenting, and roasting cocoa beans. Hot cocoa is made by mixing cocoa powder with liquid. This can be water, milk, or substitute milk (almond, hazelnut, soy, etc.).

Sometimes, you’ll need to add sugar otherwise the drink will taste bitter. Some cocoa drinking products, particularly those marketed as “hot chocolate,” will contain sugar and other additives already, so you won’t need to add it. (Unless that’s the way you want it, obviously.)

Cadbury’s Drinking Hot Chocolate (note the ‘drinking’ part of the name) contains the following ingredients:

“Sugar, Cocoa Powder, Salt, Flavouring.”

Hot Chocolate vs Cocoa Powder: What’s the Difference?

Hot chocolate is made with actual chocolate, so it tends to be quite a bit thicker than its cocoa counterpart. It’s also sweeter, requiring no additional sugar or other ingredients.

Cocoa powder on its own, however, does need additional sweeteners. These are often added in the manufacturing process.

As you can probably imagine, hot chocolate takes a bit longer to make than hot cocoa. With the latter, you usually throw the ingredients into a mug, add hot water or milk, then give it a good stir. It’s the quickest and easiest of the two to make. If you’re feeling particularly fancy, you might add some whipped cream, a boozy shot, decorations, etc.

With hot chocolate, you must go through the process of melting the chocolate and then mixing it, carefully and slowly, with hot or warm milk, water, or milk substitute.

Are Hot Chocolate and Cocoa Powder the Same?

The Hot Chocolate and Cocoa Powder Debate: Conclusion

Basically, if you’re making your drink with anything other than real, melted chocolate, you’re drinking what is technically known as hot cocoa or drinking chocolate.

If it doesn’t have actual chocolate in it, it’s not hot chocolate.

(Don’t be facetious about it, trolls; you know what I mean.)

By Buzzy Kitchen

Lovers of food, owners of opinions, pleased to share!