There's nothing better on a cold day than a thick and creamy cup of hot chocolate. As a kid, I specifically remember having two different types. There was the powdered one that came in a pouch with tiny dehydrated mini marshmallows that always came out watery and lumpy no matter how much you stirred, and then there was the traditional kind of hot chocolate that was so heavy and thick that I could hardly ever finish a whole cup. I set out to replicate the more traditional thicker one, but in a way that makes it healthy enough to drink every day.
For me, this means no sugar and no heavy coconut cream. To make this beverage sweet without sugar, I used soft dates which add the perfect amount of sweet caramel flavor in an unrefined whole food package.
The magical thickening ingredient in this recipe is canned pumpkin puree. Not only does pumpkin make this beverage extra creamy, but it also has loads of fiber and nutrients. This makes for a wonderfully creamy and smooth texture without having to use as many heavy, high-fat ingredients.
To make this hot chocolate extra rich I sometimes add just a teaspoon of nut butter. It isn't really necessary at all, though I do find it helps to cover up the earthy flavor of the ashwagandha root powder which I've been adding in lately, but you totally can skip that ingredient if you don't have it/don't want it.
I've never been one to buy into the hype around "superfoods" or ayurvedic herbs and supplements, but I decided to try ashwagandha when I heard about its ability to balance hormones. There's just not enough research to say for sure that it actually does anything, but as someone who has been on and off hormonal contraceptives many times throughout my early 20s, I decided to give it a try and see for myself if I notice any differences. I'll report back if I do!
This hot chocolate becomes so frothy from the blending process that it almost reminds me of a latte, but with much less effort than actually frothing and steaming the milk. It's as easy as throwing everything in a blender and pressing a button. I usually heat it up in a mug in the microwave to save dishes, but if you prefer to use the stovetop to heat it up that's definitely another good option.
For an extra-decadent dessert version, I like to top it off with some vegan whipped cream (the kind I use is made from rice milk) and an extra pinch of cinnamon. Even without the whip, it's still such a delicious cozy drink on its own. It's a deliciously healthy and nutrient-rich way to warm up and relax on a cold wintery day.
Recipe video & written recipe below!