This Cacao Powder Hot Chocolate is a healthy vegan hot chocolate recipe that combines cacao powder, maca powder, cinnamon, cayenne, almond milk, and a touch of maple syrup. Gluten-free.
Move over cocoa mixes, this winter season calls for a dairy-free hot chocolate recipe with a little extra goodness.
I do love a naturally-flavored mug of vegan hot cocoa like this peanut butter hot cocoa and toasted coconut hot chocolate. But this easy recipe creates a healthy hot chocolate maca drink with ingredients right in your pantry!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Simple ingredients
- Uses a natural sweetener
- Creamy vegan hot cocoa
Ingredients and substitutions
Here are a few quick notes about the ingredients in this recipe. You can see a complete ingredient list and instructions in the recipe card below.
Unsweetened almond milk - Any non-dairy milk will work here. Soy milk, cashew milk, full fat or lite coconut milk, oat milk, or a combination of almond milk and another plant-based milk.
Cacao powder - Besides the rich dark chocolate flavor, cacao powder provides vitamins, minerals, and other health benefits. Unsweetened cocoa powder can be substituted.
Maca powder - This adaptogenic powder has a nutty, malty flavor. It can be omitted if needed.
Maple syrup - Adds a rich sweetness without refined sugar. Other natural sweeteners like agave nectar or honey (not vegan), will work well. Alternatively, coconut sugar can be used.
Ground cinnamon - This spice adds warmth, flavor, and antioxidant properties!
Cayenne pepper and sea salt - Antioxidants included, cayenne adds a bit of heat, and sea salt adds depth.
Vanilla extract - You'll want to use pure vanilla extract for the best quality and flavor.
Before you start: Set out all ingredients. This goes together quickly!
Step 1: In a small saucepan over low heat, add your dairy-free milk. After giving the almond milk a few minutes to warm, whisk in cacao powder, maca powder, cinnamon, a good pinch of salt, and cayenne. When large clumps have dissolved, whisk in maple syrup and vanilla extract.
Step 2: Remove from heat and pour into mugs. Top with coconut cream or other toppings if desired.
Serving hot chocolate
The are some great additions or variations you can make to this recipe. Some, though, will add sugar.
For that rich mint chocolate flavor, omit the cayenne and ground cinnamon and add a bit of peppermint extract. Garnish with coconut whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Add mini vegan marshmallows, cacao nibs, or vegan chocolate chips.
In their natural form, both 100% cacao and unsweetened cocoa powders are gluten-free. It is important to check for the gluten-free label as some brands are processed on the same equipment as ingredients with gluten and can cause cross-contamination.
Maca powder is made from maca root, a cruciferous vegetable found in Peru It can be used in drinks, baked goods, smoothies, and soups. Maca is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, supports energy and stamina, and even works to balance hormones and stress. Maca is considered an adaptogen.
Traditional hot chocolate is made with cow's milk, heavy cream, or half and half. Vegan recipes use nondairy milk and dairy-free cocoa powder or chocolate.
Cacao powder has a more acidic and bitter chocolate flavor than cocoa powder that has been processed.
More winter drinks
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Cacao Powder Hot Chocolate
- coconut cream
- chocolate shavings
- cacao nibs
- In a small saucepan over low heat, add almond milk. After giving the almond milk a few minutes to warm, whisk in cacao powder, maca powder, cinnamon, sea salt, and cayenne.
- When large clumps have dissolved, whisk in maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk periodically until mixture is smooth and desired temperature is achieved. If you find you prefer it sweeter, add more maple syrup as desired.
- Remove from heat and pour into mugs. Top with coconut cream or other toppings if desired.
- mini vegan marshmallows
- vegan chocolate chips
- sprinkle of cinnamon