What’s the Difference Between Hot Cocoa and Hot Chocolate?

Question: What’s the Difference Between Hot Cocoa and Hot Chocolate?

Answer: As if there isn’t enough confusion in the world already, you hear some people talking about hot cocoa and others talking about hot chocolate. While these terms are frequently used interchangeably, historically, hot cocoa and hot chocolate are not the same. Do you know what’s the differences between hot cocoa and hot chocolate?

In practical terms, the differences between hot cocoa and hot chocolate depend upon who’s making and advertising these beverages. At this writing, there is no legal definition for either hot cocoa or hot chocolate in the US. That means that someone can label absolutely anything as either hot cocoa or hot chocolate. But according to tradition, there are differences.

Traditionally, hot cocoa is a thin, sweetened beverage, made from cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. Hot cocoa may or may not contain other flavorings, such as vanilla, liqueur, or spices. Hot cocoa is often less rich and sweeter than hot chocolate.

Historically, hot chocolate (also called drinking chocolate or sipping chocolate), is made with actual chocolate (often shaved or ground into fine pieces so it melts quickly). Because of the high fat content of chocolate, hot chocolate is richer than hot cocoa. Hot chocolate made be made with water (traditional in some parts of Europe) or with milk. It is usually less sweet than hot cocoa, and many makers of hot chocolate pride themselves on having their product be a thick, bittersweet beverage.

Because hot chocolate (or drinking chocolate or sipping chocolate) sounds more upscale and swanky than hot cocoa, some manufacturers of hot cocoa mixes label their product as a hot chocolate. Bot both hot cocoa and hot chocolate can be equally satisfying, depending upon the circumstances and your mood.