When the bitter air bites, a steaming cup of cocoa is the perfect fix for winter’s chills. Set up a DIY hot cocoa bar so everyone can create their own favorite flavors or try these decadent hot chocolate recipes made with local ingredients.

10 Recipes for Your DIY Cocoa Bar

Mug O' Love

Basic Hot Chocolate

For each of the following recipes, start by making your cup of cocoa. For instant satisfaction, grab a bag of Mug O’ Love made by Fresh Coast Chocolate (previously Just Good Chocolate). You can find Just Good Chocolate products online or at various stores across Northern Michigan. Find a store near you!

If you want to make homemade hot chocolate, or if you want to mix it up with white or dark chocolates, try this recipe.

Homemade Hot Chocolate (Serves 4)


  • 4 cups of whole milk
  • 8 ounces of chocolate (semi-sweet, dark, or white)
  • 3 teaspoons of powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt


  1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces.
  2. Pour the milk into a small pot on low heat and bring to a low simmer. Whisk occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3. If you plan to add herbs or spices, add the herbs or spices to the milk, bring to a simmer then take off heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the vanilla, powdered sugar, salt, and chocolate and whisk vigorously until the chocolate has melted.
  5. Heat to your desired temperature, constantly stirring.

Organic Natural Peanut Butter

Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Peanut butter and chocolate are a classic combination. You and your kids are sure to love this one!


  • 2 Tablespoons Naturally Nutty smooth peanut butter
  • Small pinch of sea salt (optional)


  1. Add the peanut butter to your cup of cocoa. Stir until melted.
  2. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt for extra flavor!

Find Naturally Nutty products online or at Meijer in Traverse City.

Miller Brothers Maple Products

Spicy Maple Hot Chocolate

For a true Northern Michigan cup of cocoa, just add maple syrup!


  • 1-2 Tablespoons Miller Brothers maple syrup
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 2-3 dashes of cayenne (optional)
  • Pinch of salt (optional)


  1. Add the maple syrup and cinnamon to your cocoa. Mix well.
  2. For a little kick, add the cayenne and salt.

Miller Brothers Maple Products is located at 707 North Gerber Rd., Mio. Contact them at 989.826.5073.

Mulling Spice & Cardamon

Cardamom & Orange Spiced Cocoa

To spice up your cocoa, add a little zest. Literally.


  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (heaping full)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg and ginger
  • Orange zest to finish

Note: Instead of using ground spices, you can substitute with mulling spices which include cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and orange rind.


  1. Add the cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to your cocoa. Mix well.
  2. Top with orange zest.

Suttons Bay Trading Company products are available online and at 310 N. St. Joseph St., Suttons Bay. Contact them at 231.271.7423.

Cherries Fruit Topping

Cherry Hot Chocolate

Cherries are another classic Northern Michigan treat, so why not add them to your cocoa?


  • 2 Tablespoons syrup from Cherry Republic Cherries Fruit Topping


  1. Spoon out syrup from the fruit toppings and add to cocoa. Stir well.
  2. For an extra treat, finish with whipped cream and more cherry fruit topping!

Find Cherry Republic products online or at their various locations. Find a store near you!

Mocha Hot Chocolate

Coffee and chocolate? It’s simply a must.


  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1 Tablespoon Mug O’ Love cocoa


  1. Add the cocoa to your cup of coffee. Stir well.
  2. Having a bad morning? Top with whipped cream and mini chocolate chips.

Find Cottage Morning coffee on ShopMyNorth.com.

Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate

Pumpkin pie is always in season.


  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • Whipped cream and additional pumpkin spice to sprinkle on top


  1. Add the vanilla and pumpkin spice to a cup of white hot chocolate (recipe above under ‘basic hot chocolate’). Stir well.
  2. Sprinkle pumpkin spice on top. Add a cinnamon stick for more flavor.

Suttons Bay Trading Company products are available online and at 310 N. St. Joseph St., Suttons Bay. Contact them at 231.271.7423.


Egg Nog Hot Chocolate

Try this holiday spin on a classic recipe.


  • 3 cups Moomers eggnog
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped fine
  • 2 Tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • Nutmeg


  1. Heat the eggnog and milk on medium-low heat until the mixture starts to simmer.
  2. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Continue to whisk frequently for about 5-8 minutes, until the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Get eggnog at Moomers Traverse City location at 7263 N. Long Lake Rd. Contact them at 231.941.4122.

Gingerbread Spices

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

This recipe is full of sugar, spice, and all things nice!


  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • top with a pinch of brown sugar and salt


  1. Add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice to your cocoa. Stir well.
  2. Top with a pinch of brown sugar and salt. Serve with homemade gingerbread!

Suttons Bay Trading Company products are available online and at 310 N. St. Joseph St., Suttons Bay. Contact them at 231.271.7423.

Benjamin Twiggs Cherry Fudge

Double Cherry Fudge Hot Chocolate

Cherries and fudge? We’re in!


  • 1 Tablespoon Benjamin Twiggs Cherry Fudge Ice Cream Topping

Note: If you want a little extra cherry flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon Benjamin Twiggs cherry concentrate!


  1. Add the cherry fudge topping to your cocoa. Stir well.

Find Benjamin Twiggs products online or at 1213 E. Front St., Traverse City.

Want a sweet treat to go with your hot cocoa bar? Find more cold-weather recipes in the MyNorth recipe directory!

More Northern Michigan Winter Recipes:

Photo(s) by Courtney Jerome