I love hot chocolate at Christmas time, but I can't bring myself to use junky powdered mixes and syrups that are loaded with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and nasty preservatives.
Try my recipe for homemade chocolate syrup. It's a great copycat for Hershey's syrup, stores well in the refrigerator, is delicious on ice cream, and makes super yummy hot chocolate! This recipe is easy to modify to various levels of healthy:
By using standard cocoa powder and white sugar you can create an economical alternative to Hershey's without the high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. You can improve it by using unrefined organic sugars, especially coconut sugar or rapadura sugar (sometimes known as sucanat, which is basically dehydrated and ground raw sugar cane), and raw organic cacao.
Note the spelling...there's a difference between COCOA powder and raw CACAO. Essentially they're very similar, only cocoa powder you find in the baking isle is processed at a very high temperature, while cacao comes from fermented cacao tree beans which are ground and unheated. The flavor in your finished product is nearly identical, however, cacao is less processed and acts as a gut prebiotic (the fiber feeds the good gut bacteria). Both cocoa powder and cacao contain antioxidants called flavanols but not in the same levels, so while you will get health benefits such as heart protection, improved cognitive function, elevated serotonin for an overall better mood, decreased body inflammation, and decreased risk for type 2 diabetes, cacao will give you a stronger benefit. Ultimately both versions will taste delicious and be a good alternative to commercial chocolate syrup, but the cacao, especially raw and organic, will cost more. While this may seem to tip the scales in favor of a cheaper option, keep in mind that investing in your health is priceless. Still, we should be consuming sugar in moderation and even the healthiest alternatives are still not ideal in abundance, so if you spend twice as much on cacao than you would cocoa, you're talking about a few dollars. For around three dollars more you can drink hot chocolate and eat brownies that can give you a better health boost...