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Ready to take your Christmastime Chocolate Orange to a new level of (year ’round) obsession? Whip up this decadent chocolate orange hot cocoa recipe.
Chocolate Orange Hot Cocoa RecipeThis page includes affiliate links.

Last week I hit the road and headed to western New York State with some food blogger friends for the American Dairy Association Northeast Undeniably Dairy press trip. Our 2-day schedule was packed with learning more about the dairy industry, touring a cheese factory, visiting a dairy farm, and taking part in 2 cooking competitions at the New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua, New York.

The first cooking competition was a macaroni and cheese throwdown where we brought our very best mac and cheese to compete against 23 other food bloggers and registered dieticians.

Bring on the dairy-based beverage competition with a cup of my chocolate orange hot cocoa recipe.

The second competition was divided into 3 categories: appetizer, dessert, beverage. I was given the beverage category and I put my thinking cap on, coming up with everything from boozy milkshake ideas to chai lattes to  my newest hot cocoa recipe, this decadent chocolate orange hot cocoa.

Start by toasting cinnamon stick and green cardamom in a large saucepan to bring out the orange flavor that stars in this hot cocoa, then add milk (whole milk, which is really only 3% milk, is preferable) and orange zest then set the mixture over medium heat to warm the milk and bring it to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, infusing the spices and orange zest into the milk.

Cinnamon and Cardamom toasting for Chocolate Orange Hot Cocoa

Once the milk has a nice subtle flavor of orange, cinnamon, and cardamom, strain the spices and zest out with a fine mesh sieve and stirring the chocolate until melted for an easy delicious hot cocoa that tastes just like one of those Christmas chocolate oranges you find in stores for a reasonable price at limited times of the year. You can also find them on Amazon. You won’t believe how much they sell for!

Orange Zest Infused Milk for Chocolate Orange Hot Cocoa

Add a splash of bourbon if you’d like to make this chocolate orange hot cocoa an adult beverage.

If you are 21+ and enjoy bourbon, add a splash of Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey or burn the alcohol off and use the bourbon essence. Don’t go cheap with your whiskey or the flavor will ruin your hot cocoa. The addition of the oak flavor really finishes off the hot cocoa but omit if you prefer an alcohol-free or kid friendly version.

Finish each cup of chocolate orange hot cocoa with a dollop of barely sweetened whipped cream or foamed milk, a quick pinch of orange zest and a sprinkling of chocolate shavings.


Chocolate Orange Hot Cocoa

  • Author: Heather L McCurdy
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Beverage


  • 13 inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 12 green cardamom pods
  • 3 cups milk
  • 4 oz. German chocolate
  • 2 T. orange zest + enough to garnish* 
  • 2 oz. good bourbon (optional)**

Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 C. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. milk



  • Crush the cinnamon stick and green cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle or with a rolling pin then toast in a 6 cup or larger saucepan over medium high heat, shaking often.
  • While the spices are toasting, zest the oranges and measure the milk. 
  • Once your spices start releasing a warm spice scent, add the milk and orange zest.
  • Whisk to incorporate then heat to a simmer, watching carefully so the bottom doesn’t scorch.
  • Once the milk starts to form small bubbles watch it carefully and turn the burner down if the milk starts bubbling too much – you want gentle tiny bubbles only.
  • Simmer until mixture has been over heat for approximately 10 minutes (timing will vary depending how long it takes the milk to heat)
  • Strain through a fine mesh sieve into another pan or bowl and rinse remaining spices out of pan. 
  • Return milk to pan and put on burner then break up German chocolate into the milk, reserving a small corner to zest over the finished cup.
  • Whisk the chocolate into the milk until fully melted then divide between 4 cups.
  • Add 1 T. bourbon to each cup and stir then top with whipped cream, orange zest, and chocolate shavings before serving.

Whipped Cream

  • Combine heavy cream and sugar in a bowl and whisk quickly until soft peaks form or in mix in a mixer for approximately 1-2 minutes until soft peaks form.


*Zest from approx. 2 oranges

**I prefer Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Oh yeah. I didn’t win the competition but I did end up with a delicious recipe. You can’t help but say my chocolate orange hot cocoa recipe is undeniably dairy! What’s YOUR favorite dairy-based beverage recipe?
 Chocolate Orange Hot Cocoa Recipe 3
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  1. This looks so delicious and perfect for the upcoming winter season to warm you up! I love the addition of cardamom and bourbon 🙂 Stopping by from the Domestic Dayz Link up.

  2. I have to say that choclate and orange are not two things I would think to put together. But the foodie in me is really curious and feeling like I need to give this a try!

    Thanks for hooking up for #DomesticDayz

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