This healthy dairy free hot chocolate is made with oat milk, enriched with cacao butter, and sweetened with raw honey or maple syrup. Raw cacao adds a deep chocolate flavour, with a touch of vanilla and a tiny pinch of sea salt to round it out. Skip to the recipe →
I’m obsessed with chocolate. Apart from doing my very best to eat chocolate every day, I also studied it in university – a paper I wrote on the social history of chocolate and contemporary cacao production in Belize was what I used to apply to grad programs. And even though I do find that interesting, focusing on anthropology of food was just a way to incorporate my love of chocolate (and other food) into what I thought I had to do for work, before I started on the path I’m on now.
what’s so good about chocolate?
What’s the fuss about? Cacao is extraordinarily good for us, chock-full of benefits to physical and mental health. Moderate consumption of cacao or low-sugar dark chocolate can reduce inflammation, improve mood, and even reduce risk for diabetes. This is talking about proper chocolate, though, not crappy milk chocolate or white chocolate, which doesn’t count. The study linked above is quite good if you’re interested in diving a little deeper.
Cacao is also high in magnesium, which is instrumental for bone health and calcium absorption, can help to alleviate migraines, reduce PMS, and help with anxiety among many other benefits. I always try to focus on getting enough magnesium if my hormones are out of whack, and that means drinking this dairy free hot chocolate at least once a day during my cycle (because even if it doesn’t help symptomatically, it just makes me happy).
A small amount of cacao or high quality dark chocolate each day is a good choice, and one I find easy to make. I think if you’re looking at this recipe you probably already know that dark chocolate is healthy, so let’s move on. The takeaway from this is that chocolate is amazing and you should eat (drink!) some.
Deluxe Dairy Free Hot Chocolate
I chose oat milk as the base for this dairy free hot chocolate, because it’s cheap, delicious, and easy to find/make. It keeps things light enough that you can feel great after drinking this and has a neutral taste that works well here. If you don’t have great access to oat milk – I know it’s not yet as available in the US and Canada as here – other nondairy milks will work well. Try to use one without piles of additives or make your own nut or seed milk instead.
Instead of choosing a higher-fat milk, then, we’re adding cacao butter to the mix to make this hot chocolate properly rich despite being plant-based. If you can’t easily access cacao butter, coconut butter makes a good substitution. It tastes great without, too, but the cacao butter is what turns this drink into chocolate instead of cacao water (worth noting that traditional cacao drinks were unsweetened & made with water though).
Raw cacao powder is where the real health benefits are coming from here, being high in magnesium, copper, and polyphenols (essentially antioxidants). To avoid overheating and losing a lot of the good stuff from the cacao, just the milk is heated before adding the remaining ingredients. I generally sweeten with raw honey, but maple syrup is the best vegan option and adds a nice flavour. Vanilla paste, powder, or extract rounds it out, alongside a tiny pinch of salt.
P.S. I also have a beet hot chocolate recipe if you want to go even further and sneak some veggies in – and I recently rounded up my top 20 healthy chocolate recipes if you’re looking for more chocolate inspiration.
foam without milk
I highly recommend using an immersion blender to mix the hot chocolate if you have one. It creates the foam you see in the photos and really ensures a good emulsification. If it’s not properly mixed, you’ll end up with the cacao butter floating to the surface of your drink and that’s not very pleasant. You can make this without a stick blender – it’s possible to use a normal blender, or whisk like mad until very foamy and well combined.
You could also top this off with some coconut whipped cream – although you’re veering further away from seeing this as a health drink in that case – or use a milk foamer to make some separately from the cacao.
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• If you don't have an immersion blender, either whisk until your arm falls off (or until fully blended, your choice) or use a heat-safe blender. * In a pinch, you can substitute coconut butter for the cacao butter. ** If you don't have vanilla paste (though I highly recommend it here) use 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla powder. To use extract, use a full teaspoon and heat it along with the milk.
• If you don't have an immersion blender, either whisk until your arm falls off (or until fully blended, your choice) or use a heat-safe blender.
* In a pinch, you can substitute coconut butter for the cacao butter.
** If you don't have vanilla paste (though I highly recommend it here) use 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla powder. To use extract, use a full teaspoon and heat it along with the milk.