As I was perusing cookbooks and blogs for ideas for Hot Chocolate Week, I learned that there is a difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate. I had no idea! On most American menus, hot chocolate is the term used for all chocolate-y drinks, whether or not it is the accurate term.
So what’s the difference?
Quite simply, hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder, whereas hot chocolate is made with actual melted chocolate.
Does that really make a difference, you ask? It certainly does. Cocoa powder has been stripped of the cocoa butter and fat that gives chocolate its rich, creamy texture. Because of this, hot cocoa tends to be thinner and less sweet than hot chocolate.
Not that that’s a bad thing, necessarily. Hot cocoa contains much less fat than hot chocolate, so it is better suited for regular consumption in the cold winter months.