Spirited Hot Cocoa with Chocolate Whipped Cream is one of the decadent luxuries we should allow ourselves once in awhile. 

spirited hot cocoa nightcap


And the perfect time for indulging is New Year’s Eve, isn’t it?  Spirited Hot Chocolate with Chocolate Whipped Cream is just one my “over-the-top” New Year’s Eve party ideas! 

You can get started with all your planning by reading Part One here: Over-the-Top New Year’s Eve Party Ideas

On January 1st, we’re all besieged with thoughts of organizing, exercising and making a few resolutions for the new year.  So, why not indulge yourself and your friends on New Year’s Eve?



First, this recipe for a Spirited Hot Cocoa with Chocolate Whipped Cream uses chopped dark chocolate instead of cocoa powder.

Second, a combination of whole milk and half-and-half gives the chocolate a rich, creamy base in which to melt.  The results are a thick and smooth treat that finishes with just a touch of brandy or bourbon.

Oh, and don’t forget the frothy mustache you’ll all have as you enjoy this lovely libation!  It’s a real hoot!  (actually, you see I’ve included straws so we gals don’t ruin our lipstick!)



According to “the source”, that is Wikipedia, a nightcap is an alcoholic beverage consumed right before bed. Typically it’s of a higher alcohol content than what might have been enjoyed earlier in the evening. 

Just like the cap worn by those old guys in movies, it’s meant to leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling.  What better way to greet the cold trip home in these chilly winter months.  (Obviously, your guests won’t be leaving as soon as they finish their drinks!)


homemade amaretto liqueur recipe


  • Give your guests a little break from alcohol towards the end of the evening; circulate with a tray of sparkling waters and fruit juice spritzers to help cleanse their palates
  • A nightcap should be a one-off, not “one more” of whatever you and your guests are drinking
  • Set your last drink “apart” and pick something special, something to savor at the end of a fabulous night
  • A nightcap should also be brown (it’s just one of those rules).  So Spirited Hot Cocoa with Chocolate Whipped Cream certainly fits the bill!
  • As a rule, a nightcap shouldn’t stray too far from what was served throughout the party. It should bring them together and offer a fitting, not a dissonant conclusion.
  • Perhaps most important, a nightcap should be warming.  Part of the allure of a whiskey or brandy imbued libation is a warmth at the back of the throat. After the initial burn subsides, only a soothing comfort remains.



My recipe for Spirited Hot Cocoa with Chocolate Whipped Cream can be made far ahead of serving.  Hence, it makes the perfect “make ahead” hot chocolate recipe for your New Year’s Eve nightcap.

NAN’S TIP:   If you will be reheating the hot chocolate mixture, omit the alcohol when preparing the recipe.  After reheating the hot cocoa at serving time, add the alcohol to the mixture and whisk well to combine.   

Why not serve a specialty “nightcap” to your New Year’s Eve guests this year?  Try my Spirited Hot Cocoa with Chocolate Whipped Cream and delight everyone with your creativity and great style!



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spirited hot cocoa nightcap

Spirited Hot Cocoa with Chocolate Whipped Cream

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Thick and creamy, this "adult cocoa" is a fabulous way to bring back the tradition of sharing "a nightcap" with friends at the end of a cold, wintery evening.


  • 18 ounces whole milk
  • 18 ounces half-and-half
  • 2 cups good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Additional sugar to reach desired sweetness
  • 9 ounces bourbon or brandy
  • 8 ounces heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Chocolate shavings for garnish
  • Whole almonds for garnish
  • Optional: straws for serving


  1. Place a medium mixing bowl and electric beaters in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  2. Have your cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, vanilla and almond extract measured and ready to add to whipped cream.
  3. When freezer time is up, prepare a large mixing bowl with some ice and cold water at the bottom.
  4. Remove bowl and beaters from freezer. Place medium bowl inside the large bowl with ice and beat cream until it starts to reach the soft peak stage.
  5. Start adding the confectioner's sugar and cocoa in three batches, alternating and beating between additions.
  6. When stiff peaks form, cover and place in refrigerator until ready to use. (you can prepare the chocolate whipped cream up to 1 hour before serving)
  7. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the whole milk and chocolate to the pot. Whisk occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted.
  8. Add half-and-half, vanilla, salt, and whisk to combine. While mixture is heating, check the sweetness. If you want it sweeter, add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until desired sweetness is reached.
  9. Continue to heat cocoa mixture until it reaches a simmer. Whisk well and remove from heat.
  10. Add your choice of alcohol and stir again to combine.
  11. Keep Spirited Cocoa hot until ready to serve, but DO NOT LET IT BOIL..
  12. When ready to serve, pour cocoa into glasses, top with chocolate whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings and a whole almond.


Recipe can easily be doubled for a larger group of people. Using a piping sleeve is a stylish way to add the whipped cream to the glasses.

MAKE AHEAD TIP - wait to add alcohol until heated and ready to serve

Orange Spirited Cocoa Version: Substitute Grand Marnier for the almond extract in the chocolate whipped cream and the brandy/bourbon in the cocoa.

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