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The Ultimate Hot Cocoa at Stowe Mountain Lodge

A warm cup of hot cocoa on a cold, snowy day is that special treat I always look forward to.  At Stowe Mountain Lodge, we serve gallons of our cocoa every day in the winter.  I want to share with you how to make our housemade cocoa, so that maybe the next time you think of using that cardboard drink mix, you’ll think twice. 


First let’s take a second and learn about cocoa.  The Mayas are credited with the creation of the first chocolate beverage around 2,000 years ago. The beverage became popular in Europe after being introduced from Mexico in the New World, and has undergone multiple changes since then. Until the 19th century, hot chocolate was even used medicinally to treat ailments such as stomach diseases.

Each culture has different styles of hot cocoa.  In Italy the very thick cioccolata densa is a wonderfully rich slightly chalky drink.  In Mexico the hot chocolate still has hints of chili and cinnamon.  In France, hot chocolate is often served at breakfast time; sometimes sliced bread, spread with butter, jam, honey, or Nutella, is dunked into the hot chocolate. Delicious!

When it comes to hot cocoa everyone has their favorites.  Some like rich milk chocolate, some like dark chocolate.  Some like whipped cream others like marshmallows.  At Stowe Mountain Lodge, we set out to create the best Hot Cocoa on the East Coast. With the thousands of guests that visit us in the winter, we had to make sure everyone was going to love it and look forward to it with each return visit. 

It starts and ends with chocolate. At Solstice and Hourglass, we use 65% chocolate from Switzerland to make a ganache (equal parts of heavy cream and chocolate) that is similar to a thick chocolate fudge sauce that is poured into the bottom of a large mug.  We then top the ganache with rich cocoa made from Belgium chocolate.  We top the cocoa with local, Vermont whipped cream and a dusting of shaved chocolate.

Wow does that sound good…but we’re not done yet.  After we created this cocoa, the culinary team and I decided to take it to the next level with the addition of a house made marshmallow and a scoop of our own peppermint-chocolate chip ice cream.  When you put the ice cream in the cocoa it floats, thus stopping your lips from getting burned on the hot liquid. It's an experience in a mug! 

So, next time you’re at Stowe Mountain Lodge,  order up a hot cocoa and sit next to the fireplace. This is how winter memories are made, one chocolaty sip at a time!

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