Recipe – Black Forest Hot Chocolate

I wrote in my post earlier last week about Christmas treats.   I love(d) to take a break from my Christmas shopping and pop into a coffee shop for a “red cup” drink and a piece of cake. However, despite being delicious and festive, there are so many things wrong with these drinks, it’s hard to know where to start.


So let’s begin with the sugar. The main thing which gives these drinks their festive flavour, is the huge amount of syrup that goes into them. Add that to the sugar in the hot chocolate powder (if that’s what you’re having), plus the sugar in the milk and you’re potentially looking at type II diabetes in a cup. For example, a Caramel Fudge Hot Chocolate from Costa packs a whopping 98.1g of sugar (or 19.5 teaspoons) of sugar in a massimo serving. Given that the World Health Organisation has just recommended that we reduce our sugar intake to 25g (or 6 teaspoons) a day, that’s pretty scary. That’s a whole 4 days’ worth and that doesn’t even cover the mini yule log you have on the side (probably).

Unsurprisingly, a drink with that much sugar, plus the fat from the milk and whipped cream topping, packs a pretty big calorie punch. We’re talking upwards of 550 calories here. That would take about an hour of running to burn off and who has time for that at this time of year?

Finally, these drinks are exactly the most unprocessed choice. Starbucks talk about the “handcrafted” nature of their products, but I’m pretty sure that the topping isn’t hand whipped fresh cream. Costa nutrition information shows that they add artificial flavourings and preservatives to their Christmas drinks, but they’re not specified. Funnily enough, none of the big chains publish the ingredients for their products.

All that said, I blooming love a black forest hot chocolate, so I’ve set about making my own version of it. This is made with real cherries (probably not quite enough to count as a portion of fruit, but still) and raw cacao, which isn’t heat treated so has lots of anti-oxidant benefits. I’ve also used just a little sweetener, so this only contains a fraction of the sugar of a coffee-chain Christmas drink, and only 3g of which is from the syrup. The results are completely delicious!

I’m still working on the cake, watch this space….


Cherry Puree (makes enough for 4 drinks):

200g of frozen dark cherries (you can get these in Sainsburys)


Hot Chocolate:

250ml milk of your choice (I like almond for this, cow juice works just as well)

1 teaspoon raw cacao

1 teaspoon sweetener of choice (I used date syrup, maple syrup or honey would also be fine)



  1. To make the cherry syrup, put the cherries in a pan with a splash of water for 15 mins or so, until really soft. Blend to a puree. The puree makes enough for 4 servings – you could freeze in ice cube trays to get out whenever you need it, or it will keep in the fridge for a few days and is equally delicious stirred into porridge or on yogurt
  2. To make the hot chocolate, heat the rest of the ingredients over a gentle heat until hot, but don’t boil
  3. Put a spoon of the puree at the bottom of your mug and top with the hot chocolate

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