Healthy Vegan Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

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While hot cocoa is typically laden with dairy and refined sugar, this Vegan Gingerbread Hot Chocolate is a health food. Made with cacao powder and blackstrap molasses, it’s a hot chocolate you can feel good about. But thanks to a secret ingredient, it has a creamy, pudding-like texture!
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
5 from 3 votes

‘Tis the season for hot chocolate! In years past, my go-to warming beverage has been peppermint hot chocolate, but I decided to change things up this year with this gingerbread hot chocolate!

While hot chocolate is typically made with less than wholesome ingredients like refined sugar and dairy milk, this Vegan Gingerbread Hot Chocolate is so healthy I think it qualifies as a health food. It’s made with superfood ingredients like raw cacao powder and blackstrap molasses, which make this beverage packed with antioxidants and minerals like magnesium, iron, and calcium.

Despite how healthy it is, it’s also unbelievably creamy. The texture is almost as thick as pudding, thanks to a secret ingredient. If you want to see just how thick this hot chocolate is, be sure to watch the video starting around the 01:20 mark.

WHAT I EAT TO STAY HEALTHY DURING WINTER | easy + vegan
WHAT I EAT TO STAY HEALTHY DURING WINTER | easy + vegan

In addition to being creamy, this hot chocolate is loaded with warming gingerbread spices, which make it all the better for a cosy winter treat.

Healthy Vegan Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

Why is this hot chocolate so healthy?

Refined Sugar-Free

Most hot chocolate is typically made with refined sugars (white sugar or even bottled syrups…gasp!), but this one is made with pure maple syrup and blackstrap molasses. While maple syrup’s distinctive rich flavor and blackstrap molasses’s bitter sweetness might be too overwhelming in many hot chocolate recipes, they work perfectly with this gingerbread-flavored hot chocolate.

If you are trying to really limit your sugars, you can use less maple syrup than called for in the recipe (e.g., 1 or 2 teaspoons instead of 2 tablespoons). Give it a taste and a bit more as needed.

You could omit the maple syrup entirely and just use the blackstrap molasses, but it will be a rather bittersweet hot chocolate (bittersweet as in sweet yet bitter flavors, not bittersweet as in those happy yet sad moments that bring a tear to your eyes). Think of this hot chocolate recipe as an 75% dark chocolate and the hot chocolate with just blackstrap molasses as 90% dark chocolate.

Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses is NOT the same thing as regular ol’ molasses. I repeat, they are not the same thing! If you want an in-depth scientific explanation of their differences, read this post at Serious Eats.

In short, molasses has an amber color and is relatively sweet, with a sugar content of around 70%. In contrast, blackstrap molasses is well, black. It is denser in texture, tastes pretty bitter, and it has a sugar content of only about 45%.

This is why baked goods made with blackstrap molasses can taste bitter and why blackstrap molasses qualifies as a health food, but regular ol’ molasses does not.

But blackstrap molasses is quite good for you. It’s rich in magnesium, iron, calcium, selenium, and Vitamin B6. In just one tablespoon of blackstrap molasses, you’ll get approximately:

  • 10% of your daily Calcium needs

  • 20% of your daily Iron needs

  • 8-10% of your daily Magnesium needs

Calcium and magnesium are essential for bone health and help in preventing osteoporosis, whereas iron is important for red blood cell health and helps prevent anemia.

Healthy Vegan Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

Raw Cacao Powder

This hot chocolate is also made with raw cacao powder instead of processed cocoa powder. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with standard cocoa powder and use it often in my baking, but raw cacao powder qualifies as a superfood.

Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that has been roasted at high temperatures. The roasting process changes the the molecular structure of the cocoa bean and removes some of the nutritional content.

Basically, raw cacao powder is unprocessed and packed with healthy enzymes, antioxidants, nutrients, and minerals, while cocoa powder is a much more processed food. Cacao powder is an incredibly rich source of magnesium and is also a good source of fiber, iron, potassium, and even protein!

In 2 1/2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder (the amount in one serving of this hot chocolate), you’ll get approximately:

  • 25% of your daily Magnesium needs

  • 10% of your daily Iron needs

  • 6% of your daily Potassium needs

  • 19% of your daily Fiber needs

  • 4 grams of Protein (surprise!)

Healthy Vegan Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

Secret Ingredient: how is this hot chocolate so creamy?

The answer is arrowroot powder!

Arrowroot (Maranta arundinaceaI) is a starchy tuber native to Southeast Asia and it’s usually processed into a white powdery starch, known as arrowroot powder or arrowroot flour. It’s often used as a thickener in cooking and baking and is gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, and paleo.

In contrast to cornstarch, which is heavily processed and can leave food with a slight chalky aftertaste and slightly opaque look, arrowroot powder is more wholesome, less processed, has no taste, and leaves food looking shiny and glossy.

To thicken arrowroot powder, you treat it similarly to cornstarch. First, make a slurry by mixing the arrowroot powder with a small amount of cold liquid (usually water, but in this recipe, we’re using plant-based milk). Then pour that slurry into your hot chocolate (or sauce, gravy, etc.) at the end of the recipe. In this case, you add the slurry once the hot chocolate is at a rapid simmer and whisk constantly until the hot chocolate has thickened.

Arrowroot powder doesn’t need very much time to thicken and usually thickens more quickly than cornstarch. In fact, in this recipe, the arrowroot powder needs just 30-45 seconds to fully thicken. Resist the temptation to cook it longer, as arrowroot powder tends to break down at higher temperatures and will thus become thin again.

If you don’t have arrowroot powder, you can substitute cornstarch. It will take a little longer to thicken, about 1-2 minutes, and it won’t be as glossy in appearance. Also, keep in mind, that if you double (or triple) this recipe, it will take longer than the 30-45 seconds for the arrowroot powder (or the 1-2 minutes for the cornstarch) to thicken up the hot chocolate.

Healthy Vegan Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

Pair it with something more decadent

If you want to be a little naughty, try pairing this hot chocolate with any of these sweet treats:

That’s all you need to know about this easy, refined-sugar-free Vegan Gingerbread Hot Chocolate! If you make it, leave me a comment below or over on Youtube!

Healthy Vegan Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

5 from 3 votes
While hot cocoa is typically laden with dairy and refined sugar, this Vegan Gingerbread Hot Chocolate is a health food. Made with cacao powder and blackstrap molasses, it’s a hot chocolate you can feel good about. But thanks to a secret ingredient, it has a creamy, pudding-like texture!
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Diet Vegan
Keyword: chocolate, drinks, gingerbread, gluten-free, holidays, hot chocolate, nut-free, refined sugar free, soy-free, winter
Serving size: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces or 360 mL) plant-based milk*, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Scant 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Scant 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 ½ tablespoons (15-20g) raw cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup**
  • 1/2 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder***

Instructions

  • Pour 1 cup (8 ounces or 240 mL) of the plant-based milk into a small or medium saucepan. Add the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cacao powder, maple syrup, and molasses. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally to incorporate the cacao powder and spices into the milk.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 120 mL) of the plant-based milk with the arrowroot powder in a bowl until no clumps remain.
  • Once the hot chocolate is at a rapid simmer, pour the arrowroot slurry into the hot chocolate, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens, just 30-45 seconds. If you double the recipe, it will take a bit longer for the hot chocolate to thicken. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Notes

* I like to use oat milk or carton coconut milk, but any plant-based milk will work
** Feel free to start with less maple syrup and then add a bit more at the end after tasting.
*** If you can’t find arrowroot powder, you can substitute cornstarch. Cornstarch will take a little longer to thicken, closer to 1-2 minutes.

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8 comments on Healthy Vegan Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

  1. Jenn

    5 stars
    We got 7 inches of snow overnight here in Ohio and turned back to this recipe for ultimate coziness.

  2. Nancy

    I was very excited to try this recipe. My kids keep rolling their eyes every time I introduce a new vegan drink. I never bought blackstrap molasses before and almost gave up hope until I found it at my fruit store. My kids were not impressed, ginger and blackstrap molasses might be a required taste. The ginger was quite strong. I think next time I’ll put less ginger and a little more cinnamon to balance out the flavours. I did add extra maple syrup. My husband loved it. I think this beverage has possibilities with a little tweaking for fussy children.

    1. Nisha

      Hi Nancy, yes blackstrap molasses is quite bitter, and children’s tastebuds are especially sensitive to bitter! I love it, especially since it’s packed with calcium/iron, but for kids, I would omit it and just use maple syrup. Glad your hubby enjoyed it!

  3. Sigrid

    I come to this recipe again and again any time I want a delicious treat. I want to give it five stars, but I don’t see anywhere to rate it..

  4. lara

    i turn to this every time it gets cold(er) and enjoy it so much. i actually use a mix of just water and oat milk. it’s also tasty without the blackstrap molasses and/or gingerbread flavourings ;)

  5. Alice Wistar

    I love this recipe! I use half the amount of maple syrup and just boil the oat milk mixture for 3-4 minutes to let it thicken up without the actual arrowroot powder (since I didn’t have any on hand). Absolutely delicious! Makes me feel very fancy and decadent…

  6. Sigrid

    I used oat milk the last time and it turned out delicious! I prefer that over almond milk.

  7. Kendal

    Just made this and forgot to save half the milk for the arrowroot so I ended up adding more milk to it. Didn’t realize how fast it makes the drink so thick! Will probably use a smaller amount of that secret ingredient, unless you have a good tip that I can use. Very tasty, bitter and heavy, but it’s something I’m going to have to play around with the recipe with to make it just right for my liking.

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