Ask The Protein Powder Chef: How Do I Make A Healthy Cup Of Hot Cocoa?

Why wait for winter? A cup of steaming hot chocolate can be the perfect topper to a cool fall day. Indulge in a protein-packed version of the original with this healthier alternative.

Hi Protein Chef! Summer's coming to a close, and I'm looking to stock up on healthy fall treats. I'm a sucker for a steaming cup of hot cocoa, but I know it's packed with sugar and fat. Are there any healthy, protein-heavy alternatives?

A few years ago, I went on vacation to the north of Italy. It was winter, and it was cold. Everything was blanketed in snow—cars, buildings, everything. It was there, in the midst of that beautiful winter wonderland, that I fell in love with cioccolata calda.

Cioccolata calda literally means "hot chocolate" in Italian, but it's wildly different from the hot chocolate that you and I probably grew up accustomed to. Cioccolata calda is thick. It's rich. It's dark. It's delicious. And, man, it's intense!

So, when I got a request for a high-protein hot chocolate recipe, I couldn't help but draw my inspiration from Italy's cioccolata.

The result is crazy. It's crazy because it's luscious, sugarless, low carb, and, at the same time, jam-packed with protein POW! It feels indulgent, but guess what? It's far from it. It's protein wizardry at its best. Here's the recipe.

Protein Hot Chocolate

  1. In a pot, add together the milk, whey, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, and peanut butter.
  2. Heat it all up at medium heat while whisking.
  3. Take it off the heat as soon as it gets hot but not boiling hot—think warm enough to touch. If you wait any longer and the mixture boils, the whey will start to curdle.
  4. Top it with some protein whipped cream. This is obviously optional, but it adds a great texture to the drink and gives you a hidden pocket of delicious creaminess to look forward to. The added protein alone is worth giving it a shot.
  5. To make protein whipped cream: Whisk some quark or low-fat ricotta with 1/4 cup of vanilla whey protein powder and 2-3 tbsp of milk. Place the mixture in a piping bag and pipe it on the hot chocolate.
  6. Destroy with gusto!
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 2 servings
Per Cup (without whipped cream)
Amount per serving
Calories 216
Total Fat 7g
Total Carbs 14g
Protein 24g

Protein Hot Cocoa PDF (27 KB)


Be careful with the xanthan gum. The stuff is crazy powerful. If you use too much, whatever you make turns extremely gummy and gains a kind of unpalatable "toothpastiness." Xanthan is an awesome thickening agent, but just remember that a little goes a long way.

Don't forget to check out Anna's new cookbook, Protein Pow(d)er: The Cookbook at the store! Get your copy now.

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