Rich, Dark Hot Cocoa (Dairy and Refined Sugar Free)

I’ve had a sudden fixation on dark chocolate. Long time readers here will know that I’ve always loved chocolate but I’ve been going weeks on end without having chocolate. Well, no longer. To satisfy my chocolate tooth, I started turning to hot cocoa. This version is dark, creamy, and delicious. I find it a perfect treat to have mid-afternoon (or an almost mid-night snack, which we did last night). And it’s pretty guilt free too, sweetened with a drizzle of maple syrup, full of the healthy fats from the coconut milk and unsweetened cocoa powder too.

Chocolate (without all of the yucky other ingredients added to it in most candy bars) is actually considered a very healthy food by many. Like cranberries, apples, onions, tea and red wine, chocolate is loaded with flavonoids. According to The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden
, the particular flaonoids called flavanols found in chocolate “prevent fatlike stubstances in the bloodstream from clogging the arteries. When you reduce the blood’s ability to clot, you also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.” The author also mentions that chocolate is high in magnesium (which, by the way, is why many crave chocolate when they are low in magnesium). I’ve also read of several studies connecting chocolate to a healthy blood pressure.

Because I use coconut milk, this is dairy free, though you could easily use whole milk instead. I’ve sweetened it with maple syrup, but honey would work too. I wanted to use a liquid sweetener because it would dissolve more easily, but use rapadura or coconut sugar if you are willing to do a little mixing. Feel free to use canned coconut milk too. Maybe half full fat coconut milk with an equal amount of water for a rich taste, or more water for a less rich taste.

Rich, Dark Hot Cocoa

See notes above for ingredient substitutions.

    2/3 cup of coconut milk powder (I used Wilderness Family Natural’s, see note below about the trace amounts of dairy it contains*)
    1/4 cup of full fat cocoa powder
    Scant 1/4 cup of maple syrup or honey
    4 cups of water
    1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

French Press Method: While water is being brought to a boil, add the coconut milk powder, cocoa powder and sweetener to the french press. Add the boiling water and with a gentle motion, use the press to help mix everything together (I use an up and down motion in the top half of the french press). Add the vanilla and serve.

Regular Method: Place the coconut milk powder, cocoa powder and sweetener in a four glass pyrex measuring cup. Add just enough boiling water to moisten this mixture and whisk to form a smooth paste. Add more water to a bit over the four cup mark. Add the vanilla and serve.

*I’ve labeled this recipe vegan and dairy free, but do note that there are trace amounts of milk in the coconut milk powder. To be completely vegan and dairy free, use canned coconut milk.

The following two tabs change content below.
I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

Latest posts by KimiHarris (see all)


  1. says

    Mmmm! This sounds like a liquid Mounds candy bar since it’s made with coconut milk. Great idea!
    Interesting that chocolate cravings may stem from magnesium deficiency. Do you know which foods are especially magnesium rich? It would be interesting to try adding these to one’s diet to see if chocolate cravings are reduced.

    • KimiHarris says

      No, that would be too weak. For creamy coconut milk, use half coconut milk, half water. Or you can make a lighter version with one can of coconut water with about 3 to 4 cups of water.

  2. says

    I love your blog! As a health care provider, I am finding that many people think something is sugar free if it is free of table or white sugar. The above recipe is not sugar free. It has sugar. Maple syrup is a form of sugar. I think we need to be careful how we categorize sugar and carbs. Honey is also a sugar. Many people are labeling recipes sugar free when they are not. I understand there isn’t any white or table sugar, but this will cause a rise in blood sugar for those who have diabetes, and it can feed candida or cancer.

    • KimiHarris says

      I should have clarified that it was “refined sugar free”. 🙂 Thankfully, I think that most people understand that many things cause blood sugar rises (like potatoes and maple syrup).

    • Aaron says

      Sorry but being a health care provider doesn’t give you a pass on false information either.

      There is no connection between maple syrup and honey and Candida /cancer:

      As a matter of fact:

      Real Doctors (you can look it up)
      have used maple syrup & baking soda to remove cancer and other harmful and toxic substances from your body. Do your research on it. Maple syrup is high in nutrients, antioxidants, minerals & vitamins.

      Honey is a super food containing all nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc. AND
      is a natural antibiotic & antiseptic.

      You can research what ailments your body can cure itself from with the use of honey combined with cinnamon.

      So both are useful for our bodies.
      On a side note it is impossible to get fat from eating too many apples and apples have “sugar” in it as well)

      The problem with refined sugar is that it is void of nutrients and your body has to take nutrients from other sources just to process it.

      So this is a really healthy drink and you could probably add a few marshmallows and the nutrients in the drink will be more than enough to cover a few bad refined sugar calories from the marshmallows.

      • Charlie says

        “The problem with refined sugar is that it is void of nutrients and your body has to take nutrients from other sources just to process it. ”

        Source? The only resource needed to process refined sugar (primarily dextrose, is the insulin needed to permit cells to process it into usable energy. The dextrose is split into simple sugars by gut bacteria and then absorbed into the bloodstream.

  3. Christy says


    I have been enjoying your site so much. The recipes are wonderful and I can’t wait to try them.

    I have been blindly trying to eat more organic meals since September, but am not a very good cook without a recipe. Your site is going to help me out a lot.

    I have come across a situation that I am unsure as what to do about. I know you are busy, but if you find any time would you mind responding to me.

    I am staying away from the refined sugars and I am a diabetic. In February the youth group is going on their winter advance. I am a leader and need to go with them. That creates a problem since they will not be eating anything healthy the entire weekend. We are going to be staying at a camp ground and the meals will be prepared for us. I would like to take as much with me as possible, so I do not totally fall off the wagon. If I could take something for every meal that would be great, but I don’t think that is possible. We will be there Friday night and coming home on Sunday. That is quite a few meals to try and take food for.

    If you could give me any ideas on what I can take with me that would be great. My plans right now are going to be to take coconut bread, muffins and pancakes. I need ideas for lunch and dinner though. I am going to look more closely at your recipe index to see what else I can find that would not require me to reheat and not have to be refrigerated.

    Thank you for all the hard work you have put into your site. It has been a saving grace.


    • says

      Hi Christy. My husband works at a conference/retreat center and sometimes they get special dietary requests (diabetic or vegetarian, for example) and try to acommodate (sp). Our kitchen plans a menu in advance and sometimes has a salad bar, and I’m sure if you called ahead, they would at least give you the menus for the weekend so you can know if there will be anything you can eat. Hope it goes well!

    • KimiHarris says

      I had a similar situation with a camping trip. I brought homemade meat “pasties” (ground beef with turnips in a pastry dough, cooked), and brought a cooler to keep them cool. I am not very picky, but I thought that they were pretty good cold. All types of salads are good to because they don’t have to be eaten hot. If you were able to reheat anything, bringing a big mason jar full of soup or stew with some muffins on the side would be sure nice too! Raw cheese, high quality meat with crackers is another meal idea.

      Those are just a few ideas. Anyone else have some good ideas?

      • sharon says

        Nut butters– peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter would be great to take for lunches. Spread on apples, bananas, celery sticks. I eat this sort of lunch a lot.

        Nuts! Great portable snack.

        Hard-boiled eggs– these could work for breakfast, lunch options. I like the idea of packing a cooler to keep your perishable items in. I don’t know where you live, but it might be cold enough outdoors to preserve your food.

        Lara Bars–these come in a variety of flavors and are very portable. Or, make your own power bars.

        Lentils–they’re great warm or cold. It would be a good lunch or dinner option.

        Pasta salad w/cheese, crumbled bacon, canned salmon veggies, etc… for dinner.

        Good luck and have fun!

        Canned salmon

    • Rachael says


      I understand your concerns and as a Youth Pastor myself I am constantly heading away for weekends of junk food. Over the past three years I have really learned what works well for me and what to skip! First off if you are eating at a camp ground or other facility that serves a large number of people call them ahead of time and discuss your dietary concerns. I have had great luck talking to the chef ahead of time and have been able to bring my own sprouted bread for sandwiches, raw milk (although I don’t mention it is raw, just needed for my diet), and many other things that they stored for me in their kitchen and at different places even cooked for me (with precise directions). A diabetic diet should be one that people are familiar with accommodating. Most camps serve scrambled eggs in the morning which is something I loaded up on (even though they aren’t pastured I knew I needed something good to keep me going through out the day). A lot of times the facility will have a salad bar for dinner (not organic, but on these types of weekends I am shooting for best possibilities). Ask the kitchen staff ahead of time what is on the menu and then work from there. This past weekend (for a Youth retreat and ski weekend) I packed a small-ish cooler with sprouted muffins (a couple types that I froze first so they would last longer), several types of crispy nuts, fresh clementines, apples, carrot sticks and blueberries (I pack my own fruit and sometimes veggies because camps tend to only serve canned varieties), raw cheddar, butter (because camps often serve the fake stuff), some natural peanut butter, and a few slices of sprouted bread for PB sandwiches. Then I just ate the best I could with what was available. Just remember to have fun while you are there!

  4. says

    This looks so good, we are supposed to be getting snow in the next few days, I am going to make some cocoa and watch the snow! Thanks for the recipe.

  5. says

    Kimi, I was thinking exactly on this line – to make a hot chocolate mix with coconut milk, cocoa powder or carob powder and some sugar/honey for DD that she can add to milk herself.

  6. mom23 says

    I’ve been making this for my son for the past few weeks while he’s been skiing.
    I mix honey and cacao powder until it blends into a thick sauce, thinning it down with a few drops of hot water, then add coconut milk made from the “let’s do Organic” organic creamed coconut bars…it’s just plain creamed coconut that you add warm water to.
    There is an amazing flavor combination with coconut milk and dark cacao…LOVE IT!!!

  7. says

    Thanks for clarifying, but most people (patients) will tell me they aren’t consuming a lot of sugar because fruit, pasta, potatoes, dried fruits, etc aren’t thought of as sugar. Now many people are using agave thinking it is healthy when it is really glorified fructose syrup that is processed by the liver.

  8. says

    Hi Kimi, I always keep a small bottle of this in the fridge so the kids can make their own (small, small, small to monitor them.) I have been using the WFN raw cocoa since I bought a 5# bag of it but I’m not really happy with the taste. I know you research the heck out of things so I was wondering what kind of cocoa powder you’ve been using or recommend?

    • KimiHarris says

      Raw cocoa does have a lot more of a greeny taste, doesn’t it. I noticed in one recipe I was looking at recently, that they recommended using twice as much raw cocoa in recipes as regular cocoa to make up for the lack of depth of flavor. So you may want to try using more raw cocoa in recipes. I have a file some where on my computer of research on raw cocoa, but I need to find it again. I can’t remember all of what I read any more! I’ll let you know when I find it. 🙂

  9. Krissy says

    I just wanted to let you know that Wilderness Family Natuals powdered coconut milk is not dairy free. I wish it was!! Thanks for all the wonderful recipes you supply! I saw the comment above, I have been using the Wilderness Family Naturals raw cocoa powder and really like it.

  10. Kirkie May says

    I also tried this wonderful hot chocolate with coconut palm sugar (keeping with the coconut theme) and it was so very satisfying.
    I also agree about the raw cacao powder having a different flavor. Raw cacao beans have not been roasted so they are going to have a ‘greener’ flavor rather than the chocolaty flavor of roasted beans that we’re used to. Something to get used to.

  11. says

    Thanks for the post, and the reminder to make some hot chocolate today! My favorite thing to put in it (I use whole milk & cream if I have it) is coconut oil. I whisk the whole time I’m heating it, and the coconut oil makes it extra thick and yummy.

    • KimiHarris says

      Usually the container of cocoa powder will say something like “low fat or no fat” if it’s been defatted. I have been using several different brands lately, organic cocoa powder from a local company and I’ve also used Trader Joe’s (tastes good, and is super cheap, but unfortunately, I don’t think it’s free trade).

  12. says

    I have never even thought of using coconut milk for hot chocolate! I’m going to get on that right away! How funny, being that my favorite ice cream is Larry & Luna’s Coconut Bliss.

    CHRISTY-I had some ideas as I read your situation. If you have the time before you leave, you could prepare salads like greens with lots of veggies, or tabouli (which is quite filling AND super healthy) or bring hummus and pita. Pita is roughly 55 on the glycemic index, whereas corn chips are 70+! (If you can find pumpernickel bread, it is one of the lowest GI’s of breads… Fruits and cut up veggies would probably stay well unrefrigerated and go great with almond butter, too.

  13. says

    Thank you for posting this – I really enjoy hot chocolate and often will just use a little water, cocoa powder and sweetener … not very ‘creamy’, but it’s warm, tasty and satisfies the desire for a little chocolate. I’ll have to try the coconut powder some time; or maybe even add a little coconut oil for a creamy taste.

  14. Barbara Grant says

    Another great idea if you like coffee is to put cocoa powder, coconut milk, and maple syrup in it. I make a “coffee extract” using the recipe found in Janie Quinn’s “Essential Eating”. The basic recipe is to put one bag of coffee grounds in a gallon jar, fill with water, let sit for 3 days on the counter, strain through a coffee filter, put in jars. Refrigerate or freeze in ice cube trays. Use 2-4 tblsp. per cup, fill with boiling water. Makes the freshest, non-bitter cup of coffee and tastes great with coconut milk in it. As a note, I usually only make a half gallon of extract at a time, as I am the only coffee drinker in my house.

  15. Jennifer Cooper says

    Great warm drink. My first drink I was expecting traditional hot chocolate, so it didn’t taste quite right to me. But, the second sip was delicious and much better. Now we’ll see if it’s a go for the kids. Thanks.

    • KimiHarris says


      I have never been able to find a coconut milk powder that is 100 percent dairy free. I realized that my note at the bottom of the recipe saying that it had trace amounts of dairy in it was not obvious enough. Sorry about that! I have made it a little clearer now.

      By the way, the dairy in the coconut milk powder has never bothered me at all. So, even if you have a diary intolerance, you may tolerate this product just fine. 🙂 I also liked some of the other people’s suggestions to use creamed coconut. 🙂

  16. Katelyn says

    I LOVE chocolate–especially dark chocolate and I can’t wait to try this recipe! I love your website–the recipes are AMAZING! (especially this one!) Thanks!

  17. Katelyn says

    I LOVE chocolate–especially dark chocolate and I can’t wait to try this recipe! I love your website–the recipes are AMAZING! (especially this one!) Thanks!

  18. says

    Made this last night…it was so yummy! EXCEPT, I didn’t read all the instructions and used full coconut milk (not watered down) and into about half the cup, I had a tummy ache for the rest of the night! ha! So, I go to make it again right now the right way! (hoping it will help get me off coffee!) Thanks again! 🙂

  19. says

    GASP!!!! O my gracious! I am trying this tomorrow after I get my coconut powder at WF’s! I would try it tonite if I had the ingredients! FAbulous!

    Thankyou so much for posting it!

  20. says

    Oh my goodness. I have been wanting to try this since you posted it. I ordered some dried coconut powder from Azure specifically to mix up my own “hot cocoa mix.” I just tried it this morning and it is SO INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS! I had to post it on facebook as my most favorite beverage for pregnant ladies like myself! It satisfies that craving for something seemingly sinful while actually nourishing your body. Thanks!

  21. erzebet says

    Do you know of any recipe of dark chocolate bar? I used to make it out of butter, powdered milk, cocoa, dark sugar and water but I would like to remove the powdered milk out of the equation but with only butter it is too fatty – I love fat but this taste is too much for me – do you know of any such recipe?

  22. Cindy says

    This was SUPERB! I didn’t have the coconut milk poweder but did have Rice Milk powder so I used that instead. We were craving hot chocolate and are both on a no sugar/no dairy nutrition program. This hit the spot. Thanks!!!!!!

  23. Bryan Elliott says

    Came for “sugar free” recipe. Was disappointed. Not a fan of fructose-bearing syrups; fructose metabolism is terrible for you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *