Raw cacao hot chocolate {dairy-free, refined-sugar-free}

hot chocolate in a glass and a milk frother

I’m addicted to hot chocolate. Utterly, totally, have-to-get-my-fix-of-it-at-least-twice-a-day addicted. At home, I make vegan hot chocolate using a dairy-free drinking chocolate powder such as Cadbury’s or whatever’s cheapest in the supermarket (most non-instant hot chocolate is vegan, unlike the instant hot chocolate such as Options, which contains milk), and plant milk such as almond, soya or coconut. When I’m out, if they have non-dairy milk – yay! If not, I must confess I do drink hot chocolate with moo juice if that’s all they have (I know, I should be stronger, or go somewhere else – especially as there are plenty of places near me that do vegan hot chocolate, and even a place that serves raw cacao hot chocolate). 

Cadbury’s sugar content v raw cacao

One day, I wondered how much sugar hot chocolate powder such as Cadbury’s had compared to raw cacao. Fuck me, there’s a BIG difference – a BIG difference of Cadbury’s having 73g per 100g and raw cacao having 0.5g. 0.5g is practically nothing. In fact, it probably counts as nothing. You can also see in the photo below how much more fibre and protein raw cacao has compared to Cadbury’s. (I’m aware I’m banging on about Cadbury’s here, but that’s what I’ve been drinking and that’s what I’ve got in my cupboard to compare to raw cacao. I would imagine other drinking chocolates are much the same.)

Nutritional information Cadbury's v raw cacao
Nutritional information of Cadbury’s drinking chocolate v raw cacao

Just because it’s sugar-free though, that doesn’t mean it has no calories. Calorie-wise, there’s not a lot of difference between Cadbury’s and raw cacao, and raw cacao has almost twice as much fat than Cadbury’s (7.5g of saturated fat per 100g compared to 4.1g) so, if you’re on a fat-free diet, you should probably give it a swerve. 

raw cacao hot chocolate in a glass
I only put it in a poncey glass for the photo

I, however, am not on a fat-free diet, so I attempted once again to make a vegan raw cacao hot chocolate that would give me my hot chocolate fix. I say ‘again’, as I tried replacing Cadbury’s with cacao in a sugar-dodging phase a short while ago in a bid to improve my sleep and, although I found it passable, it didn’t quite hit the spot. 

As my hot chocolate addiction worsened and threatened to spiral out of control (drama queen much?), I thought I’d better try again and, although adding a sweetener – natural or otherwise – means it’s no longer a sugar-free hot chocolate, raw cacao on its own is quite bitter and, for me, it needs something to sweeten it and, as far as I’m concerned, refined-sugar-free is better than not sugar-free at all, eh?

Of course, if you’re not arsed in the slightest about sugar-free, whether that’s refined sugar or natural sugar, but you do like the idea of a more natural hot chocolate, there’s nothing to stop you adding a teaspoon or two of your favourite flavour syrup (I like vanilla. And hazelnut. And praline. And salted caramel. Okay, I like all of them.)

Three-ingredient raw cacao hot chocolate

maple syrup, almond milk, raw cacao

This vegan hot chocolate is the easiest homemade hot chocolate in the world, ever! It only contains three ingredients – maple syrup, your choice of milk and raw cacao (I currently use this one). For maximum hippy level, you can make your own almond milk or cashew milk. For even more maximum hippy level, you could even squeeze your own maple syrup. I have no idea how you do that though. It might involve going to Canada and hugging a maple tree or something, but I don’t recommend that as it’s a bit parky in Canada at the mo.

What makes it even easier is that it’s made in the microwave, which makes it quick and washing-up-free. You can make it on the hob if you don’t have a microwave – just warm the milk first in a saucepan, then whisk in the cacao and maple syrup to taste. My ratio is 1:1 raw cacao to maple syrup but you can tweak it to your own personal preference. If you’re too tight or skint to splash out on maple syrup, you can use agave nectar or any other sweetener of your choice.

When making it in the microwave, it’s easy to heat for too long and then spend the rest of the day cleaning your hot-chocolate-spattered microwave, so heat it up for 90 seconds at first, give it a stir, then if you need to heat it up some more, give it another 10 or 20 seconds and check again.

hot chocolate in a glass and a milk frother

One thing I will say is, make sure you dissolve all the cacao properly. Eating lumps of raw cacao floating about in your hot chocolate is not pleasant. What I do is, after spooning the cacao into the mug, I pour a little milk in, then whisk it up with a milk frother (this one has a cow print on it – mine doesn’t but I really want one with a cow print on it now) before adding the rest of the milk.


raw cacao hot chocolate in a glass

Raw Cacao Hot Chocolate

Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 2 minutes
Course Drinks
Servings 1


  • microwave
  • milk frother


  • 2 tsp raw cacao
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or other sweetener
  • 250 ml dairy-free milk (almond, oat, cashew, coconut, soya, etc.)


  • Spoon the raw cacao into a cup or mug
  • Add a bit of the milk and stir or whisk thoroughly until there are no lumps
  • Stir in the rest of the milk
  • Microwave on full power for 90 seconds. Microwave in ten second increments until it's at a temperature to your liking.
  • Add more maple syrup if it's not sweet enough.
Keyword dairy-free, easy, healthy, raw cacao, refined sugar-free, sugar-free
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