Is there anything better than a mug of hot chocolate on a chilly winter day? How about pairing your favorite type of hot cocoa with the perfect snack! Chocolate is a special (some might say magical) ingredient that pairs well with many flavor profiles, making hot cocoa the perfect compliment to a wide variety of snacks.
Whether you prefer quick-mix, creamy, spiced, or European-style hot cocoa, there’s no denying that hot chocolate is a classic wintertime beverage. This winter season, curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and a tasty Japanese snack to make the perfect pairing.
Quick-Mix Hot Chocolate
Quick-mix hot chocolate is super accessible and easy. Simply boil water or warm some milk, add your cocoa packet, and it’s done. Instant hot cocoa! If you’re looking for a homemade alternative, you can make your own quick-mix with powdered milk, cocoa powder, sugar, and a pinch of salt.
Light, salty snacks—like popcorn, chips, and roasted nuts—complement the sweetness of this kind of hot chocolate. If you’d prefer a savory snack with your hot cocoa, there are plenty of Japanese snack options to fit the bill.
Featuring a flavor combination unique to Japan, Mike Popcorn: Butter Soy Sauce Flavor is a light, savory snack that would pair well. For another salty snack, there’s Pure Potato Chips: Sesame Oil + Salt, which are packed with umami flavor. Or, reach for a bag of Kameda no Kakinotane Rice Cracker Mix and you’ll find crispy, crunchy, soy sauce-flavored rice crackers and peanuts.
Creamy Hot Chocolate
Creamy hot cocoa typically has more milk, cream, and/or half and half—depending on your recipe—compared to conventional hot chocolate. In this less chocolatey hot cocoa option, you might want a slightly sweeter snack to draw out the cocoa flavor.
Coffee, caramel, and nuts are all amazing compliments to chocolate. If you’re looking for coffee flavors, there’s Natural Yeast Bread: Coffee. This fluffy, chewy bread is just sweet enough with a hint of coffee at the end. An Aomori Apple Caramel Yakkoi Sable Cookie is soft, sweet, and a great pairing to a creamy hot cocoa thanks to its apple-caramel butter center.
When it comes to pairing creamy hot cocoa with a nutty sweet, you can’t go wrong with almonds. If you like baked goods, a light Golden Financier Cake made with almond flour and brown butter is a great option. For a dip-able treat, a Zeitaku Almond Milk Pocky pairs well with creamy hot cocoa—and makes a great stirrer!
Spiced Hot Chocolate
Spiced hot chocolate is a perfect example of sweet heat. Typically seasoned with cayenne, chili and/or chipotle powder, this hot cocoa will definitely help you feel cozy.
Contrast the sweetness of a spiced hot chocolate with a slightly salty Onigiri Senbei: Ginshari. This crunchy senbei is savory but simple, meaning it won’t clash with the spice of this hot cocoa while satisfying that need for a sweet and savory pairing.
If you want to focus on the sweet or spicy side of this beverage, you have options. For even more heat, go for Kabukiage Rice Crackers: Uma Kara Spicy. These crackers are savory with a nice, spicy kick. To highlight the chocolatey side of spiced hot cocoa, go for a light sweet like Picola Chocolate. The interior of these crispy wafer straws are coated with milk chocolate.
European-Style Hot Chocolate
European-style hot chocolate is thick, rich, and creamy. Tart, candied fruits and savory, nutty flavors can make an interesting match to this decadence type of hot cocoa.
If you like citrus, the refreshing zing of a chewy, tart Candied Yuzu Peel could be the perfect match to a European-style hot chocolate. Chocolate and strawberry is another perfect pair. A smooth yet crunchy White Strawberry is the right balance of tart and sweet while being light enough not to clash with this rich beverage.
If you’d prefer to go the savory route, we’d suggest something nutty. A crunchy Black Sesame Taiko: Kumamon Design made with almonds, black sesame, and mizuame is a fine choice. Similarly, a near-savory, shortbread-like Black Sesame Cookie will also satisfy.
Not matter your preferred type of hot chocolate, you can elevate your sipping experience with the perfect snack. Chocolate pairs well with sweet and nutty flavors as well as tart and spicy ones. Make your perfect hot cocoa snack pairing with a sweet or savory Japanese treat.