The Step That Makes Alton Brown's 'Reloaded' Hot Chocolate Unique

The world can credit the Mayan civilization for the introduction of the warm, delicious beverage that is hot chocolate. According to The Spruce Eats, the Mayans of modern day Mexico were drinking a concoction made of ground up cocoa seeds, water, cornmeal, and chili peppers as early as 500 BC. Before drinking, they would pour it from one vessel into another to produce a thick foam on top. But it wasn't sweet. In fact, it was quite bitter, which was not overlooked by the Mayans who gave the drink the name "xocolatl," meaning "bitter water," per History Daily.

In the 1500s, per The Spruce Eats, Spanish explorers to Mesoamerica brought the recipe back to Spain, added sugar, and removed the chilies in an effort to make the drink more palatable. As it spread throughout Europe and eventually America, hot chocolate took on many styles and preparation methods. Today, hot chocolate can be made with a packet of pre-made mix and hot water, with chocolate shavings mixed with warm milk, or even through the trendy hot chocolate bombs. There are even chocolate discs that create spicy "Mexican hot chocolate" and cafes that specialize in thick, indulgent European hot chocolate. And that's not all.

Leave it to mad food scientist Alton Brown to create yet another version of this tasty treat.

The difference is in the milk

On his show, "Good Eats: Reloaded," chef and author Alton Brown takes some of his most popular recipes and re-vamps them, per Food Network. Why? Probably because he can and he's really good at this kind of stuff. To start, his modern hot chocolate recipe is technically a hot cocoa which, contrary to popular belief, is not the same as hot chocolateMasterClass explains that hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. In the pre-made packets, powdered milk is often included, giving the drink its creaminess. Meanwhile, hot chocolate involves melting solid chocolate into warm milk or water. 

Brown's hot cocoa recipe combines nonfat dry milk powder, powdered sugar, Dutch-process cocoa powder, cornstarch, salt, and an optional pinch of cayenne pepper, no doubt paying homage to those early cups of chocolate.

What sets Brown's method apart is that he first toasts the milk powder in the oven until it's toasty-brown. After it's cooled, it is combined with the other ingredients and mixed. The recipe makes quite a lot — enough for 22 servings. For each serving, Brown mixes a quarter of a cup of cocoa mix into three quarters of a cup of boiling water. He also doesn't oppose adding some bourbon, per his Twitter page. He says that toasting the powder is optional, but by completing this step, you'll be treated to flavors like buttery toffee and malt along with that classic dark chocolate goodness.

Brow doesn't forget the piece de resistance either: He offers a recipe for homemade marshmallows to go on top.