The BEST hot chocolate in the world - Learn how to make traditional Italian hot chocolate at home with just 5 ingredients and 10 minutes!
Hot chocolate, drinking chocolate, hot cocoa or simply “cioccolata calda” as we call it in Italy, is the most incredible comfort drink you can have to beat the cold weather.
Smooth, thick and creamy, Italian hot chocolate is the best hot choc you’ll ever try.
It has nothing to do with the watery, sad version often served at bars and cafeterias around the world.
I'm a big hot choc aficionado, and I've tasted (and tested) in many countries such as Japan, France, Germany and UK, but not once I had something as close as the decadent Italian version.
The best hot chocolate I've ever had is served at Caffè Rivoire, right in front of the famous Piazza Della Signoria in Florence, Italy.
If you happen to be in the neighbourhood, make sure not to miss it.
But if you can't fly to Florence, don’t worry, you can make it at home in just 10 minutes.
Ingredients & method
All you need to make Italian style hot chocolate is 5 simple and easy ingredients:
- fresh milk ( feel free to use whole or semi-skimmed milk)
- high-quality cocoa powder ( I like to use the Madagascar variety)
- 70% high-quality organic dark chocolate
- cornflour (make sure it's labelled gluten-free if you have dietary restrictions)
The recipe couldn't be easier and requires only simple kitchen tools.
Start by whisking cornflour, cocoa and sugar in a small pot, then pour the warm milk into the pot.
Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking often to avoid lumps. Bring the mixture almost to a light boil, then reduce the heat to low and fold in the chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips).
Whisk the drinking chocolate until the melted chocolate combines with the other ingredients, and it reaches a creamy and dense texture, adding more sugar if you like it sweeter.
What's the best chocolate to use?
To bring out the amazing chocolate aroma use the best dark chocolate you can find.
There are lots of good brands out there, just remember that good chocolate should be made only with cocoa mass, cocoa butter and sugar (some add vanilla too).
You can also use milk chocolate if you like (again, go for high-quality chocolate), but note that it will give you a sweeter result.
The Secret For Thick Italian Hot Chocolate
Cornflour is the secret ingredient that makes it so thick and rich.
Don't worry about the flavour, corn starch goes completely undetectable over your palate, but it will give you that amazing thick texture.
Also, corn starch is naturally gluten-free, but if you have any dietary restrictions, please make sure you buy cornflour that is labelled gluten-free.
Toppings & add-ons
Once you have mastered the basic version, add a little twist and include one of the following add-ons:
- a pinch of salt ( sea salt flakes is even better!)
- a splash of pure vanilla extract
- a drop of your favourite liquor (Baileys, Rum, Grand Marnier all work amazingly well)
- a pinch of cinnamon
Some favourite toppings include:
- whipped cream
- extra cocoa powder
- mini marshmallows
- a drizzle of salted caramel sauce or dulce de leche
- crushed toasted hazelnuts
Vegan Hot Chocolate
If you wonder if it's possible to make creamy, rich and dairy-free hot cocoa, yes, it's totally possible!
To make a vegan version, replace the warm milk with hot water and follow the same recipe.
Skip the whipped cream, or replace it with whipped coconut cream for a super indulgent treat.
More Chocolate Recipes You'll Love:
Did you make this recipe?
Please let me know how you liked it! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #thepetitecook! Looking at your pictures always makes me smile *and super hungry*!
The Best Italian Hot Chocolate
- 4 tsp sugar (20 g)
- 4 tsp cornstarch (20 g)
- 5 tsp high-quality organic cocoa powder (25 g)
- 500 ml fresh whole (or semi-skimmed) milk, warmed (17.5 fl oz)
- 120 gr 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped (4oz)
- 2 tbsp fresh whipped cream (optional)
- Whisk the cornstarch, cocoa and sugar in a small pot.
- Pour the warm milk into the pot.
- Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking often to avoid lumps.
- Bring the hot chocolate mixture almost to a light boil, then reduce the heat to low and fold in the chopped dark chocolate.
- Whisk the hot chocolate until creamy and dense, adding more sugar if you like it sweeter.
- Divide the Italian hot chocolate among two cups, top with whipped cream and serve.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Originally published in November 2015 and updated with more helpful info.