Learn how to make the BEST Italian hot chocolate at home! Ready in just 10 minutes and only 5 ingredients required.
If you have never tried smooth, creamy and thick Italian hot chocolate before, then you are definitely missing out.
Whether you call it hot chocolate, drinking chocolate, hot cocoa or simply cioccolata calda as we call it in Italy, this is the most incredible and comforting drink you can have to beat the cold weather.
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.
Just 5 Ingredients
All you need to make Italian style cioccolata calda 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, but any unsweetened cocoa powder will work.
- 70% high-quality organic dark chocolate: the quality of the chocolate is critical to the final result, so get the best one you can find.
- sugar: my go-to is old classic white sugar for this recipe.
- cornflour: Yes, I know it sounds weird, but you definitely need cornflour to make deliciously thick hot chocolate.
The SECRET Ingredient
You read it right, cornflour is the secret ingredient that makes this Italians tyle cioccolata calda so thick and creamy.
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.
What's the best chocolate to use?
To bring out the amazing chocolate aroma use the best dark chocolate chunks or chocolate chips 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.
Ok, Let's make some hot choc!
The recipe couldn't be easier and requires only super basic kitchen tools. I promise, once you have all the ingredients ready, it takes literally 10 minutes from nothing to an AMAZING mug of thick and creamy hot choc.
Step 1. Prep dry ingredients first, then add milk.
- Start by whisking cornflour, cocoa and sugar in a small pot, then pour the warm milk into the pot.
Step 2. Warm the mixture, add chocolate.
- 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).
Step 3. Whisk and let the magic happen.
- 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.
- Divide it among two cups, top with freshly whipped double cream and serve.
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
What to top it with?
Some favourite toppings include:
- whipped cream
- extra cocoa powder
- mini marshmallows
- a drizzle of salted caramel sauce or dulce de leche
- crushed toasted hazelnuts
Can I make it vegan?
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 double cream, or replace it with whipped coconut cream for a super indulgent treat.
More Italian Chocolate Recipes You'll Love:
- Italian Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
- The EASIEST Vegan Chocolate Muffins
- 2-Ingredient Nutella Cake
- Magic Italian Water Cake
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*!
Best Italian Hot Chocolate
- 5 tsp high-quality organic cocoa powder (20 g)
- 4 tsp cornstarch (20 g)
- 4 tsp sugar (25 g)
- 500 ml fresh whole 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.