French Hot Chocolate
Do you carry dark chocolate in your purse in case of emergencies? Is your hand rooting through your stash of holiday truffles as you read this? If yes, I made this French Hot Chocolate just for you. Also, we are kindred spirits.
Instant packets of Swiss Miss hot chocolate were a fixture in our home growing up and eventually followed me to college, where I “cooked” steaming mugs for friends by boiling the water in my fire hazard of a hotpot. While those instant packets still hold a nostalgic place in my heart, it wasn’t until I visited Paris that I understood the true meaning of the words hot chocolate—emphasis on the chocolate, please.
French hot chocolate is not for the casual chocolate-dabbler, the chocolate shy, or anyone with an aversion to heavy cream. It’s deep, dark, and utterly magnificent. I will never forget my first sip. I was 16 and in Europe for the first time, visiting my Uncle R.D. He took me to the celebrated Café Angelina in Paris, famous world wide for its decadent hot chocolate. My chocolate-loving heart never quite recovered, and I’ve been love struck since.
I ordered Cafe Angelina’s le chocolat chaud, expecting something similar to the Swiss Miss packets of my youth. Oh my, I could not have been more mistaken. What arrived was not a milky brown, mildly chocolaty broth but a thick, gloriously rich mug of steaming chocolate velvet. It was bittersweet and so thick, I suspected the chef had simply melted a bar of the finest quality Parisian chocolate directly into my mug.
Anticipating my American surprise at the French hot chocolate’s thickness, our server set a banquet-scale bowl of fluffy whipped cream beside my mug, apparently to “thin” the hot chocolate to a more sippable consistency. Si vous insistez!
I miss and think of France—where I eventually went on to study abroad and returned for a month this summer—often, but some days are more nostalgic than others. I was having such a particularly sentimental afternoon on a chilly day last week, and since I didn’t think it appropriate to fix myself an entire batch of Slow Cooker Spiced Wine, a mug of steaming French hot chocolate proved to be the perfect remedy to take me back to Paris.
I searched the web for Café Angelina’s hot chocolate recipe, and I must say, I think today’s version is pretty darn close. It certainly has the richness and consistency of Angelina’s chocolat chaud, though I remember Angelina’s being even more intensely chocolate flavored, to the extent that it almost wasn’t sweet (a second reason to add plenty of whipped cream). I think American chocolate in general is sweeter than many of its European counterparts, so to balance it out, I added a touch of instant espresso powder to the recipe. If you prefer a sweeter hot chocolate, feel free to omit it.
This French hot chocolate recipe will yield two aggressively-sized mugs for two voracious chocolate lovers or two smaller mugs for a group of three or four. It is undeniably rich, so I find a little cup can satiate my deepest chocolate needs, particularly when used for dunking with one’s husband’s private stash of crispy peanut butter cookies when he’s not home.
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and are enjoying a little extra time with friends and family today. To me, French hot chocolate is the perfect treat to extend the holiday festivities. Yes, it’s decadent, but it’s cozy too. The holidays aren’t really over yet, a happy fact we should toast with the deepest, darkest of hot chocolate recipes.
La vie est belle.
French Hot Chocolate
The most decadent dark hot chocolate recipe that tastes just like the French hot chocolate found in Paris cafes. Intense, rich, and absolute heaven for any chocolate lover. Recipe based off of the famous Cafe Angelina in Paris.
Yield: 2 large, intense cups of hot chocolate or 4 more reasonably-sized cups
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 8 minutes
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional, but delicious. Will intensify chocolate flavor)
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, at least 70%, chopped*
- Giant bowl of whipped cream, for serving
- In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together the whole milk, heavy cream, powdered sugar, and espresso powder until small bubbles appear around edges. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
- Remove from saucepan from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until melted, returning the sauce to low heat if needed for the chocolate to melt completely. Serve warm, topped with lots of whipped cream
*Choose the best quality chocolate you can, as the flavor really carries the drink. I love Guittard for a splurge, Ghirardelli or Godiva, but the Trader Joe's Pound Plus 72% dark bar is quite good too. I do not recommend chocolate chips, as they contain stabilizers and do not melt as well.
Leftover French hot chocolate can be cooled to room temperature, then refrigerated in an airtight container (empty mason or jam jars work particularly well). Reheat gently the in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat.
More warm drinks for cozy afternoons: