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Do you carry dark chocolate in your purse in case of emergencies? Do you fall for the chocolate that’s placed so dangerously beside the register every time you check out at Trader Joe’s? Is your hand rooting through your top desk drawer for a piece as you read this? If yes, I made this French Hot Chocolate just for you. Also, we are kindred spirits.

2 mugs of French Hot Chocolate. Classic dark European-style hot chocolate, garnished with whipped cream and shaved chocolate

Packets of store-bought hot chocolate mix were a fixture in our home growing up and eventually followed me to college, where I “cooked” steaming mugs for friends by boiling water in my fire hazard of a hotpot.

It didn’t matter which hot chocolate brands I tried. My hot chocolate attempts always ended the same way: me, poking at stubborn lumps of sugary cocoa floating on top of milky water, attempting to get the mix to dissolve smoothly. If you’ve used a hot chocolate powder, you know the struggle.

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.

Forget the powders, the mixes, the annoying little clumps.

What we have in our mugs today is something else entirely. This is a thick drinking chocolate recipe that will make you feel as if you have been transported to a French café!

What Is French Hot Chocolate?

French hot chocolate is not for the casual chocolate dabbler, the chocolate shy, or anyone with an aversion to heavy cream. It’s made with rich, dark European chocolate. This hot chocolate recipe is for true chocolate lovers! It’s rich and creamy and will transport your taste buds to a French bistro.

French hot chocolate is 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 lovestruck since.

chopped dark chocolate

I ordered Cafe Angelina’s le chocolat chaud, expecting something similar to the hot chocolate packets of my youth. Oh my, I could not have been more mistaken. What arrived was not a milky brown, mildly chocolatey 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.
After developing this recipe, I’m reasonably certain he did.

bistro mugs of the best French Hot Chocolate

I miss and think of France—where I eventually went on to study abroad and later returned for a month—often, but some days are more nostalgic than others. I was having a particularly sentimental afternoon on a chilly day, 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.

French Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream

I searched the web for Café Angelina’s hot chocolate recipe, combined what I read with my own memories of it, and I must say, I think this French hot chocolate recipe is pretty darn close.

My search for how to make the perfect European hot chocolate recipe lead me down some interesting Wiki rabbit holes as well. Here’s what I learned:

How to Make Real Hot Chocolate

  • You must use real, good-quality chocolate bars. Homemade hot chocolate recipes contain very few ingredients, and the largest ingredient is chocolate, so be picky.
    Use dark or bittersweet chocolate. Milk chocolate will be too sweet, at least for most European tastebuds.
  •  ^^That said, this is YOUR hot chocolate. If you prefer sweet and want to go with milk, I say, cheers!
  • I have the most success with a blend of whole milk and cream. Some recipes call for almost entirely cream, but that was a bit much for me. I recommend a blend of the two.
  • Do not use water. This might be OK for a packet mix in a pinch, but we are in the business of REAL hot chocolate today, and real hot chocolate needs milk.
  • Need dairy-free hot chocolate? I recommend full-fat coconut milk for a similar experience. I haven’t tried this recipe with dairy-free chocolate bars yet, so I’m afraid I can’t say how that would work out. (But if you do try, I’d love to hear how it goes!)

How to Thicken Hot Chocolate

  • This one is easy. WITH MORE CHOCOLATE. This recipe will feel like you are using a ridiculous amount of chopped chocolate, but trust me and go with it. You will not be sorry.

How Hot Chocolate Was Invented + A Brief French Hot Chocolate History

Not directly related, but I stumbled upon it and found it interesting, so here you go! This is a super abbreviated version, but hopefully it gives you an idea.

  • As early as 500 BC, Mayans in Mexico were drinking chocolate made from ground-up cocoa seeds mixed with water, cornmeal, and chili peppers. It was cold, bitter, and very different from the French hot chocolate we are making today.
    In the early 1500s, the Spanish explorer Cortez brought cocoa beans and chocolate drink-making gear to Europe, where it was adopted by the Spanish upper class. (Yep. It was Spanish hot chocolate before it was French hot chocolate.)
  • People started to like drinking chocolate better when served hot, sweetened, and without the chili peppers.
    In the early 1600s, Louis XIII’s wife brings hot chocolate to France, where it eventually became quite the hit at Versailles. The kings and queens were INTO IT. Can you blame them?
  • Enter: Industrial Revolution. The drink becomes more accessible and chocolate more affordable. Hot chocolate for all!
  • A 16-year-old girl goes to Paris. She falls in love with le chocolat chaud (<—French hot chocolate translation). Years later, she posts a French hot chocolate recipe on an American food blog.

And here we are today.

This French hot chocolate recipe 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 situation the restaurant resolved by serving its hot chocolate with a giant pot of sweetened whipped cream to stir into it.

I find that 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 my version of the recipe. If you prefer a sweeter hot chocolate, feel free to omit it.

overhead image of French Hot Chocolate garnished with whipped cream and grated dark chocolate

This French hot chocolate recipe will yield two aggressively sized mugs of the deepest, darkest drinking chocolate for two voracious chocolate lovers or smaller mugs for a group of three or four.

For a larger batch, check out my Crockpot Hot Chocolate.

If you are looking for a single serving of hot chocolate my 2-Ingredient Hot Chocolate hits the spot or for something on the lighter side, try this Healthy Hot Chocolate.

But for the darkest drinking chocolate in all its luscious, unabashed, truffle-like glory, this French Hot Chocolate has no equal.


French Hot Chocolate

4.78 from 62 votes
The most decadent dark hot chocolate recipe that tastes just like the French hot chocolate found in Paris cafés. Intense, rich, and absolute heaven for any chocolate lover. Recipe based off of the famous Café Angelina in Paris.

Prep: 3 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 8 minutes

Servings: 2 large, intense cups or 4 smaller ones



  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the whole milk, heavy cream, powdered sugar, and espresso powder until small bubbles appear around the edges. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
  • Remove from saucepan from the 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% 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.


Serving: 1(of 4), without additional whipped creamCalories: 290kcalCarbohydrates: 22gProtein: 7gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 75mgFiber: 3gSugar: 17g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

Learn more about Erin

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  1. I saw this recipe, and it reminded me of my aunt making home made hot chocolate back home when I was a child! I made it a couple of weeks ago…all I can say is, that it’s a keeper! Simply delicious!5 stars

  2. Hi Erin, for an even more intense chocolate flavour, have you tried adding some Dutch processed cocoa powder to the mix you have suggested?

    1. Hi Rev! I’ve only tested the recipe as written so it would be hard to advise. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

    1. Hi Jen! I’ve only tested this with espresso powder so can’t advise on how much of an espresso shot to put into this. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  3. While it tasted delicious, my final product was not as thick and glossy as the photos. It did look quite like the final product in the pot, before the cut tin the video just before ladling4 stars

    1. Hi Mary, In terms the thickness, the hot chocolate definitely thickens as it cools, and it wasn’t piping hot when I took the picture, so that is part of what you are seeing. It still should be plenty thick and rich though.

  4. Had European hot chocolate at San Francisco and been craving it since. It’s too far to go for just hot chocolate so I started searching and came to this recipe. Gotta say this came really close. Thank you for sharing! For my personal taste, next time I’ll adjust the milk to be a bit less (maybe half of what’s here) and heat up the mixture a bit more.5 stars

  5. Five stars just for the post content! Hilarious and right on the nose for chocolate lovers! I made a variation using a half recipe, 3.4oz 100% cacao (2 Lindt bars), 40g Milk chocolate (Lindt), seeds of one vanilla bean, brown sugar, 1/8 tsp espresso powder, and 2% milk (and a little extra heavy cream). Delicious!!5 stars

  6. Hi Erin – your recipe sounds fabulous. I wonder if it can be turned into a mix as a gift? Any thoughts on grinding up the chocolate and adding it to the espresso powder and powdered sugar and then packaging that in dry form? Or is melting the chocolate after the milk comes off the stove a key step? Thanks for your insights! Lou
    ps – your sweet potato and brussels sprout recipe is still our all time fav. :)

    1. Hi Lou! While that sounds like it could work, I just haven’t tried it myself. The way I’ve tested it, is how I can guarantee the results. Hope that makes sense! If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

    1. Hi Lauren, I haven’t tried this myself. It’s rather thick and a little different than your typical hot chocolate. If you decide to give it a try, I’d love to know how it goes!

  7. Divine! 🥰 it’s snowing today and this was a perfect pick me up. My 5 year needed all the whip cream to get through but my 6 year old was completely into the deep rich flavor.5 stars

  8. Excellent sipping chocolate! Thank you for the recipe! My daughter and I are enjoying it right now by the Christmas Tree while watching It’s a Wonderful Life! Perfect!5 stars

  9. Thank you for the education Erin, and the yummy recipe.
    The simplicity and flavor of the drinking chocolate was exactly what is was seeking. Sure it takes a wee bit of time to make. The recipe is not billed at being a convenient on-the-go instant mix. This is where, in my quest, the education came in and one can start to see the bloggers who are just getting content out there and those who are teaching.
    In all this I’ve learned there are two types of hot chocolate/cocoa beverages. Maybe it stood out for all your readers, but it took me awhile to catch on. I think I read too fast and miss stuff
    HOT CHOCOLATE: chocolate bar & milk.
    HOT COCOA: cocoa powder, milk powder, sugar
    Per consumer’s taste, add ins can make the final recipe cut.
    *espresso powder
    *type of milk to use
    *cayenne pepper
    Since my quest was to eliminate the chemicals of those instant hot cocoa packets, I now have my own homemade “instant” hot cocoa mix that includes whole organic powdered milk and Dutch process cocoa that I just add hot water to for a fast cup. Plus from your site I have the luxurious real stuff, the French Hot Chocolate. Made one or two cups at a time. On the cook top or with a French Press (about a minuet’s worth of plunging produces some frothiness). Such indulgent pleasures. Slows life down some. All is well.
    Please keep researching, exploring and teaching us the why’s behind the food. Great work Erin!!

  10. Ooh this was amazing! We recently came back from a trip to Paris and I was regretting not getting drinking chocolate so I looked up recipe and came across this one- I’ve used your recipe twice so far and it’s been a hit both times. I saw a previous comment ask about adding cocoa powder, and I did add about a tablespoon of guittard red Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Also added some vanilla extract and a tiny bit of salt (since I was adding that to my whipped cream already) and it was delicious, both hot and cold (deliciously thick) the day after. Thank you for the recipe so we can enjoy this drinking chocolate at home :)5 stars

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