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.


mugs of French Hot Chocolate

French Hot Chocolate

4.89 from 36 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 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 8 mins

Servings: 2 large, intense cups or 4 smaller ones


  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder optional, but delicious for intensifying chocolate flavor
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate at least 70%, chopped*
  • Giant bowl of whipped cream for serving


  • 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!

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  1. I love Angelina’s! When in Paris, I have a cup every day. It’s such a treat. Thank you for this recipe can’t wait to try it. BUT … where did you get those absolutely perfect cups and saucers? I need them. :-)

    1. It is such a delicious treat, Kimberlee! Unfortunately, the cups were a gift from many years ago, so I’m not sure where they’re from. I hope you love this recipe if you try it!

    2. They were from a company called Kiss That Frog and were available on Amazon. They’re now sold out and unavailable. Occasionally I see them on ebay at outrageous prices.

  2. Simply fantastic. Recommend using more chocolate, and increase the cream to milk percentage to 50/50.

    Because this is such a rich drink, recommend suggesting serving from an espresso cup. A nice serving touch would be to have small finger cups of shaved chocolate, cinnamon, crushed candy cane, large granular sugar, etc., to tweak to the taster’s choice.5 stars

    1. Thanks for sharing this kind review and your suggestions, Rick! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed it!

    1. Hi Nina! Unfortunately, I don’t have the information for this recipe in grams. You should be able to find some charts online that will help you convert the ingredient amounts into grams. I hope this helps!

  3. Can’t wait to try this! A couple questions:

    1. Would using a double boiler instead of a plain saucepan make it easier?
    2. Is there any way to add coffee to the recipe for a mocha?

    1. Hi Laina! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so you’d be experimenting. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  4. Been wanting to try and make this but I was wondering if 2% Milk would be fine instead of whole milk? We normally don’t drink whole milk!

    1. Hi Gursimran! I haven’t tried the recipe that way myself, but another reader has reported success with it. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

  5. Hi!
    Regarding “drinking” chocolate, do you think (or have used)Half & Half? I know your proportions of milk and cream aren’t equal, but thought this might work. And how might it effect the “richness” of the drink.

    Thanks so much,

    1. Hi Mark! You could use half and half, and the hot chocolate will still taste lovely, but it definitely won’t be as thick and rich. I hope this helps!

  6. This is spot on to the cocoa we had in France during Christmas time when we used to live in Europe! My husband loves this type of cocoa, and he was excited to try, and drink your recipe (twice!). So much so, we bought a bunch of chocolate as gifts with your recipe included so our family can enjoy it too. Thank you!5 stars

  7. Hi, Erin! I am really excited to try this recipe. I am wondering how many ounces your cute cups hold. Is it a 4 oz cappuccino cup? My daughter has been searching for the perfect cup of cocoa. She like a rich chocolate taste that is not overly sweet. I think this may fit the bill. I’ll let you know how she rates it. Thank you.

    1. Hi Len! While I can’t say for certain, I *believe* they’re 12-ounce cups. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

  8. After going to Angelina’s I got hooked on this real hot chocolate recipe. Now, I make it every winter and my family has ordered me to make a triple batch to tide us over until the next time I make it. I can’t drink anything else since having tried this hot chocolate!!!5 stars

  9. Wonderful silky chocolate taste. I added corn starch to thicken it for a church dinner. I imagine someone will most likely drink it while others will pour it over their ice cream. Thank you for sharing your recipe.5 stars

  10. So glad I found this recipe so I could try out French hot chocolate from home! It’s definitely a sipper and the kind of rich drink that you have when you want chocolate to become part of your soul. Literally drinking liquid chocolate.5 stars

  11. While walking thru a small totally off the tourist track village in Italy, in an off the track province, we had some hot chocolate. Yes, it took me a lot of searching to recreate it, but this recipe is spot on. Oh my god, it was glorious and out of the meals I’ve had in Europe (granted, I was traveling low budget), this hot chocolate stands out, 15 years later.
    While in France I developed the habit of adding chestnut spread to my hot chocolate. Unhappily, it is virtually impossible to find in the US, particularly without glucose syrup. If you have some though, try it, you won’t be disappointed.5 stars

        1. Hi Emma! It definitely could have a more bitter taste since it’s such a high percentage. Did you enjoy the taste of the chocolate before using it in the hot chocolate?

  12. Last night on a typical “California” evening of bliss, I somehow found my way to your brain-child recipe. I became fixated on treating myself to a different style of mid-day snack. Normally, we’re talking a 200 calorie small handful of nuts, or some form of salty chip. I refuse to count the calories in 1/4 of your recipe. There is no turning back, calories be damned. I’ve just luxuriated, sipping your French Hot Chocolate while doing a Sudoku puzzle, and all feels right in the world. Normally I only say this in the evening :). Sincere thanks Erin, for doing the legwork of creating this.5 stars

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