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.

French Hot Chocolate. Classic dark European-style hot chocolateInstant 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.

French Hot Chocolate. An easy recipe for dark hot chocolate that tastes just like the kind served in Paris cafes.

French Hot Chocolate made with real dark chocolateI 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.

The best French Hot Chocolate. Dark hot chocolate recipe that tastes as good as in France!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! 

French Hot Chocolate with Whipped CreamI 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.

French Hot Chocolate Recipe. The best dark hot chocolate recipe!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.

5 / 5 (7 Reviews)
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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


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

Recipe based off of Cafe Angelina’s Le chocolat chaud à l’ancienne dit “l’Africain,” as interpreted by several sources, including Tastebook and Cooking by the Book.

// All images and text ©/Well Plated.

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

More warm drinks for cozy afternoons:

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…


  1. This look devilishly decadent, Erin! I love real hot chocolate like this. It is such a treat. Perfect to enjoy while relaxing after Christmas. Hope you had a wonderful day!

  2. OMG! I am drooling at that rich chocolatey goodness! You’re right, it’s the perfect thing to enjoy during the rest of the season!

  3. I have bookmarked this. Will never forget the hot chocolate I had at Angelina’s in Paris. This sounds perfect.

  4. I love this Erin especially after spending a few weeks in Paris this summer myself! Any little memory is a good one. This looks delicious!

  5. Stacey @ Bake Eat Repeat Reply

    That looks like absolutely decadent hot chocolate! Wow! You just added more reasons to my list for why I need to go to France someday! :)

  6. Wow. I thought I was jaded about the hot chocolate here, but now I see this and I just want it. Such an amazing (and really, the best) way to do this beverage!

  7. I’d carry truffles in my wallet if I weren’t afraid they’d get smashed when I sat down. GREG

  8. Talk about decadence! I must indulge….but in a few days after the effects of the Christmas goodies wear off, lol.

  9. Hey !! I’d just like to had a little something, the truth behind Angelina’s flawless hot cocoa. You need to bring the saucepan to boil, take it off the heat to whisk it, and repeat this 5 to 10 times (10 if you are really brave) and this is what give the characteristic texture of this hot chocolat, like a chocolat cream !!

  10. This looks soo delicious and decadent! I’d love me a cup of this french hot chocolate right now. :) I hope you had a great holiday!

  11. It’s so thick, it almost looks like pudding!! Delicious :)

  12. Oh my, Erin! This speaks to my heart (or perhaps stomach?)! Will make this tonight! Can’t wait.
    Oh, and as I plan my trip to Paris next year, I will make sure to visit Cafe Angelina. Until then, I will enjoy this! Thank you for sharing!

  13. Gosh, this looks glorious! I love my Swiss Miss cocoa, but this hot chocolate is a different level treat. I recently made a hot chocolate recipe that was terribly sweet. I think this would be much more up my alley!

  14. Oh man how could I say no to this?! It looks so thick and awesome! Pinned! :)

  15. This looks so rich and delicious Erin, just the way I like my hot chocolate!

  16. From a calorie standpoint, this would do me in. However, I may have to make this, since I love really dark chocolate.

  17. Wow this looks amazing!! So decadent and rich! I love that you added espresso!

  18. This is so perfectly suited to the leftover ingredients I have hanging out in the fridge and pantry just now. I know what I’m having with breakfast in the morning.


  19. I definitely feel like hot chocolate should be creamy and decadent!
    Those mugs of slightly brown liquid never do it for me, I need indulgence!

    {Teffy’s Perks} X

  20. Oh my word, this is so rich and wonderful!!!

  21. I gotta be honest here. Ho hum hot chocolate. DANG, Girl. I had to pin this.
    You are sooooo right. What did I know? Zip obviously. What a marvelous
    drink. You got me! And I love being ‘got’.

  22. This looks so easy + delicious + pretty! Love the evolution of it.

  23. Oh my goodness, that looks like heaven in a cup. I don’t have purse chocolate, but I do have desk/office chocolate :)

  24. I love Chez Angelina, too. Will have to try this recipe. :)

  25. Hot damn!!! Now THIS is hot cocoa!! BTW Love the espresso powder addition. Happy almost New Year friend!

  26. I lost a purse to a stashed dark chocolate bar that melted out of its wrapper once and had to give up that wonderful habit :) This looks amazing!

  27. After seeing this post, hot chocolate is ALL I am craving. Pinned!

  28. You completely read my mind! I always bring dark chocolate everywhere, especially on vacations. I don’t know if the places I’m going will have it readily available in grocery stores, so I always need to be prepared! ;) But somehow, I still haven’t tried true French hot chocolate. That definitely needs to change! Pinned!

  29. Gorgeous, as always, I can make your French Hot Chocolate. Thanks Erin Clarke for sharing

  30. This looks AMAZING!! Your photographs are so pretty! Thanks for linking to my Hot Toddy recipe, so sweet of you! I saw you on the list for Eat Write Retreat, we will have to meet in person! Have a Happy New Year :)

  31. oh my god!! this looks awesome.. i love the experience you’ve share here. you have inspired me to make this.. i am thinking of adding some cinnamon and mixed spices in it..what do say?

  32. Just made this – so decadent and delicious. Thank you so much for the recipe. I used Green & Black’s 70% and it was great!

  33. This is liquid ganache! YUM! Can’t wait to try it!

  34. Tried this recipe..REALLY good. I didn’t add the whipped cream though. I did try another batch with Ghirardelli milk choc chips..just as good, and no probs with melting.

  35. Can’t wait to try this. I am obsessed with Angelina’s hot chocolate. I have a friend who is a flight attendant and when he is in Paris he brings me back a bag. Doesn’t happen often enough. Now I can feed my craving any time!

  36. This looks decadent! Also, where did you get those mugs? They are adorable.

  37. This looks simply divine!  

  38. I have been waiting to try this for a couple of weeks and am finally sitting here enjoying it. I used 100% Ghirardelli. The flavor is unlike anything I have ever tried. Very, very rich and delightful. Made my night! Thank you.

  39. OMG I died when I saw this! I’m hoping this will be the answer to some prayers I’ve had. Over Christmas I visited a Ghiradelli shop and got a cup of hot chocolate and haven’t been able to settled for anything else since. I thought that seemed like a thick, creamy bar of chocolate with a teaspoon of milk… I can’t wait to try your recipe!

  40. Wow, this looks so decadent and absolutely delicious! I’m salivating unattractively over the keyboard!

  41. Oh yeah! Found you Hot Choc via pinterest and you are so right. Parisian Hot Chocolate is so different to others. Ok here in germany we’ll get simply the same thik chocolate and I absolutely adore it. But Angelina and Laduree add a bit of water and cook the chocolate until its a viscid texture :)

    Lovely Inspo :)
    Love, Patricia

  42. Oh wow! Found this via pinterest and will be trying it for sure as soon as I have been to the city a purchased some quality chocolate! Where did you get the gorgeous cups too? I love to have the ‘right’ cup for all my drinks. Hubby laughs because I have a particular cup for my morning tea, another for my coffee and yet another for my night time tea! It just doesn’t taste quite right if it isn’t in the correct cup! And as for those cheap ‘builders’ mugs…won’t have a single one in the house haha! Like drinking from a bucket! Am I a cup snob? lol!

    • Rona, I feel the same way about having just the right cup—it makes the whole drink more enjoyable! The mugs were actually a gift from a friend, but I’ve seen similar sets from World Market. So glad you found the recipe and hope you love it!

  43. MERCI for posting this! I studied abroad in Italy, and one week there was a big chocolate festival in my little city. I ordered a cup of cioccolata calda on my way to class on a chilly morning and couldn’t have been more smitten. I’ve been looking for a good recipe ever since… this looks just perfect! Why don’t people make this in America?! 

  44. edgardo fabillar Reply

    this recipe is very good when i go home i make this for my family thanks a lot…..i love chocolte……

  45. This looks decadently delicious, reminds me of when I travelled to Switzerland and tasted chocolate (felt like it was for the first time). Haven’t found anything so amazingly soft and delicious since.

    Enough of my own stories, I’m admin for a Facebook page called Chasseur AUNZ. We would love to share your image and link it back here of course. If you’d rather we don’t just drop me an email. – S

    • Sam, I bet the chocolate in Switzerland was incredible! And yes, I’d love for you to share a link to this post, thank you! As long as the recipe isn’t reprinted, it’s fine for you to use an image (with a direct link to the post). Thanks for asking and for your kind words too!

  46. Wow! Thank you for posting this! I will try this recipe. Is it possible to have a thick consistency without adding heavy cream? 

    • Hi Jen! I’m afraid not. While decadent, heavy cream is one of those things where there really isn’t a direct substitute, especially since the recipe has so few ingredients. You could use all milk or even half and half, and the hot chocolate will still taste lovely, but it will never be as thick and rich. It’s definitely a special indulgence (but soooo good !)

  47. Hey Erin! Made then French Hot Chocolate recently and it was really delicious. It didn’t have the thickness like it did in your picture. Was wondering if you have any tips how to get it to look that way

    • Ozzie, I’m not sure why this would be. Did you use whole milk and heavy cream as called for in the recipe, along with the full amount of chocolate? If you used a lower fat dairy, such as skim milk or half-and-half, that would definitely affect the texture, as would less chocolate. Otherwise, I photographed the recipe exactly as it was written here. Regardless, I’m glad it was delicious, which is definitely the most important thing!

  48. Awesome tips Erin! Thanks for sharing!

  49. I’ve tried this three times and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong!

    • Jenna can you let me know what didn’t work out?  I can then help you troubleshoot.  It may be that you are heating the cream up too much, perhaps?  Also, using good-quality chocolate is really important  so that it melts nicely and has the best possible taste. 

  50. Like ozzie above, it cam out tasting very good but nothing like the thickness in your picture? How fast am I to whisk? I’ve been heating up the cream until I see the small bubbles on the edges and I used guittard 61%. But it’s still very liquidy and the chocolate seperates like with swiss miss.

    • That helps to know! 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 it. It still should be plenty thick and rich though. Are you sure that you’re using a full 8 ounces of chocolate? Standard baking bars are usually 4 ounces. if you want it even thicker, you can always add more too :-) In terms of the separation, this is likely because the cream is a bit too hot when you’re adding the chocolate. Try letting it cool a bit more, melt in half of the chocolate, then add the rest of the chocolate and let the residual heat melt it the rest of the way. I hope that helps! I’m glad to hear it still tastes delicious :-)

  51. Thank you soo much for this. Am in Nairobi ,in bed with my hot chocolate and it’s raining.bliss!

  52. I am a chocoholic and this hot chocolate looks incredible! I can’t wait to try it, thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I have a feeling that it is going to become a go to this winter. ;)

    Leighton Michele

  53. This looks delicious and reminds me of a trip to Mexico City where we had a similar hot chocolate and churros! = D Totally saving this for a later date! 

  54. Looking at this recipe and thinking it would be a great gift for Christmas among my homemade cookies and candies. How long do you think this would save in the fridge for?

    • Hi Drea! To be honest with you, this isn’t really designed to be reheated, but I think it could work. Try cooling it to room temperature, putting it in an airtight container such as a mason jar, then refrigerating it. It will become somewhat solid in the fridge (and needs to stay refrigerated). Your recipients could reheat it gently on the stove. Hope you (and they!) enjoy it :)

  55. Oh my goodness this hot chocolate is amazing!!  I now love our Polar Express hot chocolate family movie night because I’ve found this decadent treasure!!!  So yummy and you’re right about only needing a little!! Thank you!

  56. I just made this following this recipe and even though I’m a hardcore chocolate lover I couldn’t finish a small cup. This is way too rich for me. Tried to dilute with milk after having some but it turned out to be a flop. It was worth a try though so thanks for sharing! 

    • Hi Alex! This chocolate is definitely the very definition of decadent. Thinning it out with milk slowly over medium/low heat would be the best bet to tame its richness, so I’m sorry/surprised that didn’t work. Although I would have loved for you to have enjoyed this recipe more, I’m glad you were at least happy to have tried it!

  57. i’m savoring a cup of this hot chocolate on an overcast day and making noises that can’t be captured in print. i used scharffen berger 70% chocolate and it tastes perfect. i’ve never been to france, but i’ll put that cafe on my bucket list! thanks for recreating this!

  58. Wow, looks very delicious and your photo is so great! :D

    I will try the recipe later, thanks. :)

  59. Looking at this recipe ,thanks.

  60. Would 55% cacao work if I reduced/left out the sugar? 

    • Hi Jane! The taste will not be as intensely chocolatey with a lesser % dark chocolate, because it will have less cocoa over. That said, if you like a more milk chocolate flavor, I’m sure you would still love the hot chocolate made this way. I would do less sugar as you mentioned, add your chocolate, then taste and add more sugar as desired.

  61. I had the same “chocolate” experience last year in Italy! Have been looking for a similar recipe ever since. I think this will do the trick! Merci or Grazie!

  62. Most ladylike looking cup of coffee in existence. I bet it tastes like class as well. Thank you, miss! :)

  63. ohhh. Angelina’s is simply marvelous! gonna have to make this for sure – thanks!

  64. Is it possible to substitute baking chocolate or 100% cocoa powder for the chocolate?

    • Hi Ella, I wouldn’t recommend cocoa powder. And I hesitate to recommend baking chocolate (especially unsweetened) because it could be too bitter, but you could experiment by adding more powdered sugar to taste if you’d like!

  65. Would you think halving this recipe would work? I’d like to make some list for me and 1 mug full would be sufficient?

  66. I just drove the adults crazy as a kid with the said miss. For one cup of chocolate I’d fill have way with water and most of the box of packets to make it thick and run off with all the marshmallows. My aunt drove me crazy as a fan of what I (still) call “muddy water” that’s a Styrofoam cup one of the big ones filled with hot water and ONE package… it’s literally boiling hot water with a hint of chocolate and dust. Now I have proof of my superior chocolate sensibilities. Justice! XD

    Rating: 5
    • That’s an excellent childhood story, Oriana! The packets definitely can’t compare to this type of hot chocolate! :)

  67. Hi Erin Clarke

    Have a beautiful day.
    French Hot Chocolate is straightforward recipes, but truly delicious, I will try it. Thanks a lot

    Rating: 5
  68. Looks delicious! I will make it this weekend :)

    Rating: 5
  69. Just finished my first batch. Used 70% Ghirardelli. To be honest, it’s a bit sharp. May use closer to 60% next time. However, real rich, luxurious texture. Love it. 

    Rating: 4
    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the hot chocolate, Erin! Thanks for reporting back—I hope you enjoy it even more next time you give it a try!

  70. Ah this looks so delicious and the mugs are so cute!

    Rating: 5
  71. Looks so delicious, I so want to make it for dinner

    Rating: 5
  72. I had Angelina’s hot chocolate while visiting Versailles a couple weeks ago, and it was so perfect on a rainy autumn day. I’ve been missing France, so I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  73. This was so delicious! And easy to make.

    Rating: 5
    • Cheyenne, thanks so much for taking the time to leave this awesome review! I’m so glad you enjoyed the hot chocolate. :)

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