There’s hot chocolate, and then there’s Italian hot chocolate.
The first time you taste an Italian hot chocolate, or cioccolata calda, you will be amazed by its dense, creamy texture and its deep, rich chocolate flavor. Far from the watery, pale hot chocolate of many parts of the world, the Italian version is rich, velvety and creamy. It’s the Maserati to our Chevrolet. The Ferragamo to our Eddie Bauer. The Caffe Illy to our Folgers.
It all starts with high quality ingredients – real dark chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar, whole milk. A touch of cornstarch renders it thick and creamy. The version below is intentionally light on sugar, to let the deep chocolate flavors resonate. With a dollop of whipped cream, we think it is perfect. But if you prefer it more sweet, add up to double the sugar. You can also add a dash or two of cinnamon, or red hot chili powder for heat. For an adult version of cioccolata calda, try it with a shot of dark rum.
It’s a perfect treat to make for your loved ones, on Valentine’s Day or any other day.
for two mugs
50 g (approx. 2 oz or 4 Tbsp) dark chocolate*
25 g (approx. 1 oz or 2 Tbsp) unsweetened cocoa powder
25 g (approx. 1 oz or 2 Tbsp) sugar**
10 g (approx. 1/3 oz or 2 1/4 tsp) cornstarch
500g (2 cups) whole milk
*We used Ghirardelli Intense Dark Midnight Reverie, with 86% Cacao. Any dark chocolate of your choice will work, however.
**Add up to 50 g (2 oz. or 4 Tbsp) of sugar for a sweeter beverage.
Unwrap the dark chocolate and place it into a food processor. Pulse the chocolate repeatedly until it is finely ground. Set aside.
Add all of the dry ingredients to a small mixing bowl and stir together. Warm half of the milk in the microwave. Add the warm milk one tablespoon at a time to the cocoa-sugar-cornstarch mixture, stirring well so as to prevent lumps from forming. Slowly incorporate all of the warmed milk into the dry ingredients.
Pour the remaining milk into a saucepan and place it on the stove over medium heat. Add the milk and cocoa mixture, and then the ground dark chocolate. Stir continuously with a wire whisk until it thickens and boils. Let it boil for 1 minute, and then remove from heat.
Serve hot with a dollop of whipped cream.
Download a pdf copy of Cioccolata calda