European inspired drinking chocolate upgrades traditional hot chocolate. Perfect for dipping and sipping, indulge this holiday season.
What is Drinking Chocolate?
Drinking chocolate is a thick and rich dessert, often paired with cookies or biscotti for dipping. It is so thick that it can be eaten with a spoon, and coats the side of the cup if you tip it. Often, drinking chocolate is made with full fat chocolate, and uses heavy cream, half and half, or whole milk. The chocolate is the star of the show here, and it the main ingredient. It is essentially a cup of melted chocolate, thinned out with milk or cream, and flavored to your liking. Usually, additional sugar is not added, so this is a great dessert option for those looking to cut back on sweeteners. This can result in a much less overpoweringly sweet flavor, as the sweetness of the chocolate dictates the sweetness of the drink. In comparison, hot chocolate is made with milk or water and melted chocolate, and hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder. Check out this website for more info on the history of drinking chocolate.
Why Make Drinking Chocolate?
If you are consistently disappointed by powdered hot chocolate packets that taste more like chocolate milk than anything special, give this a try. I have been to 14 countries, and tried hot chocolate in almost all of them. This recipe is the closest I’ve had since being abroad to the real thing. It is worth every calorie, and the rich consistently means that you can be satisfied with a smaller portion. This is a treat that is perfect to make in large batches for a party, or as a dinnertime dessert. It is also a much healthier option in comparison to store bought mixes filled with preservatives, oils, and added sugar.
Step 1: Measure Out Your Ingredients
For this recipe, we are using two parts dairy or dairy substitute to one part chocolate. For one large or two small servings, this is approximately 2 ounces of chocolate and 4 ounces of dairy, or 1/4 cup of chopped chocolate and a half cup of liquid. I also add an 1/8 tsp each of salt and vanilla, along with any other additional flavorings. If you would like to make a peppermint hot chocolate, try adding an 1/8 tsp of peppermint extract (NOT essential oil). More suggestions are listed below for various add ins and toppings. If you have a very bitter chocolate, more than 60%, a teaspoon of powdered sugar, maple syrup, or even honey works great stirred in at the end. Remember to taste as you go!
Step 2: Warm Dairy or a Substitute
Add your creamy element to a pot, and heat over low heat. DON’T allow it to boil or it will scald the milk, and the chocolate will loose it’s beautiful sheen when added. I like using heavy cream or half and half, but coconut cream works great as a substitute. If you want the “low calorie” version, you can use whole milk.
Step 3: Melt in The Chocolate
When small bubbles begin to slowly form at the sides of the pot, stir in the chocolate. This takes a while, but be patient! It will thicken even more as it cools. Remember to use a high quality chocolate, and taste afterwards to see if it needs sweetening.
Step 4: Flavor to Your Liking
Now is the time to make your drinking chocolate extra special. I always add vanilla and salt to mine, no matter what other flavors I decide to embellish with. On top of that, caramel, peppermint extract, orange extract, or spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are a delicious addition. Get creative with your flavorings. Anything that you would find in a chocolate bar would be equally as delicious here. Just be sure that whatever you add does well when warmed up, and doesn’t make the consistency grainy or lumpy. I recommend tasting as you go. If you used a very bitter dark chocolate, it would be acceptable to add a bit of sweetener to taste. Pure maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, or powdered sugar are great options here. Remember, if you are adding sweet toppings like marshmallows, it may be unnecessary to add a sweetener at this step.
Step 5: Dip and Sip
The fun of drinking chocolate is that it is thick enough to dip things in. I love dipping in cookies, biscotti, fruit, and even crackers. Try something with a crispy texture to compliment the creaminess of the chocolate. The outcome of this French drink is something akin to chocolate fondue, but even better. I also enjoy swirling a candy cane or peppermint stick in the drinking chocolate to give it a holiday flare. You could do the same with a cinnamon stick. I always add some marshmallows on top of my hot chocolate, and whip cream, meringue, or marshmallow fluff would also work great (unless you are trying to cut back on sugar). Regardless of what you put on top, this drinking chocolate is delicious!
What Would You Put in Your Drinking Chocolate?
Leave a comment below sharing your favorite ways to flavor and savor a cup of delicious drinking chocolate. Let me know if you would like to see more holiday recipes! Check out my post here for free fall activities, and enjoy a cup of drinking chocolate while you try them out!
- 1/4 cup Roughly Chopped Chocolate (High Quality Bar Form, NOT Chips)*
- 1/2 cup Heavy Cream, Half and Half, Whole Milk, or Dairy Substitute like Coconut Cream
- 1/8 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- Optional Flavorings To Taste
- Measure Out Your Ingredients: Two parts dairy or dairy substitute to one part chocolate. For one large or two small servings, this is approximately 2 ounces of chocolate and 4 ounces of dairy, or 1/4 cup of chopped chocolate and a 1/2 cup of liquid.
- Warm Dairy or Substitute: Add your creamy element to a pot, and heat over low heat. DON’T allow it to boil or it will scald the milk, and the chocolate will loose it’s beautiful sheen when added.
- Melt in The Chocolate: When small bubbles begin to slowly form at the sides of the pot, stir in the chocolate. This takes a while, but be patient! It will thicken even more as it cools. Remember to use a high quality chocolate, and taste afterwards to see if it needs sweetening.
- Flavor to Your Liking: Add an 1/8 tsp each of salt and vanilla, along with any other additional flavorings. Now is the time to sweeten with powdered sugar, maple syrup, or your favorite sugar substitute if needed. Suggestions for fun flavorings in full blog post.
- Dip and Sip: Top with marshmallows, candy canes, or whatever suits your fancy. Dip cookies or fruit for a fun and delicious twist on fondue. More suggestions in full blog post.
* Chocolate Chips have a coating that prevents them from melting and sticking together in the bag. It will also prevent them from melting into a creamy hot chocolate.
This can be made ahead in large batches and served at a party kept warm. Extra can be refrigerated and warmed later. Throw away after 5 days.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1-2
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 350-700