Frank's Hot Chocolate

Frank’s Hot Chocolate

In beverage, Fall, Winter by Frank Fariello27 Comments

Is there anything quite so comforting, after a chilly day’s outing, as a cup of hot chocolate? It almost makes me look forward to the cold weather. But, if you ask me, most kinds you can find commercially, either entirely pre-made or from a mix, is either too thin or too bland or too sweet—or all of the above. So I’ve developed by own recipe that I’d like to share with you, one that produces a fine cup of thick, deep, intense ambrosia, which is just perfection topped with an ethereal layer of slightly sweetened whipped cream.

It’s actually incredibly easy to make—almost as easy as using a mix—but for a little extra effort you get a quantum leap forward in taste and texture. Made right with quality ingredients, I think this hot chocolate is as good as any you can buy at any price, and I’ve tasted the hot chocolate at some of the world most famous cafés: Angelina in Paris, in the coffee houses of Vienna, at Caffè Florian on St. Mark’s Square in Venice. Besides which, what can beat sipping some hot cocoa while you cozy up with a good book by your own roaring fire?

Ingredients

For each cup:

For the whipped cream:

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 Tb. caster or confectioner’s sugar
  • A few drops of vanilla or orange extract (optional)

Directions

Add the cocoa powder and sugar to a heavy pot. Whisk in just enough water to form a thick paste. Heat over a low flame, stirring stirring constantly. The paste will bubble gently and after a minute or two, it should darken in color as the sugar begins to caramelize.

Now add the milk, little by little, whisking vigorously so that the chocolate paste and milk are completely amalgamated. Let the mixture heat up, until it is just about to boil—but remove it from the heat just before it does. The liquid should be quite thick and very dark in color.

While the liquid is heating, whip the cream, sugar and (if using) extract in a standing mixer until stiff.

Pour the hot chocolate into a cup (or mug) then top with a generous dollop of whipped cream, and enjoy right away!

Notes

The secret of this great hot chocolate is to use lots of cocoa, at least 2 heaping Tablespoons per cupful of milk but more is even better, enough to thicken your hot chocolate, with just enough sugar to balance its bitterness without really sweetening it, and to caramelize the cocoa and sugar before adding the milk. The caramelization step is key: it gives the hot chocolate its special, deep flavor and color. And don’t bring your hot cocoa to a boil—it will give your mixture an ‘off’ boiled milk taste. And, anyway, hot chocolate should be hot, but not scalding. Otherwise, you’ll miss the wonderful flavors.

You can add the whipped cream of not, but I like it. This hot chocolate is so intense that you need something light and mild to balance out its intensity. A bit of vanilla or (for a change of pace) orange extract really brings the whole thing to another level.

For measuring, I like to use an actual cup (as pictured above) rather than a mug, even if true cups seem to be becoming a specialty item these days. A mug normally holds about 50% more, so adjust quantities accordingly if using one.

Of course, the cocoa you use will have a decisive effect on your results. The main thing is to avoid pre-sweetened cocoa, which is always too sweet and usually includes powdered milk as well. You can find unsweetened cocoa in almost any supermarket in the baking section. I am particularly fond of Dutch cocao powder, like Droste, which I find gives your the most intense and fragrant brew. In the US, the Scharffen Berger brand is also excellent. But even Hershey’s produced a “Dutched”cocoa and the San Francisco based Ghirardelli brand is not bad, either, although not quite as rich in flavor and it does not caramelize as well as Dutch cocoa.

And need I say that whole milk works best for hot chocolate? Yes, you can reduce fat and calories by using 2% or even skim milk but then, what’s the point? Splurge a little! It’s only a cup, after all…

Post scriptum: As it turns out, this is my 300th post. Where has the time gone?

Frank’s Hot Chocolate

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: One cup of hot cocoa

Frank’s Hot Chocolate

Ingredients

  • 2-4 heaping Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch
  • 1-2 Tablespoon(s) Demerara sugar
  • 1 cupful of whole milk
  • For the whipped cream:
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 Tb. caster or confectioner's sugar
  • A few drops of vanilla or orange extract (optional)

Directions

  1. Add the cocoa powder and sugar to a heavy pot. Whisk in just enough water to form a thick paste. Heat over a low flame, stirring stirring constantly. The paste will bubble gently and after a minute or two, it should darken in color as the sugar begins to caramelize.
  2. Now add the milk, little by little, whisking vigorously so that the chocolate paste and milk are completely amalgamated. Let the mixture heat up, until it is just about to boil—but remove it from the heat just before it does. The liquid should be quite thick and very dark in color.
  3. While the liquid is heating, whip the cream, sugar and (if using) extract in a standing mixer until stiff.
  4. Pour the hot chocolate into a cup (or mug) then top with a generous dollop of whipped cream, and enjoy right away!
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Comments

  1. Maja Is Cooking

    I'm not a hot chocolate drinker, but whenever I make it for my family I always use the best cocoa powder I can get and make it just like you do. This cup of hot chocolate makes me crave for cold winter evenings.

  2. Spicie Foodie

    Hot chocolate during the cool Autumn and frigid winter days is just the best. The only packaged hot chocolate I ever buy is Mexican chocolate. For all the reasons you stated homemade being the best. But as soon as mine runs out I'll be trying your recipe. Thanks Frank and Buon Natale!

  3. shirley

    Wow! I'm really obsessed about chocolate. I love eating and drinking different varieties of chocolate, so sweet! Your recipe looks so delicious..By the way, congrats on your 300th post! Keep up your great work!

  4. Frank

    @Laura: Thanks for your comment. I suspect that mixes in Italy are of a higher quality than those we find here in the US—but still, there's nothing like homemade!

    @Susan End: Yes, three are about my quote, too, LOL!

  5. Susan End

    I am so crazy about chocolate – no matter in what form, but hot chocolate is definitely the most irresistible drink, so I will try it asap, just I hope I will be able to stop drinking it after the … third cup for example!

  6. Laura @ Hip Pressure Cooking

    Ciao Franco, would love to see your home-made version of Hot Chocolate “cremosa come nel bar”.

    I have to get my thick hot chocolate from a packet because I can't guess the doses but the only ingredients are bitter chocolate powder, sugar and corn starch! Of course, you add it to steaming hot milk and it gets so thick you could almost stand a spoon in it. My husband's favorite is “gianduia” flavor – but I get the plain and add a drop of almond extract and sprinkle the top with hazelnut crumbs – since it's so thick, they don't sink to the bottom of the cup!!

    Ciao,

    L

  7. Frank

    @Lori Lynn: Yes, indeed, the orange essence makes it special. :)

    @Francesca: Give my regards to Sayaka! Yes, lots of chocolate is the secret. You know, they say it's good for you, too…:)

    @Si: Thanks!

  8. Francesca

    Frank, I will make this for Sayaka tonight, she'll be exhausted from the traffic jams caused by the strike here in Rome today. This will definitely cheer her up. She will love your secret to use LOTS of chocolate…:)

  9. Greg

    I am going to have my wife a cup of this. Last year we tested what Cook's Illustrated said was the best hot chocolate and believe me it was not. Cook's Illustrated version was thin and they used white chocolate instead of sugar. Just by reading your recipe I already think it will be better.

  10. Trix

    You are SO right – cocoa mix = yuk. This I will save for a snowy day … heaven. And congrats on your 300th post!!

  11. Nuts about food

    First of all congrats for your 300th post. I totally agree with you, if you are going to make hot chocolate why would you not use whole milk? As you surely know, hot chocolate in Italy is so thick you actually eat it with a spoon more than drink it. They use potato starch to make it…I wrote a post about it a while back. Not that your recipe needs tweeking, it looks lovely as is.

  12. Frank

    Thanks,friend, for your comments. I can see we are all hot cocoa lovers—the thicker and richer the better!

    @Drick: Well, you know, you can't let on to all of your secrets right away. Otherwise, people won't have a reason to keep visiting, lol!

  13. Vicki Bensinger

    This sounds delicious especially with the addition of the orange flavored whipped cream. Perfect for a chilly, rainy day like we have here today.

  14. Drick

    Frank, why have you been keeping this to yourself?? the cane sweetness, the perfect technique with caramelizing and then to have tones of orange essence… my goodness – what else do you have up your sleeve??

  15. PolaM

    I agree with you on all the above: thin, sweet and way too weak!
    For a really dense cup of hot chocolate, try adding a bit of corn starch or flour: Delicious! Of course then it becomes so dense and decadent that I like to drink it in a coffee cup instead of a mug or even a tea cup….

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