How to Make the Perfect Hot Chocolate

I’ve been working on this hot chocolate recipe for four years.

The video is a good place to start, but here are some additional remarks to help you get it right the first time.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces whole milk
  • 1/2 cup 60% cacao chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 4 ounces cold milk (in a small container)
  • 5 ounces heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Full disclosure, I’ve adapted this hot chocolate recipe from a Buzzfeed article detailing the method of Jacques Torres. I’ve borrowed some methods from similar recipes and I’ll share what I do differently and why.

Most of the time I also make whipped cream. From scratch. If you are making this for one serving, about 5 ounces is enough. If you’re making two servings I suggest 8 ounces or more. Torres doesn’t add powdered sugar (and also lets the whipped cream chill for five minutes in the freezer first). I feel the powdered sugar compliments the dark chocolate, but I’ve done it both ways. I put my whipped cream to chill in the freezer during the remaining process of making the hot chocolate.

Pro chefs like Torres measure out the chocolate by weight. Due the size and shape and variable nature of chips and shavings, weight is more accurate. However, I seldom feel like getting out a scale. In fact, with enough practice you won’t measure out anything except the milk. I know the amount of chocolate I like just barely fits in my open hand. Currently I’m using a 63% cacao chocolate, but I plan to try 70% soon.

 Ghirardelli and Guittard bittersweet chocolate baking chips
I’ve used both Ghirardelli and Guittard bittersweet chocolate with success

Corn starch is optional, but once you get the hang of it I feel it really gives this hot chocolate that extra 10% that is just amazing. I add the corn starch to a smaller quantity of cold milk. Often if you add corn starch to a hot liquid, it will clump up before it is fully dissolved. The last thing you want are lumps floating in your hot chocolate. I stir it with a fork while the other milk is still simmering, and I give it a stir once more right before I pour it into the hot chocolate mixture. Sometimes the corn starch settles out and if you don’t give it a final stir it might still form clumps.

Similarly to Torres, I heat the milk twice, but whereas he uses the word “boil,” I never let it get over 200 degrees, and I aim for 180. When I first started making this recipe I would actually boil it, but too often I would burn the milk or the chocolate. It’s not worth the risk to me. A candy thermometer will run you about five dollars. It’s a good way to get a sense for your temperature when you’re starting out. A number of other recipes insist on not letting the milk boil, so that’s a rule I’ve come to adopt.

A rare whipped cream free serving of hot chocolate
A rare whipped cream free serving of hot chocolate with plain toast.

The recipe above serves one monster size 16 ounce serving. Not going to lie, I’ve put on some weight this season in making myself hot chocolate on a semi-regular basis after a long day of work. It’s easy enough to pour it into two cups and make a little more whipped cream as necessary. And yes, you can cheat and buy whipped cream, but it will cost more per ounce and not taste nearly as good.

Hot chocolate with blueberry muffin.
Take one hot chocolate with a blueberry muffin about two hours before bed

Don’t fret if it doesn’t turn out just right the first time. I’ve had several failures along the way. Clean your utensils off and try again. Don’t forget to experiment with some of the quantities. No recipe is one size fits all.

Part of my reason for putting the video together was to keep what few video editing skills I have in check. Also, I hoped that it might drive some more traffic to my site so that people could learn a little bit more about me and my little art studio in DeKalb, IL. If you’re visiting for the first time, please look around!

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