when i was a little girl, i loved the idea of hot chocolate. so warm. so cozy. so thick and delicious. so chocolaty. (::record scratch::) well, actually, it never was very chocolaty, and that’s why i always liked the *idea* of it more than actually drinking it.
i tried everything my young self could dream up to make it live up to the ideal i held in my head: i would cram two packets of swiss miss into my mug and try making it with milk, as the package instructed for a “creamier” result. all i got out of that was a sugar rush and, likely, a slightly ill feeling from all that sugar, not that i realized it (or would have admitted it) at the time.
as i got older, i expanded my search for excellent, thick hot chocolate and tried fancier powdered mixes as well as mixing my own from various recipes promising to be the best and to solve my hot chocolate woes.
nothing worth drinking ever resulted from any of the powdery mixes. for a while, though, the best option i could find was a mix of sorts, but it came with pieces of shaved chocolate in the tin, in addition to cocoa powder, rather than just powder (and sugar – always with the sugar!).
fast forward to my senior year of college, when one of my roommates (and now very dear friend, not *only* because of this recipe) was of belgian descent (update: she was born in belgium too! not sure how i didn’t know this…). her mom was born in belgium and knows her chocolate.
the first chilly day of the school year, my friend offered to make us “chocolate beverage”, which she described as decadent, thick hot chocolate. watching her melt a chocolate bar into heavy cream, i realized i had been going about my hot chocolate all wrong.
one small sip out of the tiny espresso cup that she poured the chocolate beverage into and i knew that i had found my forever hot chocolate recipe. in fact, even using the phrase “hot chocolate” to describe it is doing a disservice; it is so different from and better than thin/too sweet/not chocolaty enough american hot chocolate.
the best way i can describe this rich chocolate beverage is as a melted chocolate truffle or perhaps like warm chocolate pudding (but really good chocolate pudding!). in europe, this drink is called “drinking chocolate” so if you’ve had that, this is it. well, except without having to deal with airfare and passports…
and speaking of simplicity, this recipe couldn’t be easier: there are two ingredients. you melt them together. done. that said, you have a lot of control over how it turns out though, based on what kind of chocolate you use (more details on that in the recipe notes). basically, just pick a bittersweet chocolate that you really like to eat and you can’t go wrong. i mean, this recipe is called “drinking chocolate” after all – how bad could it possibly be?!
- 1 oz. (28 g.) bittersweet (58 – 72% cacao) chocolate from a bar or block, see notes
- 1/3 cup (76 g.) heavy cream
- optional: tiny (i mean it, tiny!) dash of ground cinnamon, ground chipotle, ground cayenne, or some combination of those
- roughly chop or break the chocolate into pieces (a wooden cutting board creates less static than a plastic one).
- fill a small saucepan with an inch or two of water and set a small heat safe bowl over the pan (we’re creating a makeshift double boiler). the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. heat over medium heat.
- add the chocolate and cream to the bowl over the heat. using a flexible scraper, stir constantly, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl so the chocolate doesn’t burn. stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. drinking chocolate should be thick yet pourable.
- immediately pour into your smallest mugs (espresso cups work well). add a tiny dash of spice to the top, if you like. serve immediately (but do be careful not to burn your mouth). drinking chocolate will thicken as it cools. leftovers can be stored in airtight container in the refrigerator for several days. drinking chocolate will harden in the fridge. you can reheat it in the microwave if you promise to use a low power setting for short time intervals and stir frequently so that the chocolate doesn’t scorch.
use good quality bittersweet chocolate that you like for this recipe. given that there are only two ingredients, it’s worth it to use the good stuff. that said, what the “good stuff” is depends on what you like.
callebaut (often sold in randomly sized little blocks wrapped in plastic wrap and located near the fancy cheese department) is a solid choice, as is the 72% cacao pound plus bar at trader joe’s (though at 17+ oz., this is obviously waaaaay more than you need for this recipe). ghiradelli is often available in the baking aisle of grocery stores and is another solid choice, though when i first started using ghiradelli baking chocolate, i found some of the “subtle” flavors that fancy people talk about to be none-too-subtle. now i like it though.
finally, whatever you use, make sure it’s a bar or block, not chips. chips usually have additives to make them not melt in cookies, which is the opposite of what we want.
adapted from my dear friend’s recipe for chocolate beverage.