I know you've tried those store-bought hot chocolate mix at least once. You're guilty, I am guilty! You've tried it because yours was not that thick, right? Well, I'm so ready to share my secret behind this Italian style thick hot chocolate recipe perfect for everyone, also those who suffer from celiac disease (it happens to be gluten free indeed!).
Why You'll Love This Hot Chocolate Italian Style
On these freezing days, the only thing that I really enjoy drinking and gives me relief - mainly because my hands are aaaalways so cold - is a hot beverage. In the evening, I drink fruit/chamomile infusion, but during the day a thick hot chocolate is what I need (not every single day, but when I look for a comforting drink).
I promise: if you'll try this, you'll never get back to the store-bought ones!
You'll love it because it's easy and quick to prepare and never fails, it has a rich flavor, and you'll love it also because we're going to use cornstarch (or rice flour) which makes it gluten free and perfect for everyone.
Creamy, thick, extra chocolatey and balanced in sweetness. Please, please, pleeeease try it! You'll thank me forever!
Ingredients For A Thick Hot Chocolate
Recreating that Italian style hot chocolate from a box that I can find here at the supermarket hasn't been that complicated. When in doubt, I keep it simple.
I know many recipes out there use heavy cream but I've never used it, since I don't like...well, how heavy it feels (literally in my mouth). Instead I usually use whole milk to make it rich but balanced. Have I tried skim milk? Yes and, even if it's a bit less rich, I liked it.
Anyway, here’s what you'll need:
- Milk. Choose your favorite. I use regular full fat milk for richness, but you can use almond or soy if you're vegan.
- Cocoa powder. Unsweetened, we're going to add a bit of sugar anyway.
- Cornstarch (or rice flour). Here's the hero of the recipe
- Raw brown sugar. I like it because it adds a bit of flavor. My recommendation is to skip or adjust it, in case you're going to add marshmallows on top.
- Dark chocolate chunks or chips. To make it even richer and decadent.
- Salt. To balance flavors.
What's Better For Hot Chocolate, Milk Or Water?
For this Italian Style thick hot chocolate: MILK. No Doubts.
Both me and my mom have always made it with milk. I've tried a Colombian version with water (chocolate caliente), but I still prefer the one with milk. It's richer in flavor and more nourishing.
Don't try to swap milk for water in this recipe, otherwise you won't have the same result.
How To Prepare It + Secrets
The process is very simple but there's one thing to pay attention to (I said secret but I would call it "cooking common sense":)):
1. Mix dry ingredients with milk
In a pot, combine cocoa powder and cornstarch with a few drops (= teaspoons) of milk, and stir until you get a very creamy consistency. Then gradually add the rest of the milk. This is the secret to avoid clumps.
2. Bring to a boil
Turn on the heat (low heat) and keep stirring otherwise it'll stick and get clumpy. Add salt, sugar and dark chocolate chunks, and let melt.
As soon as it boils, it should be ready and thick (you can let it cook for about 1-2 minutes). Remove from the heat and you're chocolate is done!
Ops it's too thick, what do I do?
Don't panic, simply add a bit more hot milk at the end, and mix.
What's The Difference Between Hot Cocoa And Hot Chocolate?
I'm Italian and we only have one word to define this amazing beverage: cioccolata calda, literally 'hot chocolate' (even though we rarely use chopped chocolate in it). So I thought hot cocoa and hot chocolate were synonyms.
Instead I just recently discovered that they are two different things:
- Hot cocoa is made from milk, sugar and cocoa powder (+ other flavors);
- Hot chocolate is made from melted chocolate and hot water, milk or cream (+ other flavors). TheKitchn says "the result is a rich, thick beverage that tends to be less sweet than hot cocoa, but more decadent. Sometimes it can be pudding-like"
So I guess my recipe is a combination of these two. It's more a hot cocoa but with chocolate chunks in it and a thick consistency.
So, Can Cocoa Powder Be Used For Hot Chocolate?
Now, technically, if you use cocoa powder it has to be called hot cocoa. But, who cares lol we don't want to be so rigid right?:) If you follow my recipe you can add cocoa powder and skip chunks.
The Perfect Edible Gift
Oh, friend, you should know this creamy thick hot chocolate is also the perfect edible gift, I mean look at the photo below! So cute.
Since it's gonna make every one drool, why not gifting your friends with cute little tubes/jars? Look at them, with that cute stopper: the perfect single-serving cocoa!
Now you're thinking 'Where the heck can I find those tubes?' - you know the answer, Amazon ! Or just buy cute little bottles (like these) ! If you don't want to buy stuff, use some ordinary jars...they'll be perfect as well (just increase amount of ingredients).
To prepare it: just layer all the dry ingredients, close, then write the directions (find them below) on a card, and you're done.
VERY IMPORTANT: if you give this to a celiac friend, make sure you don't touch any ingredient with gluten (like all purpose flour) or you will contaminate food.
Hot Chocolate Mix-Ins
I enjoy this simple hot chocolate but truth is you can add other ingredients to make it even more delicious.
Have you ever tried gingerbread hot chocolate? NO?! Well, you should. You don't know what you're missing. Just add cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and you'll have a super Christmassy hot beverage.
Other things to add in (or to top your chocolate with):
- Baileys or Kahlua;
- White or milk chocolate;
- Peppermint or vanilla extract;
- Espresso powder;
- Peppermint candy canes;
- Peanut butter;
- A dollop of whipped cream;
Whatever you add, I recommend not adding too much. Less is better, so you can enjoy this thick hot chocolate to the fullest.
How To Store It
Enjoy immediately. Or, if you have leftovers, store into an airtight container into the fridge for max 2 days. Then reheat (low heat) when you want to drink it.
If you make this recipe, please be sure to give it a rating and leave a comment! It would make me so happy! 🙂
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Thick Hot Chocolate Recipe (With Cocoa Powder)
- 6 tablespoons Unsweetened cocoa powder - 30 g
- 1 level tablespoon Cornstarch
- 1.5 cups Milk or plant milk - 300 g
- a pinch Salt
- 2 level tablespoons Raw brown sugar (or white) - (Adjust sugar if you also use marshmallows on top)
- 1.2 ounces Dark chocolate or choco chips - 35 g
- In a pot, mix cocoa powder and cornstarch with a few drops of milk, until you get a creamy consistency.
- Add the rest of the milk, turn on the heat (at low heat). Add salt, and sugar (unless you add marshmallows later). Add dark chocolate and let melt.
- NOTE: keep stirring otherwise it'll stick and get clumpy. Be careful not to burn the bottom.
- As soon as it boils, it should be ready and thick. Remove from the heat (or let simmer for max 1-2 minutes).
To make the edible gift:
- Layer all the dry ingredients into a jar or tube**, close.**In this case, use small chocolate chips.
- Write this on a cute card: "Pour the dry ingredients into a pan, gradually add milk/plant milk and stir with a whisk. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil (at low heat), keep stirring. Turn off the heat as soon as it gets creamy"
Liked this recipe?
It's even better if you dunk in it one of these gingerbread cookies!;)
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My daughter loves hot chocolate but can't have gluten. This was perfect. We all loved it, it's thick and rich, at the same time seems lighter than other recipes out there
I'm so glad to hear that, yay!