Move over hot cocoa. It’s time to have rich and decadent, thick Italian hot chocolate! Get your hands on some intense dark chocolate and pull out your whisk. In just a few minutes you’ll be sipping on a drink which is somewhere between a chocolate ganache and drinkable pudding. And will make all your chocolate dreams come true!
A few weeks ago, when I was deciding what beverage would grace my blog in December, my daughter had a complaint. She was tired of me making all sorts of yummy cocktails which she was too young to enjoy. It didn’t seem fair! And I couldn’t argue with her.
It wasn’t fair.
Even though she does enjoy Brussels sprouts more than I would have expected in a twelve-year-old, fun and festive drinks are certainly going to be more exciting! Not too surprising since fun and festive drinks are more exciting for sprout loving adults as well. 🙂
Therefore, I cast my mind in the direction of warming, kid-friendly drinks. I knew I wanted a hot beverage for December and I knew I wanted chocolate, so it didn’t take long for me to alight on Italian hot chocolate.
Tip: Keep a spoon on hand when enjoying cioccolata calda. It can get quite thick as it cools and you may prefer to scoop it out rather than drink it!
While I was familiar with the concept of cioccolata calda, I wasn’t sure about the details. It seemed to be a drink of chocolate, milk, and a thickener of some sort, and a quick google survey showed me I was right. Italian hot chocolate turns out to be quite simple! Bittersweet (or at least semisweet) chocolate, half and half, a little cornstarch, and some sugar if you need it.
And that’s it!
Well, except for the bit that I decided an infusion of cinnamon would be a totally excellent addition to the recipe. So, I told my family that I would have to make the hot chocolate…again.
They were crushed. 🙂
But they rallied and agreed to try the cinnamon version and gave it a big thumbs up! Phew.
Tip: If you are sensitive to caffeine, be careful about having more than a few ounces of the hot chocolate late in the day. Too much bittersweet chocolate can keep you up at night!
One last run through, and a pile of chocolaty photos later, and I bring you cinnamon infused thick Italian hot chocolate for all your cold weather, chocolate sipping needs!
A few points about the recipe:
- Yes, have a spoon. The operative word here is thick!
- Stick close to your cooktop. A few minutes inattention and you could burn the hot chocolate or turn it lumpy.
- You only need a little cup. The other operative word is rich!
- Whipped cream is an optional topping which I highly recommend.
– Happy sipping, Annemarie
- 1 1/2 cups half and half or whole milk
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar and more if needed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 3.5 oz dark chocolate: semisweet or bittersweet, finely chopped
- toppings: powdered cinnamon, whipped cream
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 1/4 cups of half and half (reserve the remaining 1/4 cup) with the sugar and cinnamon stick on medium heat. Stir occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the milk is starting to bubble, 7-8 minutes.
Mix the reserved half and half with the cornstarch until smooth. Add the slurry to the bubbling half and half. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly and simmer for 1 minute.
Add the chopped chocolate and whisk it into the half and half until it is completely melted and smooth and the hot chocolate is quite hot, 2-3 minutes. Taste and stir in another tablespoon of sugar if needed. Remove the cinnamon stick.
Pour the hot chocolate into 4 small cups. Top with whipped cream and powdered cinnamon.
The nutritional information is an estimate and is included for informational purposes only. Please make your own calculations using your specific ingredients if you need an accurate calorie count.
If you want a spiked version of the drink, add 3-4 ounces of the liqueur or brandy/whiskey of your choice at the very end before you take the hot chocolate off the heat. Let the spiked drink warm briefly (enough to warm the alcohol but not evaporate it), then pour and serve.
Don't leave this on the heat without stirring it frequently! (No walking away!) If you do it may burn or become lumpy.
Italian hot chocolate is all about the chocolate. Use a favorite semisweet or bittersweet eating chocolate. I have used up to 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate.
For a not-so-indulgent treat, I have made this with 2% milk.
My husband tells me that whipped cream is mandatory and my daughter suggests that you stir the whipped cream into the drink.