With this Italian Hot Chocolate recipe, you’ll learn to make the best hot chocolate you’ve ever had!
It’s smooth, thick and decadent but so easy to make a home in just 10 minutes. Plus using non wheaten cornflour means you’ve got a gluten free indulgence.
What is different about this recipe?
I just knew you’d ask this question. Italian hot chocolate (known as cioccolata calda) is certainly very different to regular hot chocolate. This is a thick, almost pudding-like drink that is enjoyed in bars all over Italy. It’s more like a dessert than a drink. At home, most people use Italian hot chocolate sachets.
During our recent trip to Italy, on a cold day in a house tucked up in the hills near Turin, our cousins made a batch using the Italian hot chocolate sachets. And later, I enjoyed ordering this thick hot chocolate in bars as an alternative to coffee.
On my return to Australia, we were straight into winter so I really wanted a cup of cioccolata calda. I came across this recipe and decided to try my own version of it. To make this hot chocolate recipe at home you need 4 simple pantry and refrigerator staples.
- Milk, even 2% makes delicious a decadent drink.
Variations and additions
Substitute milk chocolate or even white chocolate for the dark, bittersweet chocolate if you prefer a sweeter drink. And for added flavor, try a few drops of vanilla, peppermint oil or a splash of rum or your favorite liqueur.
How to make this recipe
- Place the chocolate and 1 cup of milk into a small saucepan and melt chocolate over low heat.
- In a small bowl combine well the remaining ½ cup of milk and the cornstarch (cornflour)
- When the chocolate has melted remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the combined milk/cornflour mixture.
- Add the sugar.
- Return the saucepan to a low to medium heat and stir until the mixture thickens.
- Serve hot in small cups.
Be sure to check the recipe below for complete and comprehensive instructions for perfect hot chocolate.
Tips for success
- Use real chocolate not cocoa and 70% cocoa or higher is best. Be sure to use quality chocolate.
- I like to use 2% milk but you can use whole milk if you prefer.
- There is just a little bit of sugar in this rich hot chocolate recipe because it’s not meant to be very sweet. Add more if you like sweetness.
- Cornstarch thickens this recipe. Cornstarch is also known as corn flour. Don’t confuse it with the corn flour that is very finely ground corn meal.
While I think that there really isn’t anything you need to add to this drink, you could always add a dollop of cream or some marshmallows and an extra grating of chocolate to be totally indulgent. However serving a biscotto or cookie on the side for dunking is certainly welcomed! My recipe for biscotti with espresso and hazelnuts or pizzelle would be perfectly indulgent. Or keep it gluten free with these delicious Almond cookies by It’s Not Complicated Recipes.
Most importantly, serve with a spoon for scooping up this thick, rich pudding-like drink. And be sure to serve small portions because you won’t get through a regular mug full.
Italian Hot Chocolate was never meant to be a light and refreshing drink. It is dark, rich and indulgent ideal for cold days on the sofa, tuck up with a blanket. Head to the kitchen now to make this cioccolata calda!
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Italian Hot Chocolate (gluten free)
- ¾ cup (4oz/115 grams) dark bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 2 teaspoons non wheaten cornflour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Into a small saucepan place the chocolate and 1 cup of milk.
- Place over low heat and allow the chocolate to melt stirring from time to time.
- In a small bowl put the remaining ½ cup of milk and the cornflour (cornstarch). Stir to combine, ensuring all the lumps are dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
- When the chocolate has melted remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the milk/cornflour mixture. Be sure that the cornflour is still mixed through the milk as it has a tendency to settle to the bottom so give it a little stir before adding to the chocolate/milk mixture.
- Add the sugar.
- Return the saucepan to a low to medium heat and stir until the mixture thickens. Some bubbles will start to form around the edges and it will start to come to a simmer. However you don’t need to let it come to a boil it will thicken anyway.
- Taste for sweetness. Add more sugar if you prefer. Or serve with sugar so that each can add sugar to their liking.
- Pour into small cups or espresso cups to serve with a spoon on the side for scooping.