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Italian Hot Chocolate

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.

white cup and saucer being filled with Italian hot chocolate poured from a white jug.

Why you’ll love this recipe

Italian hot chocolate (known as cioccolata calda) is certainly very different to regular hot chocolate in a very good way! 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.

Italian Hot Chocolate pairs so well with maritozzi – Italian cream buns! Yes, totally indulgent but totally Italian!

Ingredient notes

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.

  1. Chocolate
  2. Milk, even 2% makes delicious a decadent drink.
  3. Sugar,
  4. Cornflour

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

On the left milk, chocolate. sugar and cornflour and on the right saucepan of chocolate liquid with red spatula.
  • 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

  1. Use real chocolate not cocoa and 70% cocoa or higher is best. Be sure to use quality chocolate. Of course, if you prefer a milder taste, use chocolate with 60% cocoa or less.
  2. I like to use 2% milk but you can use whole milk if you prefer.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Serving suggestions

three white cups and saucers filled with chocolate liquid and a spoonful being lifted out.

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 Almond Flour Peanut Butter Cookies.

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.

Three cups and saucers filled with chocolate beverage and some being poured out of a white jug.

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 and some Almond Flour Cookies. Head to the kitchen now to make this cioccolata calda! If you are looking for a more adult drink, be sure to try my delicious Baileys Hot Chocolate as well!

Made this recipe?
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three white cups and saucers filled with hot chocolate and a spoonful of hot chocolate being lifted out

Italian Hot Chocolate Recipe

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.
5 from 37 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings:4 servings
Author: Marcellina

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (4oz/115 grams) dark bittersweet chocolate (coarsely chopped) See Note 1
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk See Note 2
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch See Note 3
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

  1. I prefer to use chocolate with 70% cocoa however if you like a sweeter hot chocolate use milk chocolate or even white chocolate.
  2. While whole milk is delicious, I often use 2% milk for this recipe. In fact, any milk or non dairy milk can be used.
  3. Corn starch is known as cornflour in the UK and Australia.
Variations 
  • For added flavour, try including a few drops of vanilla, peppermint oil or a splash of rum or your favourite liqueur.
Tried this recipe? Give it a star rating and leave a comment below!

Nutritional Estimate Per Serving

Calories: 255kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 45mg | Potassium: 326mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 148IU | Calcium: 124mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.

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21 Comments

  1. It’s not quite hot chocolate weather here in the northern hemisphere, but this post had me hankering for some anyway! Nothing can beat it on a chilly autumn or winter afternoon. Never done it but I do like the idea of a few drops of rum and definitely just a little sugar. The slight bitterness of pure chocolate is part of the delight!

    1. Ooooh, I love the idea of a couple of drops of rum in this hot chocolate. Definitly going to try that before our winter in the southern hemisphere ends!

  2. 5 stars
    This looks so good, it brings back many very happy memories of holidays and drinking a lot of this hot chocolate as dessert! 🙂

      1. I honestly can’t thank you enough Marcellina! I enjoyed this about 10 years ago at cafes throughout Serbia, served with and without a sweet dessert cream we call šlag. Back then nobody could tell me how to easily make it back home in Australia!
        Tucked away safely in my memory bank until now!

        You’re a gem!!!! 💗💗💗

        1. Wow, Branka! That’s great! I’m so thrilled to be able to share this with you. I adored it in Italy and love making it at home too. The dessert cream sounds like a wonderful addition! Thanks for your lovely comment. Marcellina xx

  3. 5 stars
    I remember having this type of hot chocolate in Italy a few years ago – so thick and delicious, it’s almost like a chocolate pudding. Yum!!