This Italian hot chocolate recipe is so rich and creamy, you’ll never make traditional hot cocoa again! It has almost a pudding-like consistency filled with chocolate flavor from the cocoa powder and real chocolate chunks, topped with a dollop of whipped cream, making it a decadent dessert that can fill your mugs in just 15 minutes.
There’s nothing like a cup of hot cocoa on a cold, snowy day (maybe even with a hot chocolate bomb), but I’m telling you now, American hot chocolate has nothing on the Italian style! Essentially, it’s chocolate milk that has been heated (that we are used to), but this taste is so much creamier and THICK. Normally I would say you could swap the milk for another variety, but definitely use whole milk for this drink so you get the same texture. For those wondering if there is a boozy version, check out the dirty snowman instead.
During this time of year, I am also in love with chicken tortilla soup, chili and my homemade tomato bisque, all of which are warm and inviting when it’s freezing cold outside!
- Made for chocolate lovers.
- Rich, creamy, and indulgent.
- Easy to make with simple ingredients.
- Makes the perfect holiday beverage.
What Ingredients do I Need for Creamy Italian Hot Chocolate?
- whole milk
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- granulated sugar – could also use coconut sugar
- dark chocolate – be sure it’s a high quality chocolate and sweetened
- cornstarch – helps to make the hot chocolate thicker than normal
- vanilla extract – ties all the flavors together
Pro Tip: Don’t skimp on the high quality chocolate, it’s a game changer and you can definitely tell a difference with the cheaper brands.
How to Make Italian Hot Chocolate with Cocoa Powder
PREP: Reserve half a cup of milk and set aside. Chop the bar of chocolate into small pieces.
WARM THE MIXTURE: Combine the milk, salt, sugar, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer while stirring constantly.
MAKE THE SLURRY: Whisk together the remaining milk and cornstarch in a small bowl to make a slurry. Slowly pour it in the hot chocolate and continue cooking while it thickens.
SERVE: Stir in the vanilla and serve immediately for the best winter treat!
- This drink is perfect like it is, but if you decide to top it with chocolate shavings, mini marshmallows, whipped cream, or a dusting of cocoa powder we wouldn’t be mad!
- Keep the chocolate mixture on low heat when simmering. We don’t want the milk to scald.
- You can expect a thick and moderately rich drink using this recipe. If you want it richer, use dark cocoa powder and/or add a darker (up to 80%) chocolate. Up to a cup of cream can be substituted for the milk.
- Taste the hot chocolate once it has thickened then adjust the sweetness as needed.
- Cornstarch is a thickening agent. We make a slurry by dissolving cornstarch in a cold liquid (milk, in this case). Cornstarch begins to thicken when heat is added, so if you dump the cornstarch straight into the hot chocolate, it will form lumps. The cornstarch slurry prevents the lumps and allows the cornstarch to mix in smoothly and then thicken.
The first Italian version of this drink was called ciaoccolata calda and was created in Turin in the late 1500s.
Keep it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Warm by heating over low heat on the stovetop.
The Italian version is much richer and creamier. Plus, you would never use water to make it as you would with instant hot chocolate. Regular hot chocolate also tastes milkier and less indulgent.
Italian Hot Chocolate
- 4 cups whole milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 3.5 oz. dark chocolate 60% cocoa, chopped into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Reserve ½ cup of the milk. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, combine remaining 3 ½ cups of milk, salt, cocoa powder, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Add the dark chocolate and stir until melted.
- To the reserved ½ cup milk, add the cornstarch and stir until the cornstarch is fully dissolved.
- With the chocolate mixture still simmering, pour in the cornstarch slurry while whisking/stirring constantly. Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture thickens (1-2 minutes).
- Remove from heat, add vanilla extract, and serve immediately.
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