Browsing hot chocolate recipes (and comparing them to hot cocoa recipes) will help you with specific hot chocolate concoctions, but this guide to hot chocolate is more about the basic skills behind making perfect hot chocolate. Use the insider tips below to get from a block of chocolate to steaming hot, divinely delicious cups of drinking chocolate every time.
Chop the Chocolate
- Place a pre-measured chunk of chocolate into a food processor. As demonstrated in this how to make hot chocolate video, the amount of amount of chocolate you can use is fairly flexible.
- Place the food processor’s chopping vessel (complete with blade) into the fridge.
- Once the chocolate and food processor are chilled, remove them.
- Immediately chop the chocolate in the food processor in five-second “bursts” until it is finely and evenly chopped. (This will prevent uneven melting and scorching later.)
- Optional: Blend sugar, cocoa powder and/or a dash of salt in with the chopped chocolate.
Melt the Chocolate
- Heat milk over medium-low in a small saucepan or double broiler. (Note: Substitute milk with cream for a thicker beverage, or add a splash of water for a less creamy, subtler quaff.)
- Stir often. (Note: The creamier your mixture, the more often it needs to be stirred.)
- Before the milk reaches boiling, remove it from heat. (Warning: Failing to remove the milk before it reaches boiling will alter the texture and flavor of the milk for the worse. Never allow your milk or drinking chocolate to boil.)
- In a separate pan, pour a few tablespoons of hot milk over the chopped chocolate.
- Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Heat the Chocolate
- Gradually add more milk, stirring as you go.
- Return the mixture to medium-low heat.
- Stir constantly for about two minutes, adding other ingredients (such as vanilla extract) if desired.
- Remove from heat.
“Rest” the Hot Chocolate
Allow the drinking chocolate to sit for at least ten minutes. (Note: This allows its flavor and texture to develop more fully. It can be “rested” for up to two nights in the fridge before the next step.)
Froth the Hot Chocolate
- Return to medium-low heat.
- Bring to a simmer.
- Whisk rapidly until the surface of the cocoa is covered in foam. (Note: Alternately, you can use a molinillo to whisk the cocoa.)
Serve the Hot Chocolate
- Pre-warm your cups. (Note: Deep mugs are ideal for more watery drinking chocolates, while smaller cups are better for creamier ones.)
- Ladle your drinking chocolate into the cups.
- Garnish with cinnamon sticks, ground spices, melted caramel, mini marshmallows, grated orange zest, whipped cream or other toppings.
- Serve with a spoon.
Side note: If you're more of a audio-visual learner, check out this video on how to make hot chocolate. It's a pared-down version of the instructions above, and it makes great hot chocolate!