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French hot chocolate is the chocoholic's dream. This thick, velvety smooth drink allows you to experience all the wonderful flavor notes of dark chocolate in every sip. You just need a few minutes and a couple ingredients to make this authentic chocolat chaud!
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What is French hot chocolate?
It is a rich beverage made simply of melted dark chocolate and whole milk. It is typically garnished with Chantilly cream (sweetened whipped cream with vanilla extract) or a pinch of coarse sea salt. A small cup is quite expensive if you buy it at a Parisian café, as this drink uses the best quality ingredients available.
Hot chocolate originated in Mexico with the Mayas about 2,500 years ago, but was originally served cold. The Spanish conquistadors sweetened the drink and brought it back to Europe in the 1528, where it slowly grew in popularity. By the 1600s, this bitter drink was immensely popular with the French royalty.
Throughout the years with changes in technology, the drink eventually became what we know today. This drink has spread throughout the world, with many variations depending upon the location it is served.
What ingredients are in it?
In its most basic form, it is composed simply of the highest quality dark chocolate and whole milk. Americans usually prefer to add a little brown sugar to sweeten the drink, as it is bitter otherwise. The French garnish the drink with a spoonful of Chantilly cream (sweetened whipped cream with vanilla) or a sprinkle of fleur de sel (an expensive kind of sea salt from France).
How to Pronounce "Chocolat Chaud"
The French call this drink chocolat chaud. Want to know how to pronounce this name? You'd say it SHOW-coo-lah SHEW. Listen to the pronunciation.
Can I make it in advance?
Yes, you can make it ahead of time. Allow the drink to cool to room temperature, then seal it inside of a clean mason jar and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warm.
What can I serve with it?
In Parisian cafés, it is typically served on its own, but if you want to be different, serve it with one of the following.
- Sweet: mint, coffee, or caramel flavored desserts
- Salty: pretzels, bread, or popcorn
- Tangy: fruits such as orange, lemon, grapefruit, kiwi, or pineapple
How to Make
Gather the ingredients. You'll need the best quality dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher), whole milk, brown sugar, and a couple pinches of coarse sea salt.
Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium heat until gently steaming, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, chop up the other ingredient.
Once the milk is steaming, remove it from the heat and add the chopped ingredient. Whisk for a couple minutes until it is fully melted and the mixture is well combined.
Return the pan to medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Be sure to keep whisking frequently to prevent it from burning.
Boil gently for 3-5 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the mixture has thickened. Taste and whisk in the brown sugar, if desired, then remove from the heat.
Gather the ingredients for the Chantilly cream. (This is the French version of whipped cream as we know it in North America.) To make this, you'll need heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract.
Pour all the ingredients into a bowl and beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until stiff. You know that the cream is done when it passes this test: the whipped cream shouldn't fall out of the bowl if it's turned upside down.
Pour the drink into small cups.
Garnish each cup with a dollop of Chantilly cream. Enjoy immediately!
- Use top-quality, dark chocolate in bar form. Use a minimum of 70% cacao made by a reputable brand such as Lindt, Ghirardelli, or Godiva.
- Never use chips, as they contain stabilizers which will affect the texture.
- Use whole milk, not cream. The creaminess of this drink comes from the high-quality chocolate, not cream.
- Keep the heat around medium. Don't turn the heat to high, or it may burn.
- Want a thinner version? Reduce dark morsels to 5 ounces (141g) and don't boil the mixture.
- Want a thicker version? Increase dark morsels to 7 ounces (198g) and gently boil the mixture for 3-5 minutes to thicken it.
- Make in advance. It tastes great a few hours or even up to 3 days later.
- Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. Remember to use medium heat, not high heat.
- 2-Quart Saucepan: this heavy-bottomed pan doesn't burn food easily.
- Whisks: we have loved using these sturdy stainless steel whisks for years!
- Cutting Board: this spacious cutting board is great for cutting up ingredients.
- Dark Chocolate: the flavor of this Lindt 70% really shines in this recipe.
Other Drinks for Chocoholics
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You don’t need to go to Paris to enjoy rich, creamy French hot chocolate! Make this easy recipe on the stovetop, then garnish with Chantilly cream. You’ll love every sip of this drink!
For the Drink
- 2 cups whole milk (475 ml)
- 6 ounces good-quality 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped (170g)
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, optional (24g)
- pinch of coarse sea salt, for garnish
For the Chantilly Cream
- ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream (80 ml)
- ¼ teaspoon caster sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
Making the Drink (20 min)
- Pour the milk into a 2-quart, heavy-based saucepan and set over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Heat the milk until it is gently steaming, but not simmering.
- Meanwhile, finely chop the dark morsels with a sharp knife.
- Once the milk is gently steaming, remove the pan from the heat and dump in the chopped morsels. Whisk continuously until it is melted and the mixture is smooth. Be patient; this will take a couple minutes.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and whisk in the brown sugar if desired.
- Serve hot, in small cups, garnished with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and a dollop of Chantilly cream. Alternatively, let it cool completely to room temperature and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop over gentle heat.
Making the Chantilly Cream (5 min)
- Pour the chilled whipping cream into a bowl and add the sugar and vanilla extract. Whip with a handheld electric mixer on medium speed until the cream is stiff. It shouldn't fall out of the bowl if it is turned upside down.
- Place a dollop of the Chantilly cream in each cup. Chantilly cream is best when enjoyed right away, but you can store leftovers covered tightly in the fridge for a day or two.
- Don't use chips or baking wafers, use it in bar form with a minimum of 70% cocoa solids.
- Keep the heat around medium. Don't turn the heat to high, or it may burn.
- Want it thinner or thicker? For a thinner drink, reduce the chocolate to 5 ounces (141g) and don't boil it. For a thicker drink, increase the it to 7 ounces (198g) and gently boil it for 3-5 minutes.
- Make it in advance. It tastes great a few hours or even up to 3 days later.
- Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop with medium heat.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: French
Keywords: hot chocolate recipe, chocolat chaud, french hot chocolate