Italian Hot Chocolate (Cioccolata Calda) is incredibly rich and thick – almost like drinking pudding. Such a decadent drink!
About a month or so ago, my husband asked me if I had heard of chocolate calda, or Italian hot chocolate. I told him I hadn’t, and he said he just read something about it and it might be worth trying out.
(Kudos to him for enabling my chocolate obsession, right?!)
I made a note of it and finally got around to checking it out this week; as soon as I got the gist of what Italian hot chocolate is, I knew I would love it. Basically, Italian hot chocolate is ultra-thick, almost like drinking pudding… and I mean that in the best possible way.
There was no shortage of recipes when I started my search, but this one jumped out at me. First of all, it used cream along with milk to give it an ultra-richness, and it included actual chocolate instead of cocoa powder. The chocolate mixture is thickened with a little bit of cornstarch, which creates a drink really, truly reminds me of pudding. It’s of course not THAT thick – it’s still quite liquid and pourable, but has such an amazing richness that has me craving another mug ASAP. I used dark chocolate, which I love, but if you prefer a sweeter flavor, you could definitely substitute semisweet chocolate.
I’ve never been to Italy, so I don’t have anything to compare this to, but it is absolutely, positively better than any hot chocolate I’ve ever had. If you’re looking for a warm holiday drink to sip on while opening presents, this would be fantastic.
In a small saucepan, whisk together the ¾ cup of the milk, the cream and sugar. Set the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until it starts to bubble around the edges.
While the milk mixture is heating, whisk together the remaining ¼ milk and the cornstarch until it is smooth. Once the milk mixture starts bubbling around the edges, add the milk and cornstarch mixture and whisk until it’s heated through, about 1 minute.
Add the the chopped chocolate and whisk together until it’s smooth and thick enough to coat a spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour into mugs and serve with whipped cream if desired (this recipe filled two standard coffee mugs for me, but it's pretty rich, so I could definitely see only having a half cupful if you prefer). The drink will continue to thicken if it is left to sit off the heat.
Note: To spike these drinks, whisk 1½ tablespoons of your favorite liqueur into the hot chocolate after removing from the heat.Nutritional vales are based on one serving