Italian Hot Chocolate (Cioccolata Calda)
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.
One year ago: Easy Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
Two years ago: Decker Cake
Five years ago: Pecan Tassies
Italian Hot Chocolate (Cioccolata Calda)
- 1 cup (244 ml) whole milk, divided
- 1 cup (238 ml) heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) cornstarch
- 4½ ounces (127.57 g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
- Whipped cream, to garnish
- 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.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
Because I have cancer and muscle atrophy, I used double the cornstarch (0.5 gelatin for higher protein and less carbs) plus zero sugar and added 1.5 cups 2% milk to compensate for the Heavy Cream. One could use half & half, but Heavy cream I used 1.5 cups more milk.
I was looking for an alternative to always drinking bone broth; Sometimes you want something sweet. If making this Italian warm/hot pudding for others as well as yourself, they can add a tsp at a time to achieve the sweetness your family and friends want, who don’t have cancer.
This hot chocolate is thick and delicious! Love this as a dessert on a chilly evening.
I made this recipe this evening for my wife and four sons. Wow! It was so thick and rich and delicious! Everyone loved it and wanted more. It was fun to watch their eyes light up at their first sip. My wife literally licked her mug clean!
I followed the recipe as written, except that I used Dove chocolate: half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate. Everyone commented about how creamy and smooth it was. Definitely a hit. This will be added to our favorites.
Thanks a heap!
Thanks for the fabulous recipe- I’m planning to make it soon! Do you have a favorite brand of dark chocolate that you use?
I typically use Ghiradelli, or less often, Valrhona. Enjoy! :)
Thank you! I used Ghiradelli like you suggested, and it’s incredible!
I have been to Italy once, and thankfully but sadly, I didn’t find out about their hot chocolate until a day or two before we left. I still managed to have it twice! It is very memorable and this looks like I remember it. Thick, incredibly rich and oh so decadent! I can’t wait to make it!
Thank you very much for the recipe, I want the winter comes faster to try this hot chocolate :)
And thanks all the comments! I think I will try some of the suggestions >.<
Hi, it’s truly a Italian hot chocolate, the only thing missing is a bit of real vanilla ????
I was just on my honeymoon in Italy and had it for the first time! Your description is perfect, it really did taste like you were drinking pudding it was so chocolatey and thick! I will have to make this!
This looks incredible! So decadent!
Looks and sounds so good. I made something similar a few years ago but will have to try this one. I would HAVE to add vanilla though…I can’t do hot chocolate or chocolate milk (which I make rich) without it. ?
I’ve long been a devotee of Catalan hot chocolate, and this sure looks similar, thickened with corn starch until it’s like a soft chocolate pudding. This recipe may be richer tasting because of the heavy cream, so I’ll be sure to try it soon.
I don’t make hot chocolate often but after reading this recipe, I may want it a lot more! This recipe sounds so delicious….thank you and my husband thanks
This sounds delicious and i will be using it soon! Probably this weekend – have to get some heavy cream …and more chocolate…Thanks for trying it out for us first: and I agree – great pics!
I first had this in Italy, in a little shop in Perugia, and knew I had to have it again once I was back! Your recipe is similar to those I’ve used. I sometimes combine both cocoa powder and dark chocolate, to get a very chocolatey drink. Yum!
Okay – so I read this earlier this morning and I knew I had to make it. And so here I sit sipping this – trying to control myself. I have been after really decadent hot chocolate since my trip to Paris last year. This is definitely it. Better than any I had in Paris. The height of decadence! Thank you for printing this – it is truly wonderful!
What are your thoughts on subbing white chocolate for the dark? Would you adjust the sugar? I had white hot chocolate in France years ago and would love to recreate it. Thanks for a great looking recipe!
I always put a bit more white chocolate in, but the best is just to keep adding until you have the flavour you want. I always add a bit of grated nutmeg as I think it goes very well with the white chocolate!
Sounds wonderful! Thank you for the advice!
Hi Nicole, I find white chocolate to be pretty sweet, so I would probably cut back on the sugar. Let me know how it turns out!
Oh my! Your description immediately reminded me of the Chocolat Chaud that we had in Paris. That hot chocolate was THE best I’ve ever had, and as you said with the Cioccolata Calda, it’s very thick. I have a cookbook from Ladurre which contains their recipe for chocolate chaud, and both recipes are very similar with the exception of the cornstarch – chocolat chaud doesn’t call for it. Thanks for posting this today. I can not wait to try it! And don’t you know the weather forecast for the weekend is to be colder?!? Seems like perfect timing, no? :) Have a great day, Michelle!
I’m Italian…and your recipe is quite good.
OMG!! This looks similar to the Italian Mocha at Nordstrom’s E-Bar cafe that I love, love, love! I guess I could substitute coffee for some of the milk?
Hi Michelle, I think that would work just fine! Enjoy!
It sounds divine!
Thanks for the recipe, it is very similar to the Spanish hot chocolate drink so nothing much to add there, but in Spain it is very common to dunk churros in the hot chocolate drink.
Churros are designed for chocolate. They are corrugated so the hot chocolate sticks to them. I would wholeheartedly recommend you give them a try.
There are many recipes out there so you should have no problem picking one up. To start you off please find a link to a fuller explanation of what churros are: