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How to Make The Ultimate Cup of Hot Chocolate

Starting tomorrow I'm going on vacation for about ten days, so I wanted to leave you with something light and fun (I don't have time to finish up my current 'serious' post). So here's my recipe (passed along from my neighbor) for making the ultimate cup of hot chocolate at home. It's easy, and you will never again want to drink anything made only with cocoa powder (even good cocoa powder).

  • 8 ounces of good milk (preferably organic, and from a local farm)
  • ~4 tablespoons of fine chocolate (details in the Notes below)
  • ~1/2 tablespoon good quality sweetened cocoa powder (I like Scharffen Berger's)

  1. Pour the milk into a small sauce pan.
  2. Use a knife to break off small pieces of chocolate from the block, and measure out approximately 4 tablespoons (careful not to cut yourself!)
  3. Put the chocolate pieces into the milk.
  4. Add the cocoa powder to the milk.
  5. Heat on medium-high, whisking frequently until the milk is just about to boil.
  6. Pour into a cup and enjoy!

That's it! (NB: You may need to exercise more to make up for your increase in calories.)

  • Regarding the chocolate, you really need to buy couverture chocolate (professional grade chocolate) with a minimum of 31% cocoa. I prefer so-called 'dark' or 'bitter' chocolate with percentages more like 60% or 70%. I've had great results using (in increasing cost): Callebaut from Belgium, El Ray from Venezuela, Valhrona from France, and Scharffen Berger from America. They're available at fine food stores (I found them at our local Whole Foods store). I've found that each chocolate has its own flavor. For example, to me the El Ray has a wonderful fruity flavor (I'm serious - try it!).
  • I add the cocoa powder (a tip from the great folks at our local Burdick cafe) to make it a bit richer (as if it needs it) and creamier.
  • I find that when using the Valhrona chocolate I prefer to let the milk just begin to boil (i.e., let it get hotter than with other brands). This allows it to thicken up and get richer, something that I believe it needs.
  • I used to shave the chocolate, but that was too much work, and unnecessary! Just break off chunks to get the right amount.
  • I've found that my results vary quite a bit depending on the chocolate, the milk, and the stove's heating characteristics. I've learned the hard way that I get the best results at home with known ingredients (I've been disappointed making it for family and friends at their houses, so I've stopped.)

Reader Comments (6)

To make the sauce pan cleaning easier, wet it with water before pouring with milk.
BTW your blog is very interesting.

June 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFred

Thanks for the tip, Fred, and for reading.

June 3, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. [ read this | http://www.swissworld.org/en/switzerland/swiss_specials/swiss_chocolate/chocolate_arrives_in_switzerland/ ]

November 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenters.j.simon

That's fascinating, s.j. - thanks for the link. FYI I'll repeat a bit here:

Heinrich Escher, mayor of Zurich, was introduced to chocolate in Brussels in 1697 and brought it back home, where it was discreetly consumed at the feasts of the various guilds which ruled the city, until the Zurich Council banned it in 1722 as unfit for virtuous citizens. (It had a reputation as an aphrodisiac.)

November 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Cornell

Hi Matt! It's been a while but your name has been circling my region a bit of late re: GTD / productivity. It's funny that I am working on making a drinking chocolate mix and was looking for inputs that I find this post.

Hope this finds you well and glad to see you are still being as productive as ever.


December 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Ciordia

I love your work - I bet it tastes yummy :-)

December 21, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermatthewcornell

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