On our recent trip to Paris, one day was spent mostly at the Musée du Louvre. We had a wonderful time wandering the many galleries and seeing much of its huge collection of beautiful paintings, varied sculptures, and exquisite objects. When we grew hungry in the early afternoon, we decided to head to the Café Richelieu for a light lunch. The food was excellent, and after our lunch we ordered hot chocolate. When it was brought to our table, we were presented with two small cups, a container of whipped cream, and a small pitcher filled with the dark chocolate liquid. It was think and rich; deeply chocolatey. Drinking this hot chocolate was like drinking a chocolate bar. It was delicious and sumptuous. Only latter did I realize that Café Richelieu is the Louvre outpost of the famous Parisian café Angelina, and the hot chocolate we ordered was their famous speciality Chocolat l’Africain. Yep, it’s justly famous. It really is one of the world’s best cups of hot chocolate!
Not being able to make a trip to Paris just to satisfy a need for a delicious hot chocolate fix, the question becomes how does one make something like it at home? Unlike American cups of cocoa, which are usually based on cocoa powder, European hot chocolates generally get their rich chocolateiness from melted chocolate. It results in a thicker and more intense chocolate experience. And with that knowledge, I embarked on a few experiments to make a hot chocolate to approximate my Paris delight.
My results led to the recipe below. Be sure to use good quality chocolate with at least 60–70% cocoa solids. Ghirardelli or Guittard bittersweet chocolates would be good choices, for example. The recipe below makes enough of this rich hot chocolate for two, or a larger serving for one chocolate lover. It really is quite simple, and it easily scales to fit your chocolate needs. Make this and you are in for a real rich dark chocolate treat.
Rich, Thick Hot Chocolate
- 4 oz. high-quality bittersweet chocolate (at least 60–70% cocoa solids)
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ⅔ cup milk
- 1½ tsp. sugar (or to taste)
- ¼ tsp. vanilla
- whipped cream for topping (optional)
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces and set aside.
- Combine the cream, milk, and sugar in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.
- Heat the dairy, stirring occasionally, over medium to medium-high heat until hot but not boiling, approximately 190–200°F.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
- Still off the heat, add the chocolate to the hot milk mixture in several small batches while whisking. When all the chocolate is added, whisk vigorously to be sure that all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is homogeneous and smooth.
- Pour into a serving vessel or individual cups. Whipped cream may be served on the side as an optional topping.