While I was in Paris I took the opportunity to try a cup of the world-famous chocolat chaud at Angelina’s sumptuous tearoom on Rue Rivoli. Let me just say, its fame was well-earned– the chocolate was rich, smooth, and dark, with just the right amount of sweetness. Unlike some people who have tried it, I didn’t think it tasted like a melted chocolate bar– on the contrary, it was just milky enough not to be cloying, and not too thick. Really, it was excellent, and while I have my own hot cocoa recipe for winter days, I thought it would be nice to have another version in my recipe box for special occasions.
Of course, the internet yielded a plethora of recipes, each purporting to replicate French-style hot chocolate but each one different. I decided to try a few to see which came closest to what I remembered.
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. powdered sugar
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Heat milk and cream in a saucepan over low heat until it just starts to let off whiffs of steam. When the milk is ready, stir in the chopped chocolate and the sugar and whisk until smooth, returning to heat as necessary to fully melt. Serve immediately.
I used Trader Joe’s 72% dark chocolate in this and it turned out extremely well. Rich, thick, and creamy. I think if you were to use a slightly less dark chocolate (say, between 65 and 70%) you might not need the powdered sugar.
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3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
I wanted to see what would happen if I used an inferior-quality chocolate (but one which everyone would have in their pantries at any given moment. Follow directions set out above.
This version was not particularly good. Sure, it was rich and chocolaty, but it was just kind of okay. I fully admit that the reason behind the mediocrity of this one was the use of chocolate chips rather than a better-quality or at the very least higher-percentage chocolate. The Nestle semisweet chips were much too sweet, even without the powdered sugar from the original recipe (which I omitted because I knew it would be sweet already), and the stabilizers in the chips– necessary to allow them to hold their shape– made the finished product ever-so-slightly grainy, not smooth. I actually prefer my Hershey dry cocoa recipe to this one, as I can adjust the sweetness to taste.
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Recipe 2 (from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets)
1. Angelina’s serves their chocolat chaud with unsweetened whipped cream. I might try that as well, or perhaps add a touch of flavored liqueur to the cream before whipping. Triple sec, anyone? Or creme de menthe?
2. FYI, at Le Grande Epicerie in Paris (my new favorite place in the world), they had chocolat chaud available by the carton, right next to the regular milk and cream, and it was actually quite good both hot and cold. Not quite up to Angelina’s standards, of course, but still miles better than normal chocolate milk.