Cioccolata Calda {Hot Chocolate}


Ah, just the thought of Cioccolata Calda sends me into a frenzy! Chi-o-co-la-ta Call-da is Italian for Hot Chocolate. I’m going to attempt to describe this to those of you who have not experienced an authentic Italian Hot Chocolate. Which, btw is the BEST hot chocolate in the entire world. Don’t even try to change my mind. It simply is. If you’ve had it, you KNOW! Can I get an Amen?

This IS NOT Swiss Miss hot chocolate (which btw is NOT hot chocolate). Not by a long shot. Italian Cioccolata Calda Is a cup of thick, delicious, creamy, pudding like consistency, hot chocolaty goodness! Just wait, you’ll see…It’s so thick it will stick to the sides of your cup (see that photo? normally that would freak me out having that on the sides of the cup in a regular photo but I wanted to show you how THICK indeed this is) You’re not going to be able to drink a HUGE mug of this so don’t even try. Trust me. It’s great with a dollop of fresh whipped cream (I just didn’t have any in the house otherwise, there’d be some in that cup ; )

Every time I’m in Italy I HAVE to have a cup of this. I don’t care what the season I’m having it. Like gelato I’m eating that when it’s cold as well. But that’s another story.

Just so you’re not surprised when you taste this, Italians don’t typically have the sweet tooth that Americans do so this might not be as “sweet” as you’d like it to be. But it’s the way it’s supposed to be so resist the urge to add more sugar. Please be sure to use a good quality chocolate. The best you can find. The higher the cacao % the better. Just sayin’

Baci e Buone Feste!


Cioccolata Calda {Hot Chocolate}
What you’ll need:
100g Good Quality Bittersweet Chocolate 70% or higher
1 1/2 cups Whole Milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Corn Starch

What to do:
1. Into a saucepan over LOW heat add chocolate and a smidge of milk.  Stir with a wooden spoon until melted.

2. SLOWLY add in the milk until it’s well combined. Add sugar. Mix well. Whisk in corn starch. Continue cooking over LOW heat until it becomes thick and creamy and coats the back of the wooden spoon.

Optional: You can top with fresh whipped cream, a dash of cinnamon or even a dash of chili powder (if you’re adventurous)

Buon Appetito!


  1. 1

    Goodness. That looks like warm chocolate syrup. Drinking syrup. Yummy tummy warming and mind blowing chocolate syrup. That thud you just heard was me. Fainting.

    • 1.1

      Thanks Heather! I think I like your description better ! I’m stealing it ; ) tee hee

  2. 2
    Mylynka /

    Ho-leeee Cows! Paula I love, love, LOVE this drink and have never know how to make it! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

    I cannot wait to try this while I am on break from school.

    • 2.1

      Ciao Mylynka! Di’ niente ; ) Yes, I’m CRAZY about it too! Just remember to get the BEST chocolate, it will make a difference! Baci’ e’ Buone Feste!

  3. 3

    Oh goodness, you speak my language!! I. Love. My. Chocolate. Especially if it’s not sicky sweet like Americans like it. Blech. I HAVE to try this!!!! XOXO You’re the best!

    • 3.1

      Ciao Rachael! I knew I liked you ; ) I know, I had to note that it wasn’t going to be as “sweet” as people might imagine, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I seriously can’t get enough of Cioccolata Calda. It’s a smile in a cup!

  4. 4

    Wow. Wow. Just wow. This looks fantastic.

  5. 6

    This looks heavenly, Paula. Totally agree that Swiss Miss, et al is not real hot chocolate! If you’re ever in Chicago, there’s a restaurant (appropriately called Hot Chocolate) that does real hot chocolate. I’ve never been to Italy so I can’t comment on how it compares to Cioccolata Calda, but it is quite fabulous!

    • 6.1

      Hi Jen! Thanks so much! You know, I’ve never actually been to Chicago! It’s someplace I do want to get to & when I do, I’ll definitely have to try it! I’m sure it’s delicious!

  6. 7
    SusanD /

    I see it as a rich dark luscious velvety pool of instant nirvana. All prayers are answered upon first sip!!! Miraculous!

    • 7.1

      Ciao Susan! WOW, I’m liking that description too! Y’all are good!

  7. 8

    Wish I had a cup of this right now.

  8. 9
    Mylynka /

    Oh I am all about the BEST chocolate! I am thinking Valhrona or Scharffenberger! Which are two of my splurge-faves. I use Valhrona for the groom’s cakes when I do weddings… mmmmmmmmmm

    I want this now! 😉

  9. 10
    Deborah /

    Oh my Paula…..that looks exactly like what we had in Venice! I can’t wait to try it out on Michael! Thanks so much for sharing this!

  10. 11
    kiss my spatula /

    i’m so thirsty now…how perfect!! happy holidays!

  11. 12

    Thanks for posting this recipe, Paula! I get a cup every morning when we are in Italy, and stroll around drinking it as we sightsee. SO delicious! There is even a picture of me in Rome, in front of a fountain, drinking it, and even from a distance you can see it sticking to the cup!!

    Thanks again, And Buon Natale!

    • 12.1

      Grazie Susan! There’s just simply nothing like it! The thicker the bettah! Buon Natale a te!

  12. 13

    Wowow this sounds amazing! I love the fact that it is very thick 🙂

  13. 14
    Amy B.- Portland, OR /

    Buon Natale Paula! mmmm……

  14. 15

    wonderful wonderful recipe! i’ve been looking for a hot cocoa recipe using real chocolate. is this just for one serving?

    • 15.1

      Thanks Dina! This will actually make 4 small cups of Cioccolata Calda. It’s really thick & decadent!

  15. 16

    So simple so good… mmmm!

  16. 17
    romy /

    i did it today and it tasted really good!
    thanks 🙂

    • 17.1

      Yay Romy! So glad you liked it! There really is nothing like a good authentic cup of hot chocolate!

  17. 18
    Justine /

    my father, who was from Spain, used to make me this when I was a child … thanks for bringing me some wonderful memories!

    • 18.1

      Ah, you’re quite welcome Justine! Glad I could bring back some warm memories : ) Happy New Year!

  18. 19
    Audra /

    I added a little Bailey’s to mine – yummmmmmm!

  19. 20
    Venera /

    Grazie Paula. Actually, I have never tried adding the cornstarch; so mine has not come out as thick as yours. I will try making it your way….maybe I won’t drink as much (smile)!

    Buon Capodanno


  20. 21
    Samantha (Australia) /

    I too had this similar hot chocolate, a very,very long time ago (over 19 years) at someone’s funeral (God Bless his soul), and I have never forgotten the taste of it. I will go home tonight and make it for my kids. Thank you.

  21. 22
    Elisabeth /

    I will say “Amen” to this indeed. I will always remember those mornings in Italy at hostels where they only give you a choice of coffee or hot chocolate. Me, being the American, asked nicely if they had any orange juice, and of course I got a weird look and they repeated the options. Oh, glorious glorious cup of deliciousness. I’ve been trying to recapture that experience and of course your recipe is indeed close. I’ve used arrowroot also, with half ‘n half (ooh, isn’t that terrible 😉 Now only if you could bring me Italia back too…

  22. 23
    rita /

    hi! i just found your blog looking for, specifically, a good recipe for Cioccolata Calda. we’re americans, now living in Germany – visit Italy, at least, 3-4 times a year. in fact, we’ll be there next week! i fully understand the love you have for Italy. we feel the same way.

    anyhoodles, thanks so much for sharing this recipe. i just made this – yes, this is as authentic as it can get. grazie mille e buona giornata!

  23. 24

    I’ve been looking for the right recipe for this and yours was spot on, perfect!

    Thankyou so much, you’ve made my day!

  24. 25
    alicia dwyer /

    I can not tell you how excited I am to try this recipe. I spent the summer in Tuscany and stumbled upon this delicous mousse like hot chocolate. I am going to try this and hope that is what i am anticipating. Can you reccomend a chocolate that I could buy that would simulate a :real: itailian hot chocolate? Is there a prepackage hot chocolate that i could buy from Italy?

  25. 26

    So perfect for a cold day. I find a lot of sweets too sweet, so this is perfection in a cup.

  26. 27

    Oh, now this is a satisfying hot chocolate!

  27. 28

    I want a big mug of this and I am not sharing!

  28. 29

    oh god Paula – haven’t seen this since i was in Rome in ’96 – SWOON!! have always wanted to replicate it at home but couldn’t figure out the cornstarch component. FAB-YOU-LESS!!!

  29. 30

    Now this is the sort of hot chocolate that I need in my world – I would never consider Swiss Miss “chocolate” at all….xo

  30. 31

    Oh my goodness! I’m so glad I found this! My husband and I went to Italy on our honeymoon in 2006 and had this hot chocolate in a small cafe in Venice. I asked how they made it and since then have forgotten. Now… I can totally re-create the best hot chocolate we’ve ever had!! Thanks!!

  31. 32
    Minx /

    Was verry yum! OMG rich, and I could only have a small cup but it was very good and definitely a treat! ^_^

  32. 33
    Daniel /

    I tried this particular recipe tonight, and i must say i thought it failed, because it was THAT thick, but remembered what i actually had in the south of Italy was of roughly the same consistency.

    Although i must say i used the quantities mentioned above which made at least one large mug. I got through it, but i had to drink some water at the end! Very very rich.

    Nice one!

  33. 34
    Barbara /

    This is very much like I make ciccolata calda.

    I had the MOST delightful ciccolata calda across from the Pitti Palace in Firenze several years ago that sent me on a quest to learn how to make what I consider REAL hot chocolate.

    Apparently during the summer months, the place across from the Pitti Palace serve gelati, and in fall and winter they serve ciccolata calda…about 30 different kinds! What a treat!

    The only REAL difference between my recipe and yours is to add a splash of Frangelico, Amaretto, Rum, Gran Marnier, Vin Santo, or other extracts. Of course, serve with biscotti or cantuccini for an extra special treat! It’s summer, around 90 degrees out right now in Denver, and I just finished a heavenly, decadent cup! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  34. 35

    Hello! May I post this recipe on my hot chocolate bliss blog? So yummy! And we sell a delicious cocoa that is perfect for this recipe.



  35. 36

    I just came back from Italy and I can vouch for your opinion that this is the best hot chocolate on the planet. Every morning we would go to a pastry shop in San Gimignano and have a chocolate croissant and a cup of cioccolata calda for breakfast. I will never drink Nestle’s or Swiss MIss again. I’m trying your recipe so I can be reminded of my wonderful trip to Italy.

  36. 37

    Oh yes, there’s NOTHING like the real thing—you’ll know once you’ve had it. I’m wondering what could be substituted in this recipe for the corn starch? xSparky

  37. 38

    I absolutely LOVE cioccolata calda. I lived in Italy for 3 years and just returned to the states April 2011 and each time we were out at a coffee shop I’d always order a cappuccino and cioccolata calda. American hot chocolate has NOTHING on Italy’s. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  38. 39
    chellleigh /

    thank you for posting this!! I went to northern italy when i was a teenager and we stayed with family. In the morning i would have a chocolatey thick kind of hot drink with pastry cookies. I have been craving it ever since, I tried other kinds of drinks, but nothing compared to it! I stumbled upon your site, and I am sure that is it!!! thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!now if only you could tell me about those cookies?

  39. 40
    dianne /

    What are some brands of good chocolate to use and where to buy them.Thank you.

  40. 41
    Libby /

    since i am lactose intolerant, i usually use soy milk instead of regular milk. do you think that would make a difference

  41. 42
    Ellen /

    I’m sure this is completely delicious but I just returned from Italy where it was almost impossible to get good hot chocolate… And as far as Italians and sweets…. Every other shop was a bakery or gelato shop. Chocolate, cookies… Sweets everywhere!! Spain is the place for hot chocolate. Chocolate Y churros! Churros don’t have sugar on them. Amazing.

  42. 43
    Zeynep /

    When you add corn starch to the boiling milk+chocolate,it lumps.You need to add a little water to the corn starch at a time as you stir, not the corn starch to the water. I’d be glad if you gave this little tip.


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