If you’ve never had Italian hot chocolate, you’re missing out. This is the thicker, richer, and more decadent counterpart to the stuff that comes out of a can. Treat yourself to this fancy, cold-weather treat. You deserve it!
What is Italian Hot Chocolate?
Italian hot chocolate — also called Ciccolata Calda — is rick, thick, and decadent. It has an almost pudding-like consistency and big, bold chocolate flavor. And it’s nothing like that dried stuff you mix with warm water or milk.
It’s made with just four simple ingredients and takes less than 5 minutes to mix up on your stove. It will warm you from head to toe and make you smile wider with every sip.
To get that rich flavor, be sure to use the highest quality chocolate you can find. It truly does make a difference. I used Scharffen Berger 70% Cacao Bittersweet Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate, for what it’s worth.
How To Make the Best Italian Hot Chocolate at Home
I am revisiting a post I did way back when I was still knee-deep in learning about this who blogging thing. And I’m calling a mulligan on this one.
Yes, I’m talking about Italian hot chocolate, which just so happens to be my favorite cold weather drink. In my not-so-humble opinion, it’s the best hot chocolate in the world. And I think once you’ve tasted it, it’ll be your favorite, too.
If you’ve been making something from a packet — and it’s okay if you have — you just didn’t know any better. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Ditch the powdered stuff and make this instead. It’s well worth the work, and you’ll never look back.
How to Make Whipped Cream Hearts
If you want to make it extra special, add a few whipped cream hearts. Trust me. You won’t regret it.
And it’s simpler to do than you might think. Just follow these simple steps:
- Spread whipped cream into a baking pan and freeze.
- When solid, use a cookie cutter to cut into the desired shape. I like hearts so hearts it was. It would be cute to use seasonal cookie cutters, as well, around the holidays.
- Place atop your mug of Italian hot chocolate and enjoy while it melts! A dusting of powdered sugar would also be divine.
Italian Hot Chocolate — The Perfect Cold Weather Treat
The next time the weather dips and you need to be warmed up, or if you’re just craving something chocolatey and sippable, I hope you’ll try a cup of this hot chocolate recipe. Enjoy!
Italian Hot Chocolate Recipe
How to Make Italian Hot Chocolate
This thick, creamy, and decadent Italian hot chocolate is a fancier version of the classic cold-weather treat that comes out of a packet.
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate 70% or higher
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- Into a saucepan over LOW heat add chocolate and a smidge of milk. Stir with a wooden spoon until melted.
- Slowly add remaining milk until it’s well-combined. Add sugar. Mix to combine. Whisk in corn starch.
- Continue cooking over LOW heat until it becomes thick and creamy, and coats the back of the wooden spoon.
- Pour into the mug of your choice and enjoy!
This may not be as sweet as you're used to in a hot chocolate. You can tailor the sweetness by adding additional sugar to taste.
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More Cold Weather Recipes To Try
If you’ve enjoyed this Italian Hot Chocolate recipe, you’ll love these other recipes that are perfect for sweater weather:
- Nutella Eggnog
- Slow Cooker Mulled Cranberry Punch
- Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
- Holiday Simmer Pot
- Momma’s Apple Pie
It makes our day when you recreate any of our recipes. If you do, please consider leaving a star rating on this recipe, take a photo and TAG me on Instagram with #bellalimento. We would love to see them!
And make sure you follow bell’alimento on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, too!
Kim - Liv Life says
My daughter adores hot chocolate. Unfortunately, she has recently begun dealing with a few lactose issues and has had to cut waaay back on milk, and in her mind there just is NO substitute for a nice steamy cup of hot chocolate. Hence… the lactose enzyme pills get a work out and she still has a cup now and then. I will print this for her, and I’m certain the whipped cream hearts will be a part of it too! Nicely done!
I’m lactose intolerant too. Just get lactose free milk. I actually like the Food Lion or Walmart brand better than name brand Lactaid. Breyers also make a lactose free vanilla ice cream that tastes no different than regular. That way I don’t have to worry about the pills, which I do use when I eat out.
I’d also recommend a good quality soy milk such as bonsoy… I think the creaminess and nutiness actually makes for a better hot chocolate than regular milk!
Melissa Cohen says
My son is allergic to milk- here is what we do- combine whatever milk substitiute you like ( Almond, Soy….) with some canned coconut milk- ( not the box kind found in refrig section of Whole Foods)
Coconut milk fat has the same mouth feel as dairy fat- plus the slight coconut flavor in the milk adds to the chocolate
Yum!- We use a couple of TABLESPoONS of the full fat kind- freeze the leftovers- But the light version would work as well- If you like that-Home made Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream is to die for as well!
Chickie Kat says
Coconut milk is fantastic for this (especially for those with dairy and soy allergies)! I simply use the canned kind; it just requires a quick stir and it is great every time 🙂
maybe this will help and for others who are lactose intolerant , for many years i also had to drink lactaid,
take tons of lactose enzyme pills an time i ate cheese or ice cream, [ and beano or say yes to beans for many vegetables besides for beans ]but … i discovered that i can drink raw milk with no problem[ organic only] becuase raw milk still conatins the lactose enzyme]
and .. since ive been eating 100% organic [ no GMOS no glyphosate sprayed wheat , oats etc ]
now i can also eat any cheese adn ice cream with no problem and beans and all vegetabels [ as long as evrerything is orgnaic ]
sorry thats’ raw milk still contains the lactase enzyme ‘
May I ask where you purchase your “RAW MILK “? I live in Arizona, cannot seem to find any… due to regulations?
There are companies that filter out lactose from milk. This is a great substitute when baking as you can get lactose free whipping cream, butter, 10%cream or regular milk as well.
Angie McGowan says
This looks so good! Can you send over a cup, pretty please?!?!?!
Jodi@garlic girl says
I’m glad I saw this – I’m thinking this is the way my favorite cafe in Santa Cruz called Chocolate makes their hot chocolate. I’m going to try this over the weekend for sure.
The folks in Santa Cruz use tapioca flour to thicken it, I believe, since I asked years ago and someone told me! That is what I use, and serve it in beautiful little demitasse cups with dessert after a fabulous Italian meal. It is so rich, the smaller quantity seems to work well…meaning I get the left overs!
Oh, gosh, Paula, your hot chocolate looks AMAZING! Gorgeous photos~
Bev Weidner says
Yes, yes YES. Yes, yes.
I’ll what you’re having 🙂
mmm…yes, please! beautiful!
the only way to make hot chocolate! 🙂
this looks so good!!! i love hot chocolate
Is that a heart marshmallow on top? Did
You make that too?
Hi Christina, Those are whipped cream hearts and yes I made them : ) You can find my how to post on those here: http://blogs.babble.com/family-kitchen/2012/01/11/how-to-make-whipped-cream-hearts/
Cool! I definitely want to try that.
Love this, Paula!!
I love it I never tried Italian Hot Chocolate before I tried Mexican Hot Chocolate and I love it but now I will try this one, thank you 🙂
Melissa // thefauxmartha says
I wish you could see me right now. My jaw literally dropped!
Oh my. I NEED! I love the addition of corn starch to thicken it up. It looks positively sinful!
I’m coming right over. You *do* know I have a hot chocolate addiction, right? And I agree, Ciccolata Calda is the absolutely best. Hands down.
Fuji Mama says
This just makes me happy!!! The original post is what really made us friends, wouldn’t you say? Plus, I can vouch for how amazingly good this is. Swoon!!!
Lovely! Perfect for winter 🙂
Paula, it turned colder here overnight and this was a “heart-warming” sight to wake up to! (Thank you for the link to your whipped cream hearts, too.) I’m usually a coffee drinker in the a.m. but you’re causing me to seriously reconsider…
My cup would look like that last one – empty! This is what I love about winter – hot chocolate!
Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch says
I am definitely going to have to try this soon! It look out of this world delicious!
Alison @ Ingredients, INc. says
love this one!
Brian @ A Thought For Food says
I have fallen head over heels in love with that whipped cream! How brilliant it is!
Lora @cakeduchess says
I want a cup right now for dessert:)Will go check out the pretty whipped cream hearts…mi piace!!!xx
I would need to make a double batch just for myself…no..a triple batch.
Tickled Red says
As you know it’s bloody cold today! What’s up with that? Oh well, it gives me an excuse to make this 😀 MmmmMmmm
Mon Sun C says
Wow this looks amazing and love the whipped cream hearts. That is so sweet and complements very well.
Oh my dear you have hit on something here. When we lived in La Maddalena, Sardegna we would go to the piazza in the town and went to a favorite coffee bar that served this type of beverage to the young ones. I fell in love with it. Thank you for providing this.
Lynn @ Order in the Kitchen says
oh em gee Paula! This looks so so yummy! your pictures are spectacular! Love this! pinning on pinterest now!!
Instead of Milk you could possibly substitute with Almond milk or soy milk. My son is allergic to ALL dairy AND soy, so even the lactose free milk doesn’t work for us. I have done similar recipes with almond milk for my son and it worked perfectly.
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Pudding-like hot chocolate sounds absolutely fabulous; I can’t wait to try it!
This is one of the things I miss most about Italy! I made it tonight & it’s delicious. I’d like it to be a touch thicker but I used skim milk & that’s probably why. A perfect treat for a cold night. Thanks for sharing!!
I tried the recipe, awesome. I used cadbury dark choclate. I didn’t used corn starch and I believe we don’t even need that. Just follow the recipe without corn starch and you will love that. From now own I will make my own italian hot choclate…bye bye…cafe…And thanks to paula…
Oh my goodnesss…
This is the most insanely delectable hot chocolate I have tasted.
2 thumbs up…
Love this! I totally wish I had a cup right now! Love those hearts, too!
Delicious! I can’t wait to try this 😀
I have just got home from a trip to Rome and stumbled upon Italian hot chocolate – I am not a massive fan of hot drinks but their hot chocolate is absolutely amazing (as well as their ice cream). I am definitely going to try this recipe, thank you for sharing.
Melissa Bihl says
I traveled to Italy on three separate occasions and their hot chocolate rivals any! I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thank you for sharing!
I just made this and it is EXACTLY how my local italian coffee house serves it! I used half the quantities and used cornflour [which I think is the UK version of corn starch?] and, although it took about 20 minutes to thicken, it was was well worth the effort.
I’ll be making this for my nephew over Christmas! Thank you so much for posting the recipe.
I just made this using Nestle Le Chocolat, which is 98% chocolate. Delicious, I Haven’t had better even in Milan.
Haiku House says
This looks & sounds amazing. It’s pretty hot right now in Florida but I’m bookmarking this for winter!!
Would love for you to check out today’s ‘Flat White: Espresso & Milk’ post over at Haiku House.
Have a wonderful day!
Actually that’s Spanish Hot Chocolate. In Spain chocolate is thick, to dip churros or buñuelos in it.
It doesn’t thicken very well for me. I’ve whisked for ten minutes and still doesn’t thicken. Does 2% and whole milk differ that much for this recipe?
Hi Kali, I’ve not tried it with 2%, try increasing the heat and stirring until it thickens. Hope that helps.
I’m lactose intolerant too. The best hot cocoa I’ve made is with goat milk, believe it or not. It was creamy and tangy. Give it a try.
Jill Roberts @ WellnessGeeky says
Awesomeness Italian Hot Chocolate recipe! I’ll definitely try it, but instead of 2 tablespoons sugar i’ll add honey! I found your post from Pinterest, Paula! Thanks for sharing!
Bella Hardy says
I’d love to make this Italian Hot Chocolate for my husband in morning! Thanks, Paula for sharing.
The first time I had this confection (addiction) was in Firenze in 1995. It was love at first taste! Does this make one cup? Is there a way to make this for several? Thank you for posting!
Hi Cara – It makes two small cups and you can definitely double the recipe if needed. Enjoy.
Kara Mathys @Wellnessgrit says
My husband LOVES this Italian hot chocolate. Even I enjoy it, and I am not a big fan of chocolate!
Yay! So glad to hear that Kara.
The Fine Artisan Dark Chocolate you used is sure to have amazing results. I just pinned it to try soon. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Thanks Scarlet! Enjoy.
I have been looking for a recipe that produces this result of drink for literally YEARS. Every recipe insists that using thick, heavy cream is the answer— I don’t mind calories if I’m splurging on something really nice, but all the cream ever got me was a gross film on top of the drink from the fat content. Turns out, the key to avoiding that is the cornstarch! Absolutely brilliant, and this drink is my go-to when I am craving chocolate badly. BLESS YOU for this!!
So glad you enjoyed it Lindsey. Thanks for sharing your results.
Lisa Edwina says
i love chocolate coffee with friends.i will made it home.thanks for sharing post
Health and Beauty Facts says
I have read many blogs in the net but have never come across such a well written blog. Good work keep it up
This is great article and so helpful.