Italian Hot Chocolate (Cioccolato Caldo)


Now, I’m not Italian, but when Google tells me that the Italian phrase for hot chocolate is Ciccolato Caldo, I believe it. It sure feels Italian, anyway. This isn’t just a normal hot chocolate, though. If you want a thin, warm chocolate milk, you can check out my recipe for that over here. It’s delicious — I make it all the time — but it’s not quite the same as what I have for you here today.

Today, I have Italian drinking chocolate. Like hot chocolate, this is a hot, rich beverage made of chocolate. Unlike hot chocolate, this is much thicker, much richer, much heavier, and so decadent you’ll feel like you should be gazing out over an exotic countryside while you sip it.

What Makes a Good Italian Hot Chocolate?

Italian hot chocolate is a lot like normal hot chocolate, except it’s a bit more intensive to make, a lot thicker, and only uses five ingredients. Because of that, you really benefit from using high quality ingredients at each step. Here are the five:

  • Chocolate. You want a good quality, rich dark chocolate. Remember that you’re adding milk here so you can go a little darker than you might normally enjoy. I like 60-70% dark. You can also make your drinking chocolate take a whole new dimension by using fruit or mint-infused chocolates, too.
  • Milk. We use whole milk, but you can absolutely get away with 2% or even skim, if you want a thinner drink with a smidge less body to it. It’ll be thick and heavy either way.
  • Cocoa Powder. Again, a good-quality cocoa powder is ideal here. You can use whatever you like, but the nicer it is, the less of an acrid taste you’ll get in the final product.
  • Sugar. Technically, you can use whatever you like to sweeten your hot chocolate, but sugar works the best in my opinion. Other sweeteners bring flavors of their own, which can interfere with the pure chocolate goodness.
  • Corn Starch. Quality isn’t terribly important for this one. You only use a little of this and you do it to adjust the thickness of the drink to suit your tastes. Remember that it will thicken up more as it cools, so keep that in mind.

As an American, I like to put marshmallows on top of my hot cocoa, but this really benefits from something like fresh whipped cream instead. Really, though, you can top it however you like; it’s the drink itself that stars here.

If you want to jazz up your drinking chocolate a little, you can also add a pinch of cayenne, some cinnamon and nutmeg, or whatever your favorite pie spice mix may be. Extracts like mint and orange work great as well, and vanilla can add a whole new dimension to the drink. Some people also like adding things like rum or brandy, but since I can’t do alcohol, I can’t vouch for them.

Italian Drinking Chocolate

A fairly traditional Cioccolato Caldo, or drinking chocolate, based on an Italian recipe. Quick, easy to make, and extremely rich and decadent, this recipe goes great on a cold winter day.
Servings 2 Mugs
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • Sauce Pan
  • Whisk


  • 7 Oz. High-Quality Dark Chocolate Chopped.
  • 4 Tbsp Sugar
  • 5 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 2 Tbsp Corn Starch


  • In a small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup of milk and the corn starch, and set aside.
  • In another bowl, sift together the cocoa powder and sugar.
  • In a sauce pan, heat the remaining milk until it starts to simmer.
  • Add in the corn starch mixture and whisk. Then, add in the cocoa powder and sugar mix and stir until smooth.
  • Add in your chopped chocolate and stir for a few minutes while it melts.
  • Once hot and melted, carefully pour your chocolate into mugs. Top with whatever you like, and enjoy while it's warm!
Course: Dessert, Drinks
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Chocolate

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