My Favorite Hot Chocolate Base

When I'm in Paris during cold winter months, a stop at La Maison du Chocolat for a cup of their decadent house-made hot chocolate is always at the top of my list. They even have a selection of several exquisite single-origin dark chocolates for making my cup.

An amazing hot chocolate is so simple, and super easy to adapt to your own tastes. All you need is a perfect base from which to begin (and that includes an excellent chocolate, of course) -- and you'll find that recipe below.

A great tip? Throw in a tiny pinch of sea salt. In no time you'll have a hot chocolate recipe that's perfect for you, and one you can whip up in minutes.


Zach’s Favorite Hot Chocolate Base Recipe

  • 1 cup (232 g) heavy cream or whole milk, plus more for finishing

  • 4 Tbsp (50 g) water

  • 4 Tbsp (50 g) granulated sugar (or try light muscovado)

  • 8 oz (227 g) Valrhona 55% dark chocolate (or similar premium dark chocolate between 53% and 55% cacao), chopped

Bring the cream, water, and sugar just to a boil (bubbles will just begin to form under the surface and around the edge), stirring to dissolve the sugar as the mixture is heating.

Immediately remove the pan from the heat, add the chopped chocolate, and stir until smooth.

Add more liquid (water, milk, or cream) a little at a time until you reach the texture and richness you prefer as a sipping chocolate. If desired, stir in a pinch of any your favorite freshly ground spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, chile powder, etc. Pour into your favorite mug, add a dollop of hand-whipped cream*, and a light dusting of spice. (Oh, and on a particularly cold night, a shot of Cognac.)

*For perfect hand-whipped cream, pour chilled heavy cream into a chilled mixing bowl. Add 1 1/2 tbsp of sugar, 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract, and 1 tbsp Cognac (optional). Beat vigorously back and forth (not circular) in the bowl for several minutes until whipped to slightly stiff peaks. Takes some effort, but so worth it!