I’m taking a break from my daily coffee routine. I’m fixing myself a classic European breakfast chocolate. It’s incredibly rich and sophisticated thanks to the high cacao bittersweet chocolate I’m using, and incredibly thick and frothy thanks to my French press.
My oldest daughter and I have been on the quest for the secret to a thick homemade drinking chocolate for a couple of years now. If you’ve ever had drinking chocolate from one of those super fancy chocolate shops you’ll know what I’m talking about. This is the kind of hot chocolate so thick and rich that you’d swear it was made with pure heavy cream. But it’s not. With this simple technique, you can even use low fat or skim milk!
There are two keys to the puzzle. The key to the decadent chocolate flavor is that you use actual chocolate, not cocoa powder. I discovered this technique when I used my food processor to chop chocolate for truffles. I let the machine run a little longer than necessary and I ended up with a fine powder. With the chocolate ground so fine it melts easily into the hot milk—no need for a saucepan on the stove. This process also allows you to store the chocolate in a convenient jar all ready to go for your next batch.
The key to the unbelievable thickness of this hot chocolate is the frothing. The French press makes the perfect easy frother. The milk almost doubles in volume as you pump the press up and down vigorously for about a minute. You’re arm will get a good workout and you’ll get impossibly thick luxurious cocoa. Maybe that’s how the French stay so svelte.
You’ll get plenty of antioxidants from the dark chocolate, and calcium from the milk. No added sugar, whipped cream, or marshmallows necessary. This is what Europeans have been drinking for breakfast for generations. It’s truly a wonderful way to start a January morning.
Grinding 10 oz of good quality dark chocolate will yield you a nice jar of ready to use instant hot chocolate mix. I layer mine with leftover vanilla bean pods for extra flavor. If you can’t quite give up your morning coffee, add a little espresso powder to the hot milk. If you want an even more decadent chocolate drink, add more chocolate.
Breakfast Drinking Chocolate
makes 1 large or 2 small cups
10 oz good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate, cut in rough chunks
leftover vanilla bean pods (optional)
- Put the chocolate in the bowl of a food processor. Make sure the bowl is completely dry. Process until the chocolate is finely ground. You want a coarse granular texture. Stop if the chocolate starts to clump together and release its oil.
- Let the chocolate dry at room temperature for several hours. Then process again briefly. The chocolate will have lightened in color.
- Store the chocolate in a mason type jar with a tight fitting lid. If you are using the vanilla bean pods, layer them in as you fill the jar.
1 cup (8 oz) milk
1/4 tsp espresso powder (optional)
- Put 4 Tbsp of the chocolate powder in the bottom of the French press. Add in the espresso powder, if using.
- Put the milk in a quart sized Pyrex measuring cup. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, until it just comes to a boil. You can do this on the stove if you want to.
- Pour the scalding hot milk over the chocolate and put the plunger top on the pot, but don’t depress it yet.
- Let the milk sit for 2 minutes.
- Then plunge vigorously for 1 minute to froth the hot chocolate. It will increase in volume. Do this on a steady surface.
- Pour into 1 large or 2 small cups and enjoy!