French Press Breakfast Chocolate ~ this easy method makes a thick, rich, frothed hot chocolate just like the Europeans enjoy!

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.

French Press Breakfast Chocolate

Yield: makes 1 large or 2 smaller cups


  • 10 oz good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate, cut in rough chunks
  • leftover vanilla bean pods (optional)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) milk
  • 1/4 tsp espresso powder (optional)


  1. 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.
  2. Let the chocolate dry at room temperature for several hours. Then process again briefly. The chocolate will have lightened in color.
  3. 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.
  4. Put 4 Tbsp of the chocolate powder in the bottom of the French press. Add in the espresso powder, if using.
  5. 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.
  6. Pour the scalding hot milk over the chocolate and put the plunger top on the pot, but don't depress it yet.
  7. Let the milk sit for 2 minutes.
  8. Then plunge vigorously for 1 minute to froth the hot chocolate. It will increase in volume. Do this on a steady surface.
  9. Pour into 1 large or 2 small cups and enjoy!


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42 Responses to French Press Breakfast Chocolate

  1. Martha Brown says:

    Thank you for the easy & yummy recipe for your french press chocolate. I’m in love with your adorable little bird cups! Could you please tell me where you got them?


  2. Linda says:

    Looks delicious! Do you think almond milk would produce the same result?

  3. […] Sue from The View From Great Island is making hot chocolate in her french press.  Her tip – she uses actual chocolate, not chocolate […]

  4. […] and the snow my entire life I know something about cold comforts; warm and frothy hot chocolate (here is the perfect drinking chocolate recipe), warm as can be mukluks, and a stack of good books to take my mind to somewhere a little more […]

  5. […] "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."  […]

  6. Amy L says:

    Thanks for sharing! I wish the weather would turn cooler so I could make some :)

  7. Christina says:

    I LOVE everything about this post! Simplicity, quality, flavor and even a gift idea! I adore Perugina cocoa, but it’s so hard to find in the US (at a reasonable price) so I often make cocoa with good quality chocolate, but love the idea of processing it to bits! Don’t know if you’ve ever had the super thick hot chocolate in Italian bars, but I posted a copycat recipe on my blog. Check it out, but you may want to wait until this heatwave dies off! Ugh!

  8. city says:

    thanks for share....

  9. annie says:

    mmmmmm….just made this for the second time in 2 days! It’s so good on a cold afternoon! btw….did you change your options for leaving a comment recently?

  10. I will never make hot chocolate without a French press again! This is SUCH a great trick!!!

  11. Oh … yum! This sounds just fantastic! I am not normally a fan of the French press, but …

  12. I have always loved my french press and now I love it even more! Thanks for sharing!

  13. first, those are the prettiest bird cups on the face of the earth. i adore them. second, obviously i need a french press; it’s one of those things we’ve talked about getting, and then i just think it’ll take up too much room, and do i NEED it…well. now i need it, thanks to this. :)

  14. Hungry Dog says:

    What a great idea! We need to put our French press to use…perhaps this weekend we’ll give this a try. Thanks, Sue!

  15. Magnolia Verandah says:

    Oh my goodness what a treat and so easy – thank you.

  16. Joy Bee says:

    Wow. I don’t think I ever want to use store bought cocoa mix again. This sounds amazing and it’s so simple. I almost wish for cold weather to try this (not really though I love my Hawaiian climate, but when I go visit family on the mainland I will remember this recipe).

  17. That looks so rich and frothy – love it! I’ve never thought to use my French press for anything other than tea and coffee :)

  18. thyme Sarah says:

    That really looks incredible. I remember going to Spain and anticipating the hot chocolate with the churros. We hit a cute but really bad spot. The hot chocolate was like pudding and really awful. I’ve always regretted not finding a place that served a better drink. I wonder if your method is what they do in France when they make hot chocolate. Oh, how I would love to have a taste…

    • One of my all time top foodie memories is dunking churros into thick hot chocolate. I think they thicken the chocolate with cornstarch, and I actually have a couple of other hot chocolate posts on the blog for thick hot chocolate. I can go either way, as long as the chocolate is good!

  19. I love the French press idea. I can almost taste the velvet chocolate.

  20. Yasmeen says:

    What a great idea, Sue! Lately I’ve been drinking my Turkish coffees, so the French press hasn’t been getting much of a workout. Until now!

  21. Eileen says:

    Wow, I would never have thought to use our French press for chocolate! What an interesting idea–and obviously one with a more-than-worthwhile result. :)

  22. Sue,
    I can hardly wait to get to Trader Joe’s for the ingredients tomorrow morning…do you have a specific brand that you like? This looks so good I had to pin it to two boards.
    Your photos…GORGEOUS! Love the one as you are pouring it into the cup!

    • Thanks Annie. I use different chocolates, I like trying new brands when I see them. This time I had a bar of Scharffen Berger, which was a splurge, but I think truly any dark chocolate would be fine. I know so many people who won’t use anything but TJs brand.

  23. Oh, this sounds so decadent. Reminds me of the amazing hot chocolate I had in Paris several years ago. And your croissants in the background are the perfect accompaniment. Thanks for bringing back good memories and sharing a great recipe.

  24. Best idea ever to dust off a french press for! I love hot chocolate and try to take a break from coffee and this would be a welcome break! And that froth…YES! love frothy drinks so much! The taste improves hugely on any drink with some foam and froth, I’m convinced! :)

  25. bellini says:

    I have just added a French press to my list of things I must have!!!

  26. Mary Younkin says:

    I have a french press just for frothing milk too. It works beautifully. I can’t believe that you drink this without any sugar at all. I’m going to give it a shot. I didn’t realize you could make reduce regular chocolate into a powder like that. I missed that in your truffle post!

    • Well, don’t forget that the dark chocolate has some sugar in it. It’s just not super sweet. I love what happens to the chocolate in the processor, it’s not quite a powder, but like little granules. Very cool. I’m going to let it go even further next time and see what happens…

  27. I have a recipe for a super thick hot chocolate on my blog that you practically have to eat with a spoon. It’s AMAZING…but yours sounds a wee but healthier ;)Now if only I had a french press or milk frother! :(

  28. Oh, I have to try this! It sounds so easy. And I love the idea of adding espresso powder. This just may be my new morning wake-up drink. Who wouldn’t look forward to a cup of chocolate to start the day!

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