The Ultimate Drinking Chocolate

holding a cup of drinking chocolate

A perfect cup of drinking chocolate makes frigid weather (almost) bearable. This hot chocolate recipe is thick, rich, and indulgent, made without cream or thickeners ~ bring it on, winter, we’re ready!

drinking chocolate in a small mug

drinking chocolate is turbo-charged hot chocolate!

Most hot chocolate is way too bland for me, it’s usually too thin, and lacks the rich complexity of its namesake. I crave a drinking chocolate that is basically…melted ganache in a cup!

Remember ‘Chantico’ from Starbucks? I used to love those tiny little 6-ounce cups, but apparently it was a colossal flop. People didn’t want to pay a primo price for such a diminutive drink. And then there were those pesky calories (it was the most calorie dense of any Starbucks drink.) Chantico only lasted a year before it was yanked from the menu, and I’ve been trying to replicate it ever since.

Pouring drinking chocolate into a small cup

Let’s just say I’ve made A LOT of hot chocolate, and I’ve experimented with different types of chocolate, heavy cream, evaporated milk, and all sorts of thickening agents.

In the end, what it finally comes down to is the ratio of high quality chocolate to regular milk. That’s it! Just follow this recipe to taste the result.

taking a spoonful of drinking chocolate

drinking chocolate is a once in a while indulgence

The amount of chocolate in this recipe definitely puts it squarely in decadent-territory, but don’t worry, if you’re anything like me, you won’t be tempted to drink the whole batch. It’s INTENSE, in a good way, and meant to be savored almost like a small glass of scotch whiskey or a perfectly made espresso. It’s the ideal way to cap off a meal where you want something sweet but not filling.

what you’ll need

  • chocolate ~ I used semi-sweet.
  • milk ~ plain whole milk. No heavy cream or half and half necessary!
  • salt
  • vanilla extract ~ along with the salt this helps bloom the flavor of the chocolate.
pouring drinking chocolate into small cups

how to melt chocolate and milk

If you’ve ever made homemade hot chocolate and had trouble getting the whole thing to melt cohesively, you’re not alone. Here are a few tips to help with that:

  • Chocolate that comes in bars or wafers is the easiest to melt. Chocolate chips are actually formulated to hold their shape (as in cookies) so they aren’t always the best choice.
  • If using bar chocolate, be sure to cut it into small pieces. The smaller your pieces of chocolate to start with, the quicker and more smoothly they’ll melt into your milk.
  • If you’re using wafers, which are specifically made to melt easily, there is no need to break them down into smaller pieces.
  • Even after your chocolate has melted in your milk it can remain ‘speckle-y.’ The trick is simply to heat the mixture over low/medium heat for longer than you might think. Giving the chocolate some time to fully melt makes for a smoother end result. I take about 10 minutes. I will sometimes turn the heat off and let the pot sit for a while to encourage complete melting.
a small cup of drinking chocolate with whipped cream

choosing the perfect chocolate for hot chocolate

Choose carefully because chocolate is the star in this recipe.

  • It may seem obvious, but choose a chocolate you like! Different types of chocolate as well as different brands will change the outcome in subtle ways.
  • I think semi-sweet chocolate strikes the perfect balance between sweet milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate, but all three can be used, or mixed!
  • There are all kinds of fancy single-origin chocolate bars on the market these days which would make a great cup of drinking chocolate.
making drinking chocolate

variation ideas

  • I like to let the chocolate shine and only add a pinch of salt and vanilla, but there are lots of additional flavors that play well with chocolate that you can experiment with. Try spices like cinnamon, cardamom, or ginger. Extracts like almond or peppermint also work great. Sometimes I’ll add a bit of cayenne pepper for a kick.
  • Make it an after dinner dessert cocktail by spiking your drinking chocolate with your favorite spirit. I love Amaretto, Cognac, Grand Marnier, Kahlua, or Bailey’s Irish Cream.
  • Non dairy milks like almond milk or coconut milk can be used.
  • Simply use keto friendly chocolate and heavy cream for a keto drinking chocolate.
a warming cup of rich drinking chocolate

more chocolate, please

holding a cup of drinking chocolate
5 from 1 vote

Drinking Chocolate

A perfect cup of drinking chocolate is one of the purest delights of the winter season! This hot chocolate recipe is thick, rich, and indulgent.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Calories 408kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, cut in small pieces
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  • In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the chocolate, milk, and salt.
  • Heat gently over low/medium heat for a few minutes, whisking regularly, until the chocolate is completely melted. It should be steaming, but don't let it come to a simmer. (Cooking the hot chocolate a little lower and slower helps the chocolate to fully melt rather than remain speckle-y in the milk.)
  • Off the heat, add the vanilla extract and stir.
  • Serve immediately in small cups, topped with whipped cream, if you like.


Calories: 408kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 58mg | Potassium: 485mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 226IU | Calcium: 173mg | Iron: 4mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Donna Dillon
    February 4, 2022 at 12:33 pm

    One of the best cups of hot chocolate I’ve ever had was in the Swiss alps with chocolate and full cream milk. There were dregs of chocolate in the bottom of the cup. I still remember the incredible taste of the hot chocolate while sitting at a table on the porch in the alps drinking and enjoying the view! I finally hit upon my own version that was thick, full of chocolate and oh so satisfying. I used Good Karma Flax Milk which is very thick and chocolate chips or ganache. What a treat!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2022 at 4:59 pm

    My sister and I dream of this drink, it was worth every penny and calorie!!!!

  • Reply
    December 15, 2021 at 9:32 am

    I recently made a recipe that called for sugar in it that was to sweet,this sounds delightful and no sugar!

  • Reply
    December 4, 2021 at 4:56 am

    Would love to hear what chocolate you used.

    • Reply
      December 15, 2021 at 9:29 am

      Your favorite brand of semi sweet bar as stated.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2021 at 7:26 am

    Love your cups for the chocolate. Any suggestions where to find them? Also, I want to say thank you for all the wonderful recipes (I have made a lot of them!) and blog posts. I look forward to opening and reading them.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      December 3, 2021 at 8:15 am

      I found those at Cost Plus/World Market. And thanks Memee!

  • Reply
    glennis ellen underwood
    December 3, 2021 at 7:08 am

    My lips adore you!!!!

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