This decadent, vegan-friendly Salted French Hot Chocolate (Chocolat Chaud) is made with chocolate, whole milk and cream (or coconut milk and coconut cream), and topped with flavorful gourmet salt. The salt for this recipe was provided by J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works.
It’s been “officially” fall for a few weeks now, but summer has been holding on for dear life, doing its best to make sure I stay warm for just a little while longer. I’m taking this as further proof that the universe really does revolve around me. (I’ll pause here so that you can wonder if I’m joking.) At any rate, at this point– fall has definitely arrived here in Central Appalachia. The days are still warm, but the nights are cooling down, and the leaves have started to turn. This, of course, means it’s time for cozy warm drinks– like this Salted French Hot Chocolate. This cocoa is rich– richer than your normal hot cocoa– and is made with whole milk and cream (or coconut milk and coconut cream), and lots of crushed chocolate. Top it off with some extra delicious gourmet salt, and you’re all set for those chilly fall evenings.
Of course, to make this Salted French Hot Chocolate, you need salt. If you’re reaching for a jar of iodized salt– Stop!!! (Actually, stop using that salt for cooking completely– swap it for sea salt). Traditionally, you’d use Fleur de Sel– a French finishing salt. If you’ve got that– go for it! For my hot chocolate, I’m using heirloom salt from a local salt works company– J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works. I heard about their artisan salt when I was listening to an episode of The Splendid Table about Appalachian salt. J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works hand-harvests salt from what’s left of the Iapetus Ocean– an ancient body of water that’s trapped under the Appalachian mountains. It’s a family owned business, and their salt is harvested without heavy machinery and harsh chemicals. When I heard the interview about J.Q. Dickinson, I was fascinated– both by their salt, and also because they’re only an hour away from me! Somehow, I didn’t know they existed before, but their salt is delicious, and touring their site is on my soon-to-do list.
Next, you need chocolate. French Hot Chocolate is thick and rich– if you’ve had ‘sipping chocolate,’ it’s similar. Since there are only a few ingredients– lots of chocolate, along with milk and cream (or coconut milk and coconut cream*), use the best quality chocolate and milk you can find. ** If you’re making this on a whim, or because you’re snowed in– go ahead and use those chocolate chips in the pantry. If you’re planning ahead, get some higher quality chocolate. You’ll taste the difference.
making salted french hot chocolate
To make the hot chocolate, put the milk and cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the milk starts to simmer, remove it from the heat. Add the chocolate, and stir, stir, stir! If you want your chocolate to be thicker, put it back on the burner on low heat, and stir for a few minutes. Are you making this in the morning, and want a little caffeine? Stir in a some instant espresso. If it’s evening, and you’re lounging around, reading my blog– add a little amaretto! Feeling a little crazy, and want your hot cocoa to be even richer? Stir in a spoonful of high quality cocoa powder. Sip your cocoa slowly (or chug it, you rebel), and enjoy the cooler weather!
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*Note: If you’re swapping out milk and cream for coconut milk and coconut cream, use ‘first press’ coconut milk. Sometimes you can find canned coconut cream (Trader Joe’s sells coconut cream), but if not, put a can of ‘first press’ coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours, and then scoop the hardened cream from the top of the can. Thai Kitchen coconut milk is available in most grocery stores.
**Looking for high quality chocolate that doesn’t break the bank? I like Scharffen Berger Chocolate
Salted French Hot Chocolate
- 1/4 cup heavy cream OR coconut cream
- 1 tsp sugar
Salted French Hot Chocolate:
- 2 oz chocolate block (good quality, at least 55%)
- 1 cup whole milk OR coconut milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream OR coconut cream
- 1 - 3 TB brown sugar, to taste (optional, depending on sweetness of chocolate used)
- Optional- 1 TB cocoa powder OR 1 TB instant espresso OR 1 TB amaretto
- Topping- whipped cream OR coconut cream, sea salt
Place a small metal or glass bowl in the freezer.
Finely chop chocolate into small slivers. Heat milk and cream over medium heat in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and then remove from heat. Add chocolate, and stir until it's dissolved. To thicken, place back on low heat and simmer for about 2 minutes. Add sugar to taste. Add cocoa powder, espresso, or amaretto if using.
Remove bowl from freezer, and add cream (or coconut cream). Whip with an electric mixer until it doubles into whipped cream. Add sugar, and whip more until incorporated.
Serve in small mugs, about 4oz per person. Top with whipped cream and a pinch of salt.
I didn’t invent this recipe– ‘Chocolat Chaud’ is served all over Paris, and is so simple that it barely needs a recipe at all! For recipe measurements, I adapted this David Lebovitz recipe.