This decadent, vegan-friendly Salted French Hot Chocolate (Chocolat Chaud) is a European-style hot cocoa that’s made with dark chocolate, whole milk & cream (or coconut milk & coconut cream), and topped with flavorful gourmet salt.
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.
Am I joking? The world will never know!
At any rate– 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.
What is French Hot Chocolate?
French hot chocolate is decadent and rich— richer than your normal hot cocoa.
This European-style dark hot chocolate is made with whole milk and cream (or coconut milk and coconut cream), and lots of freshly crushed chocolate. Top it off with some extra delicious gourmet salt, and you’re all set for those chilly fall evenings.
What is a Finishing Salt?
To make this Salted French Hot Chocolate, you (of course) need salt. If you’re reaching for a jar of iodized salt– Stop!!! (Actually, stop using that salt for cooking completely– swap it for kosher or sea salt).
For this recipe, you want a finishing salt. These salts are light and flaky, and will land on the whipped cream delicately, giving it a little extra texture and “oomph.”
What kind of salt should you use? I like using an heirloom salt from a local brand– J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works. You could also use the more traditional Fleur de Sel, or Malden’s sea salt.
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— use the best quality chocolate and milk you can find. I like Scharffen Berger Chocolate.
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.
Customizing your French Hot Chocolate
Are you making this European-style cocoa 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 and making chocolat chaud— 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!
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 (Avoid "light" 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
- 1/8 tsp large grain 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.