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From the Journal: Le Chocolat Chaud

by Magnolia
Published on October 30, 2023

White text on a light brown background

What if hot chocolate wasn’t just a drink but an event?

Magnolia Journal Winter 2023 in white text on black background.

STORY BY ALYSSA SHULTIS

RECIPES BY ELLEN BOEKE

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARSON DOWNING

PRODUCED BY SCOTT J. JOHNSON

FOOD STYLING BY CHARLIE WORTHINGTON

Imagine steamed milk in one hand, low-and-slow warmed chocolate and cream in the other, poured and melded together in a decadent, creamy drink the French call chocolat chaud. This particular method stills time and helps you fully sink into the present with the ones you love. Merci to the cafés in Paris for capturing joie de vivre in a cup and inspiring us all to see (and taste) the richness in front of us.

A table in a French cafe

French Hot Chocolate

PREP: 15 minutes

MAKES: 2 servings

MILK

Heat 1 1/2 cups whole milk to steaming.

Pour 1 cup of the milk into a warmed creamer dish and set aside.

Note: To warm creamer dishes, fill them with hot water and let stand 10 minutes. Drain and wipe completely dry.

CHOCOLATE

Combine the remaining 1/2 cup hot milk; 4 oz. high-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped; 2 tsp. packed brown sugar; and 1⁄4 tsp. vanilla in a small saucepan.

Heat and whisk over medium-low until melted and smooth.

Pour into a second warmed creamer dish and set aside.

WHIPPED CREAM

Place 1⁄2 cup heavy cream, 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, 1⁄4 tsp. vanilla, and a pinch sea salt in a medium bowl.

Beat with a mixer on high until soft peaks form (tips curl).

Makes 1 cup.

POUR, SIP, ENJOY

Take creamer dishes with the milk and the chocolate, and pour both at the same time into each cup.

Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate.

Chocolate and cream being poured into a mug.

Variations

CINNAMON HOT CHOCOLATE

Prepare as directed, except add a cinnamon stick to the steamed milk. Heat gently and let steep 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick from milk. Continue as directed. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on whipped cream.

COCONUT HOT CHOCOLATE

Prepare as directed, except substitute canned unsweetened coconut milk for the whole milk. Sprinkle toasted coconut on whipped cream.

ADDITIONAL FLAVORS

Prepare as directed, except stir 1/8 tsp. peppermint or almond extract into the steamed milk. Or add a pinch of cayenne pepper or dried chipotle chile to the chocolate mixture when melting. Serve with whipped cream.

A cafe in Paris.
Jo making chocolat chaud in a Paris cafe.

I tried hot chocolate this way for the first time on a trip to Paris last year (took some serious focus, apparently!). It was such a beautiful picture of the way the city, in all its movement and buzz, also celebrates this intentional pause and the moment it creates. I’m inspired to try this ritual at home this season and see how it makes time together that much sweeter. —Joanna

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