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I recently returned from 6 months in Paris, spending a great deal of time with the chocolate and pastry kings. Whether I was talking with Jacques Genin about his work, nudging Pierre Cluizel to try some new ideas at his new chocolate concept store, or just enjoying some Jean-Paul Hévin pieces, the one thing in the back of my mind was . . . their hot chocolate.


They each do great things with their chocolat chaud, but I’m possessed with the idea that they haven’t spent enough time on decadent blends and the science behind what goes into the cup. So I’m hoping The Chocolate Life brain trust can offer some insights. Any thoughts you have on the below would be greatly appreciated!


Preface: I’m using a blend of bars, in non-equal proportions, as the basis for the hot chocolate – Domori Porelana, Amedei Grenada, Cluizel Maralumi Lait, Pralus Ghana, and Bonnat Chuao…

  1. I’ve nailed down the by-weight ratio of liquids to chocolate to about 2:1. While most recipes use a blend of milk and cream, I’m obviously using such pricey bars that I want to incorporate as little perceptible milk fat/protein as possible. So, within the liquids, I’m using 3 parts whole milk to 1 part water. With constant agitation, I can get the serving temp to about 130 degrees before the emulsion starts to break down and cacao solids come out a bit. I’d like to use even less milk and more water, but then the emulsion breaks at lower temps. Any tricks/advice?
  2. Regardless of the milk quantity, I’m trying to be very sensitive to the milk’s ultimate temperature. I’ve been using the approach baristas take, heating the milk to around 140-145 as a way to exploit the conversion of alpha to beta lactase, helping create a slightly sweeter milk component. I’m not seeing any reason to scald the milk, as I’m not doing a ganache, and the hydrogen sulfide produced by the breakdown of lactoglobulin (at around 172 degrees) really wrecks the flavor of the end product. Any thoughts or considerations?
  3. The only additive flavor I’m introducing is vanilla. I’ve found that, by doing a 24-hour cold infusion of only 2 grams of a bean in milk, I can flavor 600ml of the end product. I was hoping to weave in some cinnamon, preferably Ceylon, but it’s proving too harsh at any concentration. Perhaps I should try simply infusing the cinnamon into water, as a way to extract some different nuances. Thoughts or suggestions?
  4. Do any of you have any other too-deeply-thought-out hot chocolate recipes that might assist in my little project here? Despite a lot of research, I’m not finding any other recipes that get serious about blends, temperatures, and process.


Thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have. - Adam / Paris Pâtisseries

Tags: chocolate, hot, temperature

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Hey Adam,

I Never looked at the science behind hot chocolate making like yourself, thanks for the detailed input.I drink my Chocolat chaud like the mayans. I like to include Cinnamon and Cayenne Pepper in mine. I do not see how the taste gets harsh when you infuse it in milk or cream, you just need the right amount of spices.







Couple of questions:

1.  Why create such a complex blend?  Without coming across as a jerk, to me the blend sounds pretentious.  As soon as you add milk and various spices to it, 99% of the population won't notice the difference.  In fact I would hazard a guess that not even the most refined chocolate pallates in the world will be able to pick out the nuances in the various bars you are using.  This is the same philosophy as taking an $80 bottle of shiraz and using it in a stew.  It's a waste, as other flavours overpower the delicate nuances in the wine, just as other flavours in your drink (and the milk too) overpower the nuances present in each of the chocolates you are blending together.

2.  Why are you using chocolate?  You don't have near the control you would if you used liquor.

3.  Traditional drinking chocolate is thickened with corn starch.  You can create a very rich, creamy drink without all the fat by using 3.25% homogonized milk and cornstarch.   There's enough fat already in the chocolate / liquor.  No need to add more in the form of animal fat.  At the same time you can boast to your customers that you are taking them closer to the origin of chocolate than the guy next door.


My experience for what it's worth, and we've been written up all over Canada for the drinking chocolate we offer.




Hi, Brad. Thanks so much for your feedback. Going through your thoughts in order…

  1. I agree it could sound pretentious, but it’s not as evil as it at first looks. My first impulse with the recipe was just take a pre-established blend like Cluizel’s 72% and sweeten it with a little milk chocolate. But just using even that one pre-blended bar, I’d already have South American, African and Javan single origins, as well as vanilla, in the mix. My final product is basically the exact same idea – 3 single origins and a little vanilla – but with two other single origins in very small proportions to the others, to help round out some of the tones. That said, the Porcelana is in the greatest supply, so it’s pretty obvious. I just didn’t want to go the pure single origin route, as that’s where I think the Parisian chefs I referenced seemed to stop. But I’ll see if I can rebalance things enough that I can lop off the Chuao, which is what I use in the smallest supply.
  2. I’m using bars, as I’m doing it European/French/Parisian style. Sugar is already incorporated into the tablettes used + the recipe can be more easily sourced and duplicated by purchasing the same bars. If only people would follow any recipe I put out, I would just start with raw cacao and hand-mill it like the Mayans ;)
  3. I’ve considered the use of cornstarch, but I’m trying to stick to the French style and not use it. Going full-on authentic with the ancient recipe, I think we’d have to use cornmeal. But I’m not entirely opposed to extracting the starch from fresh corn, via more modern methods. Perhaps.


Thanks again for your thoughts. - Adam


Hey Adam and Brad,

I know this might sound terrible on such a chocolate forum but I love milk chocolate. Especially cadburys milk drinking chocolate (Chocolaty, milky and sweet). My wife and I have tried to make a hot milk chocolate drink at home a million times using all sorts of recipes we found on the internet but nothing comes close. We want to try to make it from base ingredients. We've tried melting dark chocolate and mixing with dried milk powder and cocoa butter, then putting it all in a pot with some milk. Tastes ok but is still too bitter. Any suggestions on how to make a good milk hot chocolate without using cocoa powder?



Try this recipe:

1 oz pure liquor / unsweetened chocolate (the best you can buy)

3 oz regular granulated sugar

8 oz homogonized milk

2 tsp cornstarch


Mix the cornstarch with the sugar.

shave the liquor

bring the milk to a boil

Remove the milk from the heat and add the sugar and liquor and whisk until thick and creamy.


If you want it sweeter, add more sugar.  If you want it darker add more liquor.  If you want it thinner use less cornstarch, and if you want it thicker, add just a wee bit more.


Let me know how that works for you.


Then you can experiment with various combinations of the following:

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp chinese 5 spice powder

1/8 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp allspice and cayenne pepper

3/4 tsp garam masala & 1 tsp vanilla (awesome earthy woodsy flavour)


Hope that helps.  Let me know how that works for you.




Oh... and I prefer milk chocolate over dark chocolate too!  But, shhhhhh!  Don't tell anyone!


i hope you don't mind me asking, but when u say garam masala, what combination of spices are u refering to?

here in India we have 28 states and each one has their own blend of garam masala.

Chirag, thanks for resurrecting this thread, I had missed it earlier.

I can say that the hot chocolate we drink in Colombia is very popular with a favorite being the addition of white cheese, which melts in the chocolate and also releases some slightly sour milk fat. Very good. Not sure if it is common elsewhere. I do remember friends from the UK who were shocked and refused to put cheese in their hot chocolate.

I have never heard of this before but it is something I would be interested in trying. So what is 'white cheese', could you liken it to a type? Is it a soft salty cheese like ricotta or something more mature, less salty like fetta?

Tom, the cheese is similar to mozarella.  They call it 'queso campesino' or country/peasant cheese. There are some videos on youtube of the process to make it. 

Some people use mozarella, it's a matter of personal choice. The cheese is cut into cubes and put into the cup to heat up before drinking. The queso campesino retains its structure and becomes chewy, which is really nice. I guess a more neutral flavor is preferable to more mature cheeses. 

Thanks Felipe, so the concept is as a flavouring agent  but also for texture? I assume you would get the lumps at the bottom or does it float kind of like a marshmallow in hot chocolate concept? Oh and how much would one typically add to say a 250ml mug of hot chocolate? And how do you make your hot chocolate, with milk or water?

For those of you interested, Adam finished his recipe tweaking and did a post on his blog back in Jan



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