Hot Chocolate: Thick or Thin?

Hot chocolate to suit any taste being poured from a metal saucepan into a mug.

He said:

The One (Who Brings Me Love, Joy, and Happiness) is perhaps the only person I know who can drink finger-singeing mugs of hot chocolate so thick you could upend them over your head and sing the chorus of “I Will Survive” before the contents glug out. Me, I like my hot chocolate thin, layered, subtle, surprising. So give me a Toby mug filled with hot milk and just enough chocolate swirled in to lend body and a hint of heft while still allowing the hormone/antibiotic-free and outrageously expensive whole milk to shine through. Cream? Puh-lease. I don’t take enough Crestor for that. Marshmallows? Absolutely, but not the mini (ack!) ones. One or two big ones—homemade, even better.

I am adamant: I have no desire to turn into a Hoover and vacuum up a mug of chocolate ganache masquerading as a drink. I like my Aztecan delight thin, so I can sip it while gazing out the window early in the morning, like people did in those old General Foods International Coffee commercials.—David Leite

David Leite's signature

She said:

Brown water. That was the hot chocolate of my childhood. It was the instant variety, whichever brand my mom found on sale, and even when she made it with milk, it was wan. Wan and one-dimensional and cloying, it tasted just as I imagined the inside of the foil envelope might taste. Though it smacked of soullessness, it was still a tease, and I fell for it time and again.

So I did the only thing a disillusioned seven-year-old could do: I dreamt up a cocoa with superhero powers. It was sufficiently substantial to stand up to winters in Iowa, bullies on the school bus, and homework for social studies. It was thick, sweetly subdued, captured the fudgy essence of brownies yet hinted at life’s more elegant decadences that were yet to be known to me. It didn’t so much warm my senses as overwhelm them—an omen of far darker vices, those lingering near the 70th percentile, that I’d succumb to someday. The hot chocolate of my musings was like a puddle of melted chocolate with a splash of heavy cream.

I eventually stumbled upon the proper proportions, creating my memory in reverse. Far from thin, not quite superhero thick, and completely worth the wait.

Renee Schettler Rossi's signature

SwirlHot Chocolate — To Suit Any Taste

Migoya sagely explains that “one of the recurring defects that occurs with hot chocolate is that after it sits for extended periods of time (cold or hot), some of the fat tends to separate to the top and some of the chocolate solids sink to the bottom. To resolve this problem, try adding powdered soy lecithin, a natural ingredient.” A simple pinch, added with the salt, will do you.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Hot Chocolate To Suit Any Taste

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 10 M
  • 10 M
  • Makes 10 cups
5/5 - 4 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Modern Café cookbook

Want it? Click it.


Email Grocery List

Ingredients sent!

Send Grocery List

Email the grocery list for this recipe to:

Is required
Sign me up for your or newsletter, too!
Is required
  • For thin hot chocolate
  • For thick hot chocolate


For thin hot chocolate
Scrape the chocolate bits into a high-sided bowl.
Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to a boil. Careful, it only takes a few distracted seconds for the milk to boil over.
Pour the milk over the chocolate and stir to melt. Buzz the mixture using a handheld immersion blender, add the salt, and continuing buzzing until you obtain a smooth drink.
Strain the hot chocolate, if you wish, and pour into warmed mugs. Serve immediately.
For thick hot chocolate
Scoop the chocolate bits into a high-sided bowl.
Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Be mindful, it only takes a few distracted seconds for the brew to boil over.
Pour the milk-cream mixture over the chocolate and stir to melt. Buzz the mixture using a handheld immersion blender, add the salt, and continuing buzzing until you obtain a smooth, luscious drink.
Strain the hot chocolate, if you wish, and pour into warmed mugs. Serve immediately.
Print RecipeBuy the Modern Café cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Fun flavorings

  • To infuse the hot chocolate with the following flavors, put them in the milk or the milk and cream before boiling. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat. Cover the pot and steep the flavors for a few minutes. As a rule, steep the mixture for 5 minutes maximum if steeping teas and 15 to 20 for other flavors. Strain the liquid into another pot using a fine-mesh sieve and return the liquid to a second boil before pouring over the chocolate. The amounts are for the yields in the recipes above.
  • Earl Grey tea: scant 1 1/2 ounces
  • Jasmine tea: scant 1 1/2 ounces
  • Nutmeg: 7 whole nutmegs, crushed
  • Toasted star anise: 2
  • Cinnamon sticks: 1
  • Vanilla pods, split and scraped: 2
  • Toasted cloves: 1/2 ounce
  • Pink peppercorns, lightly toasted: 1/2 ounce
  • Orange zest: 1 ounce
  • Lemon zest: 3/4 ounce
  • Lime zest: 1/2 ounce
  • Crushed candy canes: 6 ounces


#leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. I like mine thick. So warming and delicious. Now I want to make Hot Chocolate! Wish I had heavy cream to make some.

  2. Learning how to make hot cocoa, pour in the cocoa first, slowly add in milk, stir was one of the first things I perfected at 12. I tend to make mine right in the middle between thick and thin. Is there a name for that? I tried “real” thick hot cocoa from a French café in Montreal a few years back, famous for its hot chocolate menu, (wish I could remember the name of it now). Wow! I think once in a while, that’s a nice treat to share, but even I, who balk at anything below 60%, thought it was a bit too intense for a regular winter splurge.

  3. Love the He Says/She Says take on this. David, I laughed out loud imagining the chorus of “I Will Survive”; Renee, a hot chocolate with super powers: don’t we all want that? For me, it’s dark chocolate; thick, but not sludgy–I don’t want the chocolate to hold the spoon upright in the mug! Mostly I use milk (whole), but often half and half and sometimes full-on cream. Marshmallows I save for my son, but homemade might convince me. As for flavors… earl grey, star anise, cayenne get my vote. If I’m going to spike it, it’s usually with chartreuse.

  4. I am as much a lover of milk as I am an ogling fan of chocolate (all shades, traded fairly or naughtily) so when it comes to hot chocolate I want hot chocolate milk, not melted chocolate a little thinner than ganache that requires guzzling water afterwards to quench cocoa-coated thirst. My ritual per mug is 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon good unsweetened cocoa, splash of milk to make a thick paste, then milk the rest of the way. Heat, let two homemade marshmallows melt into a creamy cap on top, sip. I gave homemade pink and blue marshmallows with a packet of cocoa mix as favors at our baby shower. The combo has been a craving during this pregnancy.

  5. 54% cacao or higher, organic heavy cream, and a dash of cinamon, nutmeg, or a shot of amaretto. Great alternative: almond milk and 56% or higher.

  6. Oh the choices ! For me, slightly thick. No extra cream or marshmallows. Crushed cardamom seeds. Bliss :) But now feel duty bound to experiment with the thinner version :)

Have something to say?

Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

Upload a picture of your dish