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Le Chocolat Chaud—Blissful Chocolate Therapy for the Masses



By Marie Flanagan

Growing up, hot chocolate was a sweet treat that was whipped together from a powdery mix and sipped too quickly after sledding. I never minded the burned mouth or the sticky mittens afterwards because hot chocolate was a superb treat, and it still is. These days, we’ve elevated our hot chocolate recipe. That’s not to say that we don’t have a jar of powdery mix stashed in the pantry for hot chocolate emergencies, but when time and ingredients permit, we indulge in Parisian-style hot chocolate. And it’s always worth the effort.

The first time I heard about le chocolat chaud, or Parisian hot chocolate, was while I was reading David Lebovitz’s book The Sweet Life in Paris for book club. After we finished the book, I wasn’t craving croissants or boeuf bourguignon—I wanted that darn chocolat chaud that he raved about. I decided to consult an expert, Carrie Vono—she’s the pastry chef at Alma and a beloved friend. Carrie offered to mix some up for my husband and me. As we sat at the bar, sipping the rich, bittersweet concoction, I gazed at Carrie and my husband’s smiling faces, and all was right with the world. I thought, for a minute, that chocolat chaud should be patented as some kind of therapy.

I finally asked Carrie for a chocolat chaud lesson, and she, being truly amazing, obliged happily. She said, “Do you have milk and sugar?” I said, “You betcha!” She said, “Perfect. I’ll bring the chocolate.” The secret to Carrie’s method is using high quality, bittersweet chocolate, and allowing additional cooking time after the chocolate has melted into the milk. The additional cooking time allows the mixture to thicken, creating that rich, smooth texture that sets chocolat chaud apart from its powdery counterparts.

Le Chocolat Chaud a la Carrie Vono of Alma

  • 2 cups milk (whole milk is better)
  • 5 ounces of high quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • Marshmallows (if desired)

1. Slowly heat the milk in a medium-sized saucepan.
2. Once the milk becomes warm, stir in the chocolate until it is melted and the mixture is steaming hot.
3. After the chocolate is completely melted, stir in the sugar.
4. Let the mixture simmer for about 3 minutes, while you stir constantly. Don’t let it come to a hard boil.
5. Pour into cups, garnish, and serve immediately.

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