On a cold day, this rich and Creamy Homemade Hot Chocolate is the perfect comforting drink to warm you up. Simply made with just chocolate chips, cream, milk, and vanilla, smooth velvety hot chocolate never tasted so good!
This is not your ordinary everyday hot cocoa. It is the best hot chocolate, ever. This creamy, dreamy hot chocolate is loaded with semi-sweet chocolate, cream, and milk that will soothe any chocolate craving you might have.
Imagine you are in Paris in the early spring. The chestnut trees have begun to bud and the weather is cool with a bite of winter still in the air. You find a cafe and decide to watch the world go by with a hot drink so you order a "Le Chocolat Chaud", the French version of hot chocolate or "drinking chocolate".
It is the creamiest, richest, and most satisfying hot chocolate you have ever had. I've had it... once in one of those cafes. And Starbucks tried it some 20-odd years ago in their shops. But, sadly it never caught on. It wasn't quite creamy enough and it was much sweeter than the French drink, because... well, we Americans do like sweets that are very sweet.
Le Chocolat Chaud is typically made with dark chocolate, half milk, half cream, and a vanilla bean that has been split. You make it like you are making a ganache and then you thin the ganache with milk and cook it. Oh... yes! De-li-cious!
This homemade hot chocolate recipe is made the same way. You heat cream, pour it over real chocolate, and make a ganache. Then you heat milk and add the ganache. Simply simmer a few minutes and there you have it, or as the French would say voilà! You've just made the easiest recipe for the creamiest hot chocolate.
Hot Chocolate vs. Hot Cocoa
Both hot chocolate and hot cocoa contain milk, cream, and vanilla. However hot chocolate contains solid chocolate for a pure chocolate flavor and hot cocoa is made with unsweetened cocoa powder.
Cocoa powder is powdered chocolate from cocoa beans that have their cocoa butter, which is a fat, and cocoa solids removed which makes a dry powder. Because the cocoa solids have been removed, cocoa powder does not have the same flavor and richness as solid chocolate.
Hot chocolate is definitely a more flavorful and luxurious beverage while hot cocoa is a much quicker chocolate beverage to make. But in my opinion, no creamy hot cocoa from a mix can ever compare to the intense chocolate flavor of a well-made hot chocolate.
Why We Love Creamy Hot Chocolate
- Only 4 Simple Ingredients
- Quick and Easy to Make – a 20-Minute Recipe
- Customizable to Your Taste
- Scalable Recipe for Holiday Gatherings
- This is the Only Hot Chocolate Recipe You Will Ever Need!
Why This Recipe Works
I love simple recipes which to me means fewer ingredients and kitchen equipment and this recipe totally fits.
You begin by making a ganache which is the best way to make a creamy and thick hot chocolate.
Hot cream is poured over chopped chocolate in a bowl. The bowl of chocolate and cream is left to sit for a few minutes and then stirred which melts the chocolate and mixes it into the cream simultaneously. So there is no need to heat the chocolate over boiling water to melt it and you avoid the risk of water splashing into the chocolate causing it to seize. Plus, you save time not having to wash an additional pot!
Now you add the ganache to simmering milk to thin it to a drinking consistency and stir it until it is smooth and smells absolutely heavenly.
But, the real beauty of this delicious recipe is that you can change it easily to suit your taste. If it is too sweet, you can use bittersweet chocolate for all or part of the semi-sweet. If it is too thick, you can add a little more milk to thin it, and if you want a special flavor simply swap some of the chocolate for flavored chocolate like orange or raspberry. There is no limit to the variations you can create.
Are you ready to make the most decadently delicious hot chocolate ever?
Great!... So, let's cook!
Here's what you need to make this creamy homemade hot chocolate:
- Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips - I chose chocolate chips in this recipe because they are readily available and easy to use. But you can use any chocolate you like to eat in this recipe.
- Heavy Cream - Use the very best heavy cream you can find. There is no skimping in this recipe. Various brands at the grocery store may label it as "Heavy Cream", "Whipping Cream", or "Heavy Whipping Cream".
- Whole Milk - You will need fresh whole milk. Do not substitute any other kind.
- Vanilla Extract - I use vanilla extract for convenience. But a vanilla pod, halved, and simmered in the milk is the real deal.
Please see the recipe card for the exact quantities.
In a medium saucepan bring the heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. Place the chocolate chips into a large heat-resistant bowl as the cream heats.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips. Let the chocolate and cream stand for 5 minutes without stirring. Then mix the chocolate and cream mixture with a whisk until it is well combined and smooth.
In a large 2-quart pan, heat the whole milk over medium-low heat to a simmer. Carefully, add the chocolate ganache (melted chocolate and cream) to the heated milk.
Whisk the chocolate ganache and milk until it is smooth and stir in the vanilla extract. Cook for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally.
Pour the hot chocolate into cups or mugs and garnish as desired.
How to Serve Hot Chocolate
This creamy hot chocolate is so rich and flavorful that you will definitely enjoy sipping it on its own without any garnish. But for extra flare and an over-the-top experience, you can top it with your favorite toppings like whipped cream, small or crushed cookies, finely crushed peppermint candies, or mini marshmallows.
For a tipsy version, just for adults, you can add peppermint schnapps, coffee liqueur, hazelnut liqueur, amaretto, Irish cream, or any other liqueur flavor that goes well with chocolate. Add about one shot per 8 ounces of hot chocolate.
When to Serve Creamy Hot Chocolate
- Cool Nights
- Valentine's Day
- Christmas Eve
- Special Brunches
- Just Because It is So Good!
My Top Tip
♡ For easy preparation, beat the ganache well with a whisk and always let the milk come to a full simmer before adding the ganache.
Substitutions & Variations
- Bittersweet Chocolate - Instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips you can use bars of bittersweet chocolate in this recipe. Use a large chef’s knife to chop the chocolate into very small ¼” chunks.
- Milk Chocolate - Use milk chocolate instead of some or all of the semi-sweet chocolate.
- Flavored Chocolate - Experiment with substituting flavored chocolate for part of the chocolate chips. Good choices are orange, raspberry, or mint.
- ADD Instant Espresso Powder - Coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate and will very slightly reduce the sweetness. Add one teaspoon of instant espresso to the milk as it heats.
- ADD Spice - Mexican-style hot chocolate contains cinnamon. Other spices that are added often are chiles for a traditional Aztec version or chai spices for a modern twist.
Make-Ahead & Storage
You really can't make hot chocolate in advance. This is one of those beverages you need to serve immediately after making it.
However, if you do have some leftover hot chocolate you can make a scrumptious chocolate dessert!
Let the hot chocolate cool to room temperature. If a skin formed while it cooled, remove it with a fork, whisk the remaining cooled hot chocolate well, and pour it into small dessert glasses. Refrigerate it and you will have a dessert that is a very soft set pudding that is delicious!
More Delicious Drinks
Creamy Homemade Hot Chocolate
- 1 ½ Cups Heavy Cream
- 8 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 2 Cups Whole Milk
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- In a medium saucepan bring the heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. Place the chocolate chips into a large heat-resistant bowl as the cream heats.1 ½ Cups Heavy Cream, 8 ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips. Let the chocolate and cream stand for 5 minutes without stirring. Then mix the chocolate and cream mixture with a whisk until it is well combined and smooth.
- In a large 2-quart pan, heat the whole milk over medium-low heat to a simmer. Carefully, add the chocolate ganache (melted chocolate and cream) to the heated milk.2 Cups Whole Milk
- Whisk the chocolate ganache and milk until it is smooth and stir in the vanilla extract. Cook for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally.1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Pour the hot chocolate into cups or mugs and garnish as desired.
Encharted Cook Notes
Nutrition Per Serving
All nutritional information on this site is an estimate. Your results may vary.