Espresso Is The Secret Ingredient For More Intense French Hot Chocolate

Those looking to step up their hot chocolate game from store-bought packets to more gourmet versions have likely come across French hot chocolate. It's a more decadent, indulgent spin on the sweet treat, typically handcrafted with high-quality ingredients. But the secret to the most intense and delicious version of this beverage actually comes from a different European country — the espresso of Italy.

Prepare your French hot chocolate recipe as usual, pouring the espresso into the mixture before adding the chocolate to melt. You won't need much — only a shot or less per serving of hot chocolate. Keep in mind that this will naturally change the texture of your hot chocolate, making it a bit looser and closer to the mouthfeel of typical American hot chocolate. If you find it too watery, you can experiment with reducing other liquids in the mixture, like milk or cream.

While it adds a delightful complexity (and subtle energy boost) to the drink, there's no doubt it qualifies as a secret due to the lack of coffee flavor, which blends perfectly into the extensive amount of cocoa taste and dairy richness. For this reason, it's worth mentioning when preparing the drink for any guests in case they're avoiding coffee or caffeine. 

Chocolate and coffee: international favorites

This indulgent, slightly caffeinated beverage (traditionally known as Le chocolat chaud) is just one of the many diverse ways people around the world drink hot chocolate. These include the Italian cioccolata calda, which, unfortunately, doesn't include any espresso. It wouldn't work well in this unusual beverage, which is almost the texture of a pudding thanks to thickeners like cornstarch that are added to the mix.

Still, there's no denying the benefits of pairing coffee and chocolate-focused recipes, whether you're sipping a delicious mocha or recipes that call for mixing coffee into chocolate cake or brownie batter. Coffee's natural bitterness complements the bitterness of chocolate and contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of these dishes. Both espresso and traditional drip coffee can work in different capacities. In any case, small tricks like this added bit of espresso are the key to creating even more delicious, memorable drinks for you and your fellow chocolate lovers.