Why An Expert Says Hot Chocolate Deserves High-Quality Ingredients

Hot chocolate is a classic comforting beverage that can be elevated with whipped cream, vanilla extract, or cinnamon for a spiced hot chocolate recipe. Even places like Starbucks offer peppermint syrup in hot cocoa for those festive holiday vibes. While grabbing the takeout option or opting for the prepackaged hot chocolate packets on grocery store shelves is convenient in a pinch, making this beverage from scratch is ideal.

Variations of white, milk, or dark chocolate can be used to craft this sippable treat, with the darker, bittersweet chocolate creating the most decadent hot chocolate recipe. However, your drink's overall quality will largely depend on the ingredients you use for the base. According to Grayson Claes, the head pastry chef at One White Street and Rigor Hill Market, you shouldn't be frugal with the chocolate you buy for your hot cocoa.

Claes explained to Mashed, "You want to use the best chocolate you can afford that is meant for baking and melting." He emphasized the need for exceptional ingredients because the chocolate essentially only gets combined with two other ingredients: milk and sugar. Therefore, the subtle flavor notes present in pricier chocolate will embody your entire drink. "I love using Valrhona Chocolates," Claes added.

Take notes on France's hot chocolate

Of course, making anything from scratch will require more work but when you have invested in the highest quality products, you'll want to do them justice. A great example is a type of hot chocolate served in Paris, France. Traditionally referred to as le chocolat chaud, Parisian hot chocolate is known for its velvety chocolate consistency and thicker viscosity, but the preparation process and ingredients also embody Grayson Claes' advice.

Understanding how people around the world drink hot chocolate can provide you with invaluable guidelines, and the French recipe is one to emulate. The ingredients consist of the highest-quality dark chocolate shavings, at least 70% cacao, that get melted into simmering whole milk. A dash of sugar can be added for extra sweetness, but many caf├ęs in Paris also provide a side of fresh whipped cream to accompany the thick beverage.

A common theme among the best-tasting hot chocolates is the simplicity of the ingredients; investing in the best allows those nuanced, natural flavors to shine. Additionally, when checking for quality, traceability is imperative. This is a priority for Claes' recommended chocolate company, Valrhona, along with all aspects of its cacao bean harvesting, from the growing conditions to the drying process. On top of finding your go-to chocolate, organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised milk will provide the best quality dairy for your hot chocolate, and you may find yourself wanting to savor every last sip.