What's The Right Temperature For Hot Chocolate? We Asked An Expert

If you're a hot chocolate lover, chances are you have specific techniques for making the best cup. Perhaps you serve it shaken like the elves in "The Santa Clause," or maybe you like it best with mixed-in whipped cream. From spiced hot chocolate to spiked hot chocolate, there's hardly a rule book on hot chocolate recipes. But there is one thing that most hot chocolate experts can agree on: Finding the right temperature seriously elevates the drink.

In fact, an expert told Mashed that there's a temperature at which hot chocolate is best enjoyed. According to Grayson Claes, head pastry chef of One White Street and Rigor Hill Market, 150 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit is the ultimate sweet spot. He said it makes the hot chocolate feel "comforting without it burning" and allows the nuances of the chocolate to slip through. Enhancing the sweet, nutty, or even bitter chocolate flavors is key. Rich cocoas with classy additives like brown sugar make for decadent hot chocolate that deserves to have no ounce of flavor compromised. Overly hot drinks completely overpower the ingredients' taste, so you want to get hot chocolate to a nice warmth without burning the liquid.

How to measure the temperature

It's especially crucial to avoid overheating your hot chocolate if you use milk as your base. Milk heats up very quickly, and the taste can actually alter if it's burnt. You can use water instead (which heats slower), but the creaminess of milk is hard to beat. Regardless of your liquid of choice, you'll want to purchase a good kitchen thermometer to execute Grayson Claes' expert tip. That way, you can get the exact measurement and save yourself from getting scalded (a moment of silence for all the burnt mouths). 

There are countless ways to heat hot chocolate, and the thermometer will come in handy for every method. Since many appliances can be used for hot chocolate, focusing on checking the temperature rather than timing specific intervals is more efficient (unless you use the microwave). Whether you make it in a large batch in the slow cooker or homemade on the stove, you'll want to cook it at medium to low heat, consistently testing the temperature. If you're in a pinch and opt for the microwave, set it on medium power for 1 minute to start. Then, use your thermometer to test the temperature before adding additional 20-second intervals until you reach the desired warmth. Even if you give Instant Pot hot chocolate a try, you'll thank Claes later for the helpful temperature guideline.