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French Style Hot Chocolate - Chocolat Chaud



Bonjour, French style hot chocolate. It doesn’t get much more indulgent than this recipe. This rich, wickedly decadent traditional French style drinking chocolate is the ultimate cool weather treat.

OK, it’s probably high on the list as an invitation to a heart attack, but as an occasional treat, or sensibly portioned in a petit cup, this drink will warm your cockles and your tummy. It is equally as good shared over conversation, or secretly concocted for yourself to console a broken heart, or as a ‘me time’ treat. You’re definitely worth it.

I love visiting France, and French hot chocolate, slurped in a Parisian tea salon like Angelina’s or Laduree, seems just that little bit extra special. I’m not talking about hot cocoa (made with cocoa powder) here, but a drinking chocolate made with seriously good chocolate, milk, cream and vanilla bean. Make a ritual out of it, and pour from a pot when in company for extra amusement (who says only ‘Tea’ Parties get all the fun of ‘a jug of this’ and ‘a bowl of that’ to play with).

Rumour has it the French were early European adopters of the virtues of drinking chocolate, with royalty and nobility loving the stuff. It was served at the wedding of Louis XII in 1615. They soon started to share the love with the masses, when a Frenchman opened the first ‘Chocolate House’ (akin to a café – but serving drinking chocolate) in London in 1657.

The Spanish had experimented with the magical and mysterious cacao beans for many years during the 16th Century before they shared this secret ingredient with the rest of Europe (Spanish conquistador Cortez returned from the Americas with beans and a recipe in 1528). The Spanish may also be thanked for adding a payload of sugar to the recipe, taking the first step towards the sweet concoction we now drink, which is very different to that of the Aztec’s drink of the Gods.

During the 17th Century the French privileged revelled in the consumption of drinking chocolate. The properties of the elixir, however, still held much mystery, as illustrated in a warning by Madame de Sevigne to her daughter. In 1671 she cautioned her daughter with the tale of a woman who drank so much drinking chocolate during her pregnancy she gave birth to a baby that was “black as the devil” she says, who died. Ummm, wow.

Drinking chocolate consumption continued to sore, of course being considered both an aphrodisiac and having medicinal properties may well have helped the cause, and it was said to be consumed daily by Louis IV. Marie Antoinette famously brought her personal chocolatier (‘Chocolate Maker to the Queen’) amongst her luggage when she arrived in France in the 18th Century, by which time milk had been added to create the creamy drinking chocolate which was getting closer to what we consume today, minus some of her exotic recipes ingredients like orchid bulb.

So without further ado … I give you a recipe for a traditional and luxurious French style chocolat chaud!



For a print friendly recipe click here!

Ingredients notes:

Couverture chocolate must contain loads of delicious cocoa butter as the only fat on the ingredients list. In fact 32% of the ingredients need to be cocoa butter to be labelled couverture chocolate in Australia. No vegetable oil (palm oil) should be listed in the ingredients, just luscious cocoa butter, which melts at our body temperature and gives chocolate the luxurious melt-in-the- mouth texture and feel.

Buy the best quality chocolate you can afford or source, and I implore you to think ethically/fairly/sustainably traded wherever you can. The small price difference to us, simply changes lives in cacao growing communities, I’ve seen it first hand again and again.

Try boutique local chocolatiers or gourmet food suppliers for good quality chocolate, and find a brand and % you like for each application. If you have to purchase at a supermarket, just make sure there is no vegetable oil in the ingredients, which does not melt at our body temperature, and leaves a waxy film in your mouth. Not to mention the environmental/habitat devastation from unsustainable palm oil farming. Google it.

Feel free to alter the amount and type of chocolate you use in the recipe to suit your taste.


300 ml whole milk

125 ml cream

¼ - ½ pod vanilla bean seeds scraped from pod

1 tblsp brown sugar

pinch sea salt

100g dark couverture chocolate

25g milk chocolate


Scrape vanilla bean seeds into the cream in a saucepan.

Add milk, brown sugar and sea salt to the saucepan and heat over over medium heat, until it starts to ‘shiver’, with bubbles beginning to appear and it starts to steam. It must be hot, but do not boil.

Remove from heat, whisk in chocolates.

When combined, reheat gently whilst stirring.


With whipped cream dolloped on top. Add a little icing sugar and vanilla to the cream before whipping to make Chantilly cream if you like.

And grated chocolate on top of whipped cream, if you just don’t know when to stop. Like me.


Orange Twist – Start with 300ml cream. Heat cream til almost boiling, remove from heat and add finely grated zest of 1 orange (just the orange coloured part, avoid the white pith which is bitter). Infuse for 15 minutes. Strain cream through fine sieve into clean saucepan, pressing down on the zest to push all the deliciously infused cream through. Continue recipe as above. You may prefer to remove the vanilla, but I like the vanilla and orange combo … it’s your choice! Other delicious flavours can be infused this way as well, like fresh mint leaves, cinnamon sticks, or coffee for a delicious ‘mocha’ flavour.

Brown sugar whipped cream – Add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar per cup of cream before whipping to give a light caramel flavour to the cream.

This incredible collection of chocolate pots known as ‘Chocolatières’ is on display in the Choco-story Chocolate Museum in Paris. I can’t recommend a visit highly enough! The original museum is in Brugge, Belgium, which is also great, but the collection in Paris is mindblowing! In the early 1600’s, the museum suggests, Chocolatières’ were made of copper and iron, evolving to porcelain and ceramic, and from the late 17th and 18th Centuries on, luxury silver models appeared. The hole in the lid for the frothing stick denotes the pot is for serving chocolate rather than coffee.

These drinking chocolate cups (below) are also on display at the Choco-story museum in Paris. In France, cups for drinking chocolate were large (compared to petit Italian cups for thicker drinking chocolate for example), and often in the 16th & 17th Centuries the cups and saucers held the same volume, so the drinking chocolate may be poured into the saucer to cool down. Amazing.

This ‘moustache cup’ (pictured below) protected the chocolate drinker’s moustache from getting messy!



The best quality chocolate you can afford



Fair Trade certified or chocolate that has been been ethically & sustainably sourced



Read more, in 'frequently asked questions'

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