It’s the holidays and we’ve got Andy Williams’ song running through our heads. That line about the peppermint stick has always stuck out, as well as the following verse “With the whoop-de-do and dickory dock, And don’t forget to hang up your sock”. So with a whoop-de-do, we’re in the mood for Peppermint Hot Chocolate, but we’re giving it a Parisian twist.
What is French Hot Chocolate aka Drinking Chocolate aka Chocolat Chaud?
We’re all familiar with Swiss Miss and other convenient hot cocoa powder packets that have become a mainstay of winter.
French drinking chocolate, also known as chocolat chaud, on the other hand is made from melting down whole pieces of dark chocolate into milk and is lightly sweetened with sugar. Traditionally, the taste emphasis is more on the chocolate and less on being overly sweet.
Melting chocolate results in a superiorly rich and thicker hot chocolate which would be quite difficult to guzzle. It is, however, great for sipping and dipping.
A rich tradition of hot chocolate
In France, chocolat chaud is often served with some sort of crusty bread or a croissant that can be dipped into the chocolate. Children may even drink this for breakfast.
The history of this rich treat can be traced back thousands of years — to the Mayans. They made a bitter chocolate drink that was sometimes used for medicinal purposes.
So there you go — some excuses to drink chocolate for breakfast and use it as medicine.
Additionally, many European countries have their own versions of drinking chocolate. In Spain, people often have chocolate caliente with churros. We thought that this would be nice for dipping a candy cane or two, or your favorite cookie.
How do I make Peppermint French Hot chocolate?
Do candy canes work to infuse minty flavor?
The first thing we discovered when making this festive holiday drinking chocolate is that candy canes aren’t that great at transferring peppermint flavor and give you zero control over how much sugar is used.
It is possible to make a simple syrup from candy canes to use in drinks, but using peppermint extract will give you optimal mintiness and won’t take as long.
On the flip side, candy canes are great crushed up and used for a garnish. However, they will sink like quicksand to the bottom of your cup and melt, so enjoy them while you can.
Another thing to note is you can’t simply drop in the extract to the melted chocolate and call it a day. The menthol in the extract is too harsh and bitter and dark chocolate isn’t sweet enough on its own, so you’ll need to add a bit of sugar to balance it all out. What’s great about this is you can adjust the sweetness to your tastes.
Can I use milk chocolate for this?
It’s not recommended to use milk chocolate because you’re already melting the chocolate into milk. We recommend using a dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cacao.
Making Chocolat Chaud
First you’ll start off by heating milk, a cinnamon stick, and the vanilla and peppermint extracts in a saucepan over medium heat and let these flavors infuse. The cinnamon stick and vanilla give a nice subtle background flavor. You can stick in a candy cane for good luck if you want, but it doesn’t really add much.
Once the milk is steaming and frothy, you can adjust the temperature to medium-low and let it steam, not bubble, for 10 minutes.
Next, you’ll pull out the cinnamon stick and whisk in the cocoa powder.
Bring the temperature back up to medium, and keep whisking until the mixture is steaming and frothy.
Pour the mixture through a sieve into a separate bowl to strain out the cocoa solids. Clean the saucepan to get rid of any remaining cocoa solids. These will make your hot chocolate grainy, so don’t skip this step.
Return the chocolate milk mixture to the saucepan, and bring the heat back up to medium.
Here comes the fun part: melting a whole bar of chocolate into the chocolate milk!
Stir it gently.
Keep stirring and lower the temperature if it begins to bubble. The mixture will begin to thicken and become darker as the chocolate blends into the liquid.
It will continue thickening, so keep stirring until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar and taste. We ended up using about a tablespoon of sugar in all so keep adding a teaspoon at a time until it’s up to your desired sweetness level.
To make the chocolate more milky, you can add a bit of half and half if you desire.
Then take it off the heat, pour it in a mug and enjoy!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. As always, comments are welcome and encouraged!
Looking for another rich and decadent dessert idea?
Try our Texas Whiskey Cake recipe!Print
Peppermint French Style Hot Chocolate: Chocolat Chaud Recipe
This French style drinking chocolate is thick, rich, luxurious and minty. Garnish with crushed candy canes and enjoy!
- Prep Time: 5 min
- Cook Time: 15 min
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 2 1x
- Category: Drink
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: French
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
- 500 ml whole milk
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 bar (100g) dark chocolate , chopped or broken into small pieces
- 1 cinnamon stick
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp half and half (optional)
- 1 tbsp sugar*
- crushed candy canes for garnish
To make the hot chocolate:
- In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, add the milk, cinnamon stick, vanilla and peppermint extracts. Heat the milk until steaming and slightly frothy.
- Lower the heat to medium low so that the milk continues to steam but not bubble to allow the flavors to infuse. Cook for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and whisk in cocoa powder. Bring the temperature up to medium, and cook until the mixture is steaming and frothy.
- Remove from heat, and strain through a sieve into a medium bowl. Clean out the saucepan so no bits of cocoa remain. Return the strained cocoa milk mixture to the saucepan.
- Over medium heat, gently stir in the chocolate pieces. Keep stirring until you have reached your desired thickness, about five minutes
- Whisk in a pinch of salt and up to a tablespoon* of sugar. Taste the hot chocolate. If you find it’s too rich or bitter, stir in a tablespoon or two of half and half cream.
- Remove from heat, and pour into two small cups.
- Garnish with crushed candy cane or whipped cream.
*Start with a teaspoon and add up to a tablespoon. You can adjust the sugar to taste.
Keywords: chocolate, peppermint, hot chocolate, French chocolat chaud, candy canes, holiday