Drinking Chocolate Is Chocolate You Can Drink! Let's Make Some.

Dark chocolate, spice, and everything nice.

September 22, 2020
Photo by Heather Hands

I am a sucker for anything chocolate, and I’m not very particular about the variety. I can appreciate and recognize a good chocolate, but I’ll never turn my nose to a Twix, a Kit Kat, or even one of those giant rabbit-shaped chocolates the Easter bunny used to hide behind my bed (because it really was a good hiding spot).

I never go a day without at least one piece of chocolate—I find that it helps lower my stress levels and, overall, just makes me feel really good. Sometimes I’ll have a nice piece of dark 70 percent chocolate with a full-bodied glass of red wine, while other times I’ll enjoy a creamy piece of milk chocolate with my black coffee. No matter what form (cake, cookies, brownies, or drinking chocolate) it comes in, I love all chocolate.

I even have such fond memories of those powdery packs of Cadbury hot chocolate, the ones with the tiny marshmallows inside. I remember being a kid, all bundled in my snow gear, waddling in from the snowy outdoors through the basement door. After stripping down all those layers of socks and pants, my nose was always as red as can be, and my fingers and toes were tingly due to potential frostbite. My mom would save the day by greeting us with a cup of hot chocolate, extra marshmallows in mine, and my sisters and I would sit in front of the fireplace to dethaw. 

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As I get older, I do find that my tastes are continually changing. I can no longer stand the super-sweet nature of the hot chocolate of my youth. What I now look for in a hot chocolate is completely different: I like to be able to taste the different notes and flavors that are naturally present in the chocolate; my ideal hot chocolate has creaminess from milk, subtle orange notes, and even a slight spiciness.

A few years ago I was introduced to drinking chocolate, which can also be referred to as sipping chocolate. The concept of drinking chocolate dates back about 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, to the Olmec, a Mesoamerican civilization in southern Mexico; they passed their chocolate drink on to the Maya, and then the Aztecs.

Watch: How to Make the Ultimate Chocolate Cake

Although the terms "drinking chocolate," "sipping chocolate," "hot chocolate," and "hot cocoa" are often used interchangeably, what we know as drinking chocolate today is different in that it uses real dark chocolate melted into warm milk—not powder. The great thing about drinking chocolate is that you can tailor each cup to your own preferences.

What Type of Chocolate Should I Use?

I prefer using a nice dark chocolate, something with a lot of flavor (and I think you would be selling yourself short if you tried to use a mediocre milk chocolate). I recommend using a chocolate around 60 percent to 8 percent cocoa, one from a good reputable store; SOMA, Theo, and Taza are a few of my favorites.

How to Flavor Your Drinking Chocolate

In my drinking chocolate, I like to use a good amount of orange zest, cinnamon, and chili powder. The combination of those flavors with the chocolate and the creamy milk is incredible. When I make mine at home, I heat all of the ingredients in a pot until warm, but I have also seen people melt the the chocolate with spices, add it to a cup, and then steam milk and pour it over like a latte. The recipe that I have provided below makes 2 cups, enough to serve 4 people.

Drinking chocolate is much richer than your average mug of hot chocolate, so I find that a 1⁄2-cup serving per person is plenty. 

How to Make Drinking Chocolate

Serves: 4


- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 small orange, zested

Step 1:

Add the milk, honey, chocolate, cinnamon, chili powder, and orange zest to a medium saucepan and heat on low. Continue to stir with a whisk until the chocolate has melted.

Sipping Chocolate

Step 2:

Continue to heat the sipping chocolate on low until it has turned a nice dark-brown color and is warm to the touch (10 to 15 minutes). Ensure that you are stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Do not heat the milk to boiling.

Sipping Chocolate

Step 3:

Strain the sipping chocolate and pour it into 4 cups. Serve immediately.

More Chocolate, Right This Way

Hot Fudge

This chocolately hot fudge is everything a hot fudge should be: silky-shiny, very gooey, and totally unfussy to make at home. You only need three ingredients (all of which you just might have lying around your pantry), so there's no excuse for not whipping this up on a weeknight and drizzling it over your favorite ice cream—or brownies, cake, Greek yogurt, cookies, the list goes on.

Fudgy, Flourless Instant Pot Chocolate Cake

If you're idea of the perfect chocolate cake is super fudgy, light as air, and velvety moist, then look no further than this Instant pot wonder. "A dollop of crème fraiche is the perfect finishing touch," writes cookbook author Jessie Sheehan, "though unsweetened whipped cream or even vanilla (or caramel!) ice cream would be awfully nice, too. 

Chocolate Fondue

Who doesn't love the sound of chocolate fondue? Your favorite chocolate (be it dark, milk, or white) melted and swirled with hot heavy cream till they combine to form a magical dipping sauce. That sounds pretty darn great to us.

Chocolate & Chipotle Crinkle Cookies

These chocolate cookies are all about one thing: the crinkle. They get their signature look and maximally crinkly texture by rolling the shaped cookie dough in granulated sugar before rolling it in confectioners' sugar. They've also got a hint of lively spice, too, thanks to the addition of homamade chipotle chile paste.

What's your favoite type of drinking chocolate? Tell us in the comments!

Photos by Heather Hands 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Heather Hands

Written by: Heather Hands


Marsha M. September 24, 2020
My favourite is Soma's Dark Side of the Mug drinking choclate made with milk, or, in certain moods, water (yes, you can make it with water, which gives a very pure chocolate taste). Though there are times when an Angelina-style right dark chocolate in high-fat milk is just the thing.
Marsha M. September 24, 2020
(also, a dollop of your favourite whisky is delicious)
Melinda R. September 6, 2017
can I make this ahead of time and reheat it?
Robert September 6, 2017
Yes, I think that is fine. Simply reheat, taste, and tweak the flavors if needed. The zest flavors may have dulled a bit, and may need some help to liven it up again.
Marsha M. September 24, 2020
I've had luck making it with very little liquid, so it's more a paste, then heat milk and spoon some of hte paste in, to taste. Refrigerate to store, of course.
phree December 30, 2016
Made this with agave, no oranges here in the winter (very North), but it was excellent & rich. Also works great with baking semi-sweet chocolates.
Andy W. December 27, 2015
5 Steps to making hot chocolate drinking for serve.
JT N. February 24, 2015
How about some Grand Marnier for a nice layer of bittersweet orange? Hmmm will have to experiment! Ordered a crap ton of 70% TAZA chocolate on Amazon. :D
Thomas J. February 24, 2015
"To paint the Lily and Gild the Rose." - Shakespere
CCAT January 16, 2015
I think ugh this was delicious..used adobo because I had no chili powder.. But I'm happy. Thank you
Robert January 15, 2015
Coconut milk is another fine non-dairy substitute. Maple syrup (Grade B) in place of honey adds depth and character.
rockribbedrushy January 15, 2015
You don't say, but whose mugs are those?
Sienna January 10, 2015
Almond milk is delicious in hot chocolate and much healthier
Suzanne B. January 9, 2015
Have French Broad sipping chocolate-----how would I make the above with this?