Hot Chocolate from scratch

Recipe status: stable

Makes one large serving.

Put the milk and cornstarch in a sauce pan. Whisk to disolve the cornstarch. Add the sugar and salt and whisk.

Bring this nearly to a boil and add the chocolate. Whisk to melt and disolve the chocolate. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and rum. Serve.


Most recipes say you need to finely chop the chocolate--that's superstitious crap. Save yourself the trouble of washing a knife and cutting board. If your milk mixture is near the boil, it will quickly melt the average ounce square of chocolate. Just keep whisking so it doesn't stick to the bottom.

The cornstarch is important. It does thicken the drink slightly (which I like) but it's more than that. Starch is an emulsifier. It keeps the cocoa butter (which is a fat) from separating and rising, causing a dark skin on top. With the quantity given here, it will still form a slight skin as it cools, but more makes it too thick.

Adding some cream makes a creamier hot chocolate, but the thickness created by the cornstarch does the same thing, without adding fat. I don't usually add cream unless I have some sitting in the fridge waiting to spoil.

Don't add too much rum or you'll kill the taste of the chocolate. If you want to have a drink, just have a drink; don't screw up your hot chocolate in the process.


You could also substitute brandy or another hard alchohol or liquor.

I have also seen hot chocolate recipies that contain an egg instead of the cornstarch. The yolk contains lecithin which is also an emulsifier. The big problem I have with this is that a single egg is too much to add to a single serving. Let me know if you hve a suggested quantity per serving.

Try adding a splash of espresso or regular coffee. This could replace or compliment the rum. Adding more than a teaspoon or two will quickly overpower the chocolate taste, so use cautiously. This gives the drink more of a bite, with less sweetness.

I'll admit that this is a fair amount of work for hot chocolate. It's worth it. If you want something quicker, make up a batch of Alton Brown's Hot Cocoa mix and go for it when the time comes.

Copyright © , last modified 2010-07-14.