5@5 - Hot chocolate variations
October 10th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

When temperatures dip, Noah Dan, founder of Pitango Gelato, starts warming up guests with hot Italian sipping chocolate.

“It’s not like anything that comes from a powdered mix,” says Dan, who took inspiration for Pitango’s hot chocolate from the classic cafés of Turin, Italy. “True sipping chocolate must be dark, thick, intense, complex and, like all good things in life, bittersweet.”

The prep is simple, as the recipe contains only three basic ingredients: High-quality cocoa, milk and sugar. The real trick is finding the right cocoa powder because at this level of concentration any negative characteristics in the cocoa will be amplified, making the result less than stellar. Pitango uses organic cocoa from Costa Rica, which has a pure, intense chocolate flavor.

To make the cocoa, combine 2/3 cup cocoa and 1/3 cup sugar in a medium saucepan. Gradually add three cups of milk to the cocoa and sugar over low heat, mixing to avoid lumps. Be sure that the milk is heated but never reaches a boil. Continue mixing the chocolate on low heat until it is fully blended and thickens to a rich consistency.

Thick and potent, hot sipping chocolate is the equivalent of a coffee purist’s ultimate espresso. As such, this “adult” version of hot chocolate is meant to be savored slowly, in small portions (5 ounces or less). If the pure version doesn't cure what ails you, here are a few classic variations that use this hot chocolate as a base.

Five Hot Chocolate Variations: Noah Dan

noah dan

1. With whipped cream
"Whip some heavy cream (without sugar) and serve it in separate cup, which is the way it's done in Turin. Leave the mixing and proportions to the end-user - no two people will consume them the same way."

2. Marocchino
"Combine freshly brewed espresso and hot chocolate, with or without the addition of steamed milk."

3. Bicerin
"Named after a bar by this name in Turin, this classic drink combines coffee, hot chocolate, brandy and cream. Making it is challenging because it combines very strong, complex elements; the cream is lightly whipped and is poured over the back of a spoon on top of the drink so that it floats on the top. Use one shot of brandy and two tablespoons of the lightly whipped cream. As you drink it, the cold cream balances some of the ferocious flavors."

4. Hot gianduja
"If you can get your hands on hazelnut butter, add two teaspoons to a cup of hot chocolate, mix and enjoy this drink reminiscent of my favorite flavor of gelato.

For homemade hazelnut butter, I recommend going the regular nut butter recipe route: Toast hazelnuts until lightly golden. Remove the skins and grind in a food processor until it becomes a smooth paste. You might need to add a little oil (use a neutral oil like canola) to achieve a smooth consistency."

5. Spicy hot chocolate
"Hot chocolate originated with the Maya civilization, who served it spiced with hot pepper. My personal preference for this recipe is habanero pepper. It is a weapon-grade pepper, so slice a very thin ring without any seeds, mix it carefully into a cup of hot chocolate, discard the pepper, then enjoy the burn."

What's your favorite variation of hot chocolate? Spill your warming recipes in the comments below.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Christmas • Holiday • Make • Recipes • Sip • Sweet • Thanksgiving • Think

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Cindy

    Best hot chocolate I ever had was in Paris.... little bistro. Thick, semi sweet...RICH. Heaven in a cup. Nothing like our our North American stuff. No more instant mixes for me, has to be the real stuff now. GOOD cocoa or a bar of premium chocolate, whole milk or even half and half, some sugar. Sigh....

    October 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  2. Mildred

    Drop a shot of your favorite liquor in... I favor Tuaca (a brandy based orange/vanilla liquor).

    October 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  3. AleeD®

    A friend of mind turned me on to this ambrosia (sans cream). With a little cinnamon mixed in, it is heaven in a cup.

    October 11, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  4. Jerv

    I'd love to try that Spicy hot chocolate. Nice read, thanks.

    October 11, 2012 at 7:37 am |
  5. Tony

    Dark, intense, bittersweet? Sounds exactly like traditional Mexican chocolate, probably because that is where chocolate originated.

    October 11, 2012 at 1:11 am |

    hot chocolate gives me superior semen strength, color, durability and elasticity.

    October 11, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  7. KJC

    Swiss Miss! :-)

    October 10, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  8. Nika Cee

    Use almond joy flavored creamer or a tsp of nutella. Super yummy!

    October 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
  9. nate

    Too bad he doesn't use the best chocolate in the world; from Colombia. You've never had "real" hot chocolate unless you've had a cup made from Colombian–yes, it's at least as good as their coffee.

    October 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
  10. ™©JbJiNg!eŚ®™

    Yummy! Oh and the hot chocolate looks good too. ;)

    I really do need to try a #5, I love spycy foods so this should work for me.

    October 10, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  11. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    My specialty is called Cat Scat Fever. I use a loose leaf tea brewing capsule and lower Mittens' latest creation within it into my favorite Nestle Quik concoction. I hear they charge quite a bit for that kind of stuff in some overseas countries. You can make yours at home for less than $1 so long as you have a cat and a scoop.

    October 10, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • bill

      thats quite disgusting

      October 10, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Tommy R

      That has got to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard since Obama became president.

      October 10, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
      • danny h

        got that right lol

        October 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
      • Truth™@TommyR

        Obama is a liberal stooge. But let's not politicize a food blog.

        October 11, 2012 at 8:58 am |
        • Wet Mittens

          And next to Palin, Romney is the biggest political stooge.

          October 11, 2012 at 6:08 pm |


        December 26, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Jerv@Jdizz

      I should not be laughing at this.

      October 11, 2012 at 7:11 am |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫ @ Jerv

        My mind is easily amused sometimes.

        October 11, 2012 at 9:20 am |
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