Italy is often associated with beautiful landscapes, amazing wine, and ancient history. Well, this weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful city of Baltimore for the first time where I experienced another true, but little-known, Italian speciality – Italian hot chocolate.
Italian v. American Hot Chocolate
My husband and I were making our way through Fells Point and came across Pitango Gelato, a quaint dessert cafe specializing in Italian ice cream and hot chocolate. Although I did get a scoop of the gelato, I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying my first Italian hot chocolate. Italian hot chocolate, or cioccolato caldo as it is known in Italy, is quite different from the American version. Italian hot chocolate is much thicker (cornstarch is used to thicken it) and definitely more chocolaty than it’s American counterpart. The consistency is somewhere between a thin pudding and a thick syrup. The drink is very similar to the hot chocolate served in Spain, although most often Spaniards will order a churro or hard cookie for dipping. Sadly, my hot chocolate was lonely for there was no biscotti in site!
The name and look of this drink may lead some people to believe it is very sweet. Yet Italian hot chocolate can actually be pretty mild – it’s more about the cocoa and cream combination and less about the sugar. Like American hot chocolate, the Italian version can come in many varieties, including milk, dark, and even white chocolate. It can also be infused with specialty flavors like hazelnut, vanilla, and carmel. Oh, decisions, decisions!
How to Make Italian Hot Chocolate
Surprisingly, Internet-based recipes for this Italian specialty are few and far between. But here is a recipe from the Joy of Cooking to get you started! Happy sipping!