It’s no secret that Europeans have a love affair with chocolate. So it’s not surprising that hot chocolate is one of the most beloved beverages in Europe during the holiday season, and all throughout the winter months.
Hot chocolate – also called drinking or sipping chocolate, goes by many names across Europe: France – Chocolat Chaud; Italy – Cioccolato Caldo, Spain – Chocolate Caliente; Austria – Wiener Schokolade, etc.
But no matter the name, any hot chocolate you order in Europe is nearly guaranteed to be quite different and incredibly better than any traditional hot chocolate you find in the U.S. (yes, I’m talking about the thin, watery hot chocolate made from a powder or syrup). In other words, this is not your grandmother’s or mother’s hot chocolate.
While I had traditional American hot chocolate loads of times as a child, I didn’t fully experience the immense joy and indulgent nature of drinking or sipping chocolate until I first traveled to Spain many years ago. Hot chocolate in Spain, in particular Barcelona, is completely next level hot chocolate. And, for my first experience, I had no idea what I was getting hooked on until the server brought me my first cup. It was a complete surprise to find that their version of hot chocolate was a very thick, smooth and creamy melted chocolate mixture, almost like a thick fondue sauce, not too sweet, with a large dollop of heavy whipped cream on top. With one stir, I knew there was no way I was drinking this like normal hot chocolate – but rather I needed to enjoy it bite by bite, with a tiny spoon or dripping from a warm, crunchy churro.
This past January, I had the joy of introducing my two children to Spanish hot chocolate (we miss you Granja Dulcinea!). They were equally as smitten with the new version of the hot drink – so much so that we had the drink (and churros) twice over three days!
Lucky for us – and anyone who loves hot chocolate – this thicker style drinking chocolate is not limited to Spain but can be found in many other European countries. In fact, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying it in Italy, England, France, and even Norway! European style hot chocolate is also becoming more popular in the U.S. – you can actually order it at some of the Nordstrom’s cafes!
But fear not hot chocolate lovers! Even if you can’t find European style hot chocolate in a restaurant or cafe near you, there are plenty of recipes online that show you step by step how to make this delicious beverage right in your own home – and with just a few ingredients that you can pick up at any grocery store.
Here are a few recipes to get you started.
- France – Chocolat Chaud
- Italy – Cioccolato Caldo
- Spain – Chocolate Caliente
- Austria – Wiener Schokolade