The first chocolate drink is believed to have been created by the Maya around 2,500–3,000 years ago, and a cocoa drink was an essential part of Aztec culture by 1400 AD, by which they referred to as xocōlātl. The drink became popular in Europe after being introduced from Mexico in the New World and has undergone multiple changes since then. Until the 19th century, hot chocolate was even used medicinally to treat ailments such as liver and stomach diseases.
Hot chocolate is consumed throughout the world and comes in multiple variations, including the spiced chocolate para mesa of Latin America, the very thick cioccolata calda served in Italy and chocolate a la taza served in Spain, and the thinner hot cocoa consumed in the UK and United States.
Why not try our Hot Chocolate recipes below?
Italian Hot Chocolate
650ml (1pt) milk
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp light brown sugar
50g (2oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
3 tbsp cornflour
mini marshmallows, to serve
Put the milk in a pan with the cocoa, sugar, chocolate and a pinch of salt. Melt over a low heat, stirring. Don’t boil.
In a bowl, mix the cornflour with 2 tablespoons of water. Pour the mixture into the pan and bring to the boil, whisking with a wire whisk. Simmer for a few minutes, beating all the time, until thickened. Divide between 6 cups. Serve plain, or topped with some mini marshmallows.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
500ml whole milk
2 cinnamon sticks (use Mexican cinnamon sticks for a distinctly floral, sweeter taste), plus extra to serve
2 tbsp dark cocoa powder (see tip, below)
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp brown sugar
Pour the milk into a medium saucepan, add the cinnamon sticks and stir frequently over a medium heat (don’t let it boil) until the milk is fragrant, about 5 mins.
Remove and discard the cinnamon sticks, then add the cocoa, vanilla, chilli powder and sugar. Remove from the heat and whisk until the mixture is smooth and frothy – this will only take a couple of minutes. Divide between two mugs and garnish with fresh cinnamon sticks.
Hungarian Hot Chocolate
500ml whole milk
1 tsp hot paprika
½ tsp finely ground white pepper
¼ tsp ground cloves
200g semisweet chocolate, chopped
In a small saucepan, whisk milk, paprika, white pepper, and cloves over medium-low heat until almost boiling. Add chocolate and stir until chocolate is fully melted. Whisk to froth, and then pour into mugs and serve immediately.
Colombian Hot Chocolate with Cheese
500ml skim milk
6 squares of Colombian bitter hot chocolate bar, finely chopped
100g of honey
½ tsp cinnamon
100g of white cheese. Quesito Colombiano if you can find it. Otherwise, fresh mozzarella will work.
In a small saucepan, whisk all the ingredients minus the cheese together over high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2-3 minutes while stirring often. Cut cheese into quarter inch cubes. Divide cheese evenly into four mugs, fill with hot chocolate, and stir until cheese is melted.
Indian Chai Spiced Hot Chocolate
½ tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cardamom or 4 pods, crushed
2 whole star anise
2 Tbsp brown sugar
300ml of milk
150g of white chocolate chips
In a small saucepan, whisk water, ginger, cardamom, and star anise together over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and then add brown sugar and milk, stirring until fully dissolved. Reduce heat to low and add white chocolate. Bring to preferred temperature but don’t let it boil. Remove star anise, pour into mugs, and serve immediately.