This homemade Italian Hot Chocolate AKA Cioccolata Calda will rival any you’ve tasted from Angelina’s Parisian version to those lack-luster packet mixes!

This dreamy liquid chocolate is perfect for post sledding or skiing, or anytime you need to warm up from the inside out. It’s the Best Hot Chocolate bar none!!

Cup of Italian hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings

Why You’ll Love Italian Hot Chocolate 

  • It’s thicker and richer than American hot chocolate.
  • In fact, it’s so thick and luscious you can eat it with a spoon!
  • You only need a small cup to get your fix.

It was a sad day in our house. There were NO homemade desserts and Bill was scrounging in the pantry for some Mega-Stuf Oreos.

I’m more likely to bake up some Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups than ordinary hot chocolate, but I had been wanting to share this European version, for the past couple of months. It was finally cold enough to feel right. When I offered this up for dessert, there were no objections, especially when garnished with a mound of mini marshmallows!

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between Hot Chocolate and Hot Cocoa?

Though the terms are often used interchangeably, there are differences between the two. Hot cocoa is typically made with cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. It’s sweeter and lighter than hot chocolate.

Hot chocolate has melted chocolate mixed into milk or cream. Since the chocolate is already sweet, little to no sugar is needed.

What's the Difference between Italian and American Hot Chocolate?

Italian hot chocolate is thicker, creamier, and richer than American and French hot chocolate. Traditionally, it has a thickening agent like cornstarch or arrowroot added along with some dark chocolate.

American hot chocolate is less dense, milkier, and made with cocoa powder versus chocolate.

How Do You Eat Cioccolata Calda?

Since it’s so decadent, serve in small cups. Offer a spoon, but it’s also perfectly appropriate to sip from the cup.

Top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate or even mini marshmallows for an American twist.

Two mugs of Italian Hot Chocolate on a white tray

Tips for Making Homemade Hot Chocolate

  • Use good quality chocolate for the best results.
  • Make sure to cook the hot chocolate for 3-4 minutes to remove any starchy flavor (when making the Italian version).
  • Serve with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or even marshmallows.
  • Serve in demitasse cups as a little goes a long way.
  • Offer spoons for those who’d like to eat rather than sip!

My family got their first taste of European hot chocolate while in Paris. We didn’t try the world-renowned version from Angelina’s but instead followed my friend, and fellow blogger, Jill of Mad About Macarons, to an exquisite pastry shop and restaurant nestled in a narrow lane off of the Boulevard Saint-Germain.

It was at Une Dimanche à Paris where my family gorged on sweets and ordered their thick and luscious hot chocolate to wash those down. It was definitely a chocolate overload for my generally bottomless pit sons! Now we need to get back to Italy and enjoy the real deal, Italian Hot Chocolate.  Cioccolata Calda here we come!!

This dreamy beverage was almost like drinking thick, hot, melted chocolate ice cream. Totally decadent. Totally divine. I don’t think there were any regrets.

Thick Italian hot chocolate in a white coffee cup with a red handle spoon inserted

Perfect After Dinner Treat!

I’ve been known to use those hot chocolate packets or mix a generous scoop of Nestles’ Quik into some hot milk for a treat after sledding or snow blowing. If you want to up the ante for company or a special occasion, serve this decadent Italian Hot Chocolate.

Topped with marshmallows or whipped cream and chocolate shavings, it’s even suitable for dessert!

Hot Chocolate Ingredient Notes:

  • Half and Half – Richer than whole milk but not as rich as heavy cream
  • Arrowroot – A thickening agent like cornstarch. I found it at Whole Foods and Fresh Market locally.
  • Sugar – Just a touch of additional sweetness
  • Semisweet Chocolate – The quality will be reflected in the taste of your hot chocolate so use the best you can afford. I used Ghirardelli brand.
  • Real Vanilla Extract – Never use imitation vanilla. Check the label. I use Nielsen-Massey brand.
  • Whipped cream, candies and/or mini marshmallows – to garnish, optional

More Recipes You’ll Love:

Ciaoccolate Calda in a white ceramic cup on a saucer with a red handled spoon and marshmallow garnish

Italian Hot Chocolate or Cioccolata Calda

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 8 servings

A rich and delectable Italian hot chocolate!


  • 1 3/4 cups half and half
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot (I found at Whole Foods and Fresh Market)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Whipped cream or mini marshmallows, to garnish, optional


  1. Mix 1/4 cup of the half and half with the arrowroot in a small cup till well blended and smooth. Set aside.
  2. Put the remaining half and half and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  3. When bubbles begin forming around the edges of the pan, add the arrowroot mixture and whisk until blended and slightly thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate and vanilla and continue to whisk until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.
  5. Serve in demitasse cups with whipped cream or mini marshmallows.


Use 2 teaspoons of arrowroot for extra thick hot chocolate!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 151Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 35mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 1gSugar: 14gProtein: 2g


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