Thick Italian Hot Chocolate

A side view of a cup of Italian hot chocolate topped with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and a piece of chocolate.

5 from 2 reviews

Thick Italian Hot Chocolate, or Ciocolatta Calda in Italian, is a delightfully easy dessert that is rich, creamy, and comforting. Like all authentic Italian cooking, it focuses on the quality of the ingredients like good dark chocolate melted into rich whole milk (or a mixture of coconut milk and water for the dairy-free version).


Units Scale
  • 1 cup whole milk (or 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk plus 1/2 cup water)
  • 1 1/2 ounces (50 grams) dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch or potato starch


  1. Milk and Starch: In a small saucepan on medium low heat, warm the milk, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until it begins to steam. Then reduce heat to prevent boiling. Meanwhile, mix the corn or potato starch in 1 tablespoon of cold milk or water and set aside.
  2. Mix it together: Add the dark chocolate, sugar, and cocoa powder to the pot. Whisk together until smooth and chocolate has melted.
  3. Thicken: Add the corn starch mixture to the pot and whisk until smooth. Use the whisk in one direction only (clockwise or counterclockwise) with a mix of large and small circular motions. Remove the hot chocolate from heat before it reaches your desired thickness because it will continue to cook and thicken.
  4. Serve: Serve hot by itself or with a dollop of whipped cream.


Storage: I recommend enjoying this recipe as soon as you make it. If you choose to store it, allow to cool to room temperature then keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a small pot on the stove on medium heat, whisking frequently to break up any clumps.

Texture tip: Adjust the starch amount and cooking time to reach your desired thickness. I recommend starting with 2 teaspoons of starch and removing the mixture from heat as soon as it is smooth and well-incorporated. If you prefer it only slightly thickened, use 1 teaspoon of starch. If you like it very thick, almost like pudding, you can double the starch and heat the mixture longer.

Dairy-Free and Vegan - While you can use any plant-based dairy-free milk for this recipe, our recipe trials found that lite coconut milk or a 50/50 split of full-fat coconut milk and water made the most authentic Italian Hot Chocolate.

Without corn starch - Potato starch will yield the exact same result and is what we usually use in this recipe to make it corn-free. Arrowroot and tapioca starch will have a similar effect but can get a little chewy, so avoid them if possible.

Gluten-Free - Select gluten-free chocolate, cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, and milk (if using dairy-free) brands and use a starch that is safe for gluten-free eaters. Since corn starch is commonly produced with wheat, I prefer to use a gluten-free labeled potato starch.

Refined Sugar-Free - Swap the confectioner's sugar with coconut sugar or maple syrup.

Keywords: thick hot chocolate, italian hot chocolate, hot chocolate for two