Significantly known to raise my endorphin levels and put me in a very happy place, Italian style drinking chocolate is NOT to be confused with hot cocoa. Drinking chocolate is thick as soft pudding and not too sweet. Served in cafe’s and bars throughout Italy as cioccolata calda (hot chocolate), it is frothy yet dense with a deep chocolate flavor. Often served con panna, with whipped cream, it is meant to be sipped and savored.
You can make Italian style drinking chocolate on the stove top by slowly stirring the chocolate into the measured amount of milk or you can invest in a European style Hot Chocolate maker. There are several models on the market from cafe quality machines that cost over a thousand dollars to the $99.00 Bialetti brand, best known for the iconic Moka pot (the Italian version of the stove top coffee brewer). In Italy sachets of chocolate powder and milk are blended and therein lies the secret to this iconic drink -the chocolate powder mixture. Eraclea, Slitti and Venchi making some of the best.
The purpose behind the blog ITALY IN 30 SECONDS is to offer a written shot of espresso to inform, excite and encourage you to experience Italy, the most recognizable geographic shape on the globe and what we think is the most perfectly constructed place on the planet. Combine that with one of the most perfectly constructed foods on the planet, chocolate, and you’ve got a the makings of a magical mystery tour through Tuscany’s Chocolate Valley, the geletarie of Milan and the chocolate factories of Turin and Perugia.
So little time so much chocolate and a business class seat on Alitalia nowhere in sight. Warm up this winter with a melted Italian chocolate fondue or molten chocolate cake made with Cuor di Cacao Chocolate Hazelnut Cream from the “heart of the chocolate” by Venchi, a name known throughout Italy for exceptional chocolate. This extra dark Cuor di Cacao combines the intense flavors of 75% Ecuadorian chocolate with hazelnuts to make a gianduja, a rich creamy hazelnut spread that is beloved by all Italians. Think Nutella all grown up. The small size is perfect for a 30 second chocolate break or a portable pocket picnic at the ski chalet.
Tom Hanks’ admonition to the riders of the Polar Express to “Never ever let it cool!” is something you would never have to tell Italians when it comes to drinking hot chocolate. For most Italians Cioccolata calda (hot chocolate) is the next best thing to gelato when there’s a chill in the air.
Now I’m not taking about the insipid, watery hot chocolate with a marshmallow on top most of us grew up with. I’m talking about cocoa with forza, strength. So much so that you need a spoon to drink or should I say eat it. It’s easy to forge an emotional attachment to drinking chocolate, as it’s called in Europe. My love affair with Italian drinking chocolate began in Citta’di Castello on a piazza near the Hotel Tifferno (one of my favorite places to stay when I’m traveling in Umbria). It was deep, dark, thick and creamy and unforgettable, with a head of cream (con panna) that rivaled a fine Guinness. A pefect drink to see and savor Italy when the weather turns cool.
Read more about authentic Italian Drinking Chocolate.