Recreating the hot chocolate from City Bakery in NYC
November 24, 2013 5:42 PM   Subscribe

What is the richest hot chocolate recipe you know? I'm looking for something starts off, "grate baker's chocolate into a bain-marie of heavy cream..." and produces something so rich I can nurse a "small" serving for almost an hour because every sip fills my mouth with chocolate flavor.

The gold standard here is the hot chocolate sold by City Bakery in NYC. The flavor is as strongly chocolate as just chewing 90% baker's chocolate. The mouthfeel is like drinking warm heavy cream, but more viscous. It sort of glistens like ganache, but doesn't coat a spoon the same way. If you make it frothy with an immersion blender, the froth remains for a good fifteen minutes.
posted by d. z. wang to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 58 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: To be honest, most of the richest hot chocolate I've had simply is (very) thin ganache made from bittersweet chocolate and heavy cream, sometimes thickened with a bit of cornstarch.
posted by saeculorum at 5:49 PM on November 24, 2013

Best answer: Well, you can simply melt good chocolate into milk just off a simmer - something like 2oz per cup. This is a recipe for a thin ganache so that's what I thought of when you mentioned that.

On preview, saeculorum said just that, so I will just add that this is amazing with some Chambord in it.
posted by ftm at 5:51 PM on November 24, 2013

Best answer: Although if you're looking for a (slightly less than "richest") recipe, I highly recommend David Lebovitz's Parisian Hot Chocolate recipe. The "make ahead" technique is helpful; I also suggest serving with some crumbled salted caramel.
posted by saeculorum at 5:52 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd go with something like Ina Gartner's recipe. Oh and I'd suggest not using Baker's chocolate. Use high-quality stuff like Guittard or Valrhona.
posted by shivohum at 5:52 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

The stuff from Williams Sonoma is pretty darn thick, especially with the marshmallows.
posted by capricorn at 6:19 PM on November 24, 2013

I haven't tried City Bakery, and I don't have a recipe to offer, but for me the asymptote to reach for would be a single-origin hot chocolate from Burdick's in Harvard Square, Cambridge. Mind-numbingly good, and super-rich. I look forward to trying CB when in NYC.

Hmm, they don't seem to offer single-origin choc by mail. Also, looks like they have other locations now.
posted by spbmp at 6:38 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

A friend of mine had very good success with hot chocolate thickened and enriched with eggs tempered in.
posted by clockzero at 6:39 PM on November 24, 2013

City Bakery sells their hot chocolate in little cartons now; you could get one and check out the ingredient list, if that might help.
posted by mlle valentine at 6:40 PM on November 24, 2013

It's hard to go wrong with Pierre Hermé's recipe, as made famous by Jeffrey Steingarten. It uses a combo of melted chocolate and cocoa powder.
posted by bcwinters at 6:48 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ghiradelli's Hot Sipping Chocolate is amazingly decadent. You can use any brand of chocolate you like in it.
posted by xingcat at 6:51 PM on November 24, 2013

I use almost equal amounts of cocoa powder and sugar -- spend money on the cocoa powder! Valrhona is what I have at the moment -- and melt this with just enough water to turn it into a thick syrup. That's the base; easy to store in the fridge. When I want hot chocolate, I take a few spoonfuls of that glop and heat it with white chocolate, which adds a good bit of rich buttery goodness, and the rest is just hot full-fat milk stirred in.
posted by kmennie at 7:14 PM on November 24, 2013

Keto pudding-- Trader Joe's Coconut Cream mixed with Ghiradelli's cocoa powder and stevia
posted by ohshenandoah at 7:21 PM on November 24, 2013

I don't have a specific recipe for you, but a suggestion: when making it, add some salt or alcohol. Either will really help the chocolate flavor come out even more intensely.
posted by meese at 7:31 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is the recipe you want; the result is just as you describe. When at the restaurant I always add a bit of salt and tip in a bit of cognac. A baguette is a nice accompaniment, too.
posted by HotToddy at 7:34 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have never had anything as good as Spanish chocolate, ever in the entire world. Chocolateria San Gines in Madrid makes the best, but Valor is pretty good too. You can buy Valor for making chocolate de la taza from La Tienda. They sell other brands too but without churros you will only get a partial effect.
posted by JJ86 at 7:51 PM on November 24, 2013

I have a coworker who used to make Chocolat Chaud in the office, and it was like drinking a molten chocolate bar. HotToddy's recipe looks like about what I remember. (I'm sure you could just use 1oz of bittersweet chocolate if you didn't happen to have both bittersweet and unsweetened on hand.) I successfully made it at home once - the key as I understood it was the whisking constantly part. Like, for 10 minutes straight if you can stand it; the aeration really helps give it that super-thick consistency.
posted by usonian at 7:55 PM on November 24, 2013

I think to get close to City Bakery's wonderful elixir you would have to make the recipe with all heavy cream, no milk at all. I hope you find an answer to this; that stuff is magic.
posted by bink at 11:24 PM on November 24, 2013

Beyond heavy cream. they might use manufacturing cream.
posted by rhizome at 12:22 AM on November 25, 2013

I just remembered that the aforementioned coworker actually used a stick blender instead of a whisk.
posted by usonian at 5:02 AM on November 25, 2013

I've never been to CB, but the Craigie on Main hot chocolate is very rich and tasty. They use whole milk and butter.

I also favorited the Burdick's recommendation, though, because that is the Best hot cocoa I've ever had, hands down.
posted by ldthomps at 11:12 AM on November 25, 2013

The richest recipe I have is:

3 c milk
1/2 c sugar (less is fine)
1/8 tsp. cayenne (or one shake)
1 tsp allspice
1 Tbsp. vanilla
zest of 1 orange
simmer 1 -2 min until sugar dissolved
remove from heat

Pour into blender with:
1-1 1/2 c chocolate chips (8 1/2 oz./ 250 grams)

If you have any leftover, it generally is more like mousse in the fridge, than like a liquid.
posted by Margalo Epps at 1:47 PM on November 25, 2013

Best answer: I do my hot chocolate in the microwave. It's super super simple:


Semisweet or bittersweet chocolate couverture wavers (I usually use E. Guittard 61%)

I do everything by eye / to taste, but I guess if you want some kind of number, I fill the mug ~1/5 of the way with the chocolate discs.

Put some chocolate in a mug. Add enough half-and-half it to cover the chocolate. Microwave on 50% power until ... it's hot. Take it out and stir it. If it's not hot enough, you will be stirring a slurry of chocolate parts and milk - put it back in the microwave and heat it some more. When it is hot enough it will suddenly thicken as you stir, and will come out smooth and dark. Fill the rest of the mug with half-and-half, stir, put it back in the microwave, and heat it until it's a pleasant drinking temperature.

To make it richer still, use more chocolate, and/or use richer dairy (light cream or heavy cream).

To make it better, add irish cream.
posted by aubilenon at 4:43 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Just tried the "thin ganache" idea: a pint of not-quite-boiling heavy cream poured over 6 oz unsweetened chocolate and a heaping spoonful of table sugar, whisked vigorously for fifteen minutes. Stirred a bit of it into hot milk until it tasted right and saved the rest in a jar in the refrigerator.

Next time, I'll probably use semisweet chocolate; unsweetened was what I had on hand.

Just one question: unlike what was served at City Bakery, mine forms a skin within a minute or two. It breaks up when I stir it, but always reforms. Is there some trick to avoiding the skin?
posted by d. z. wang at 9:26 PM on November 27, 2013

I believe the skin is caused by overheating some of the proteins in the milk, which denatures (unwinds) them. They then get tangled up and stick together in a skin. This is the same thing that causes eggs to solidify, and it happens at roughly the same temperature: ~180 F.

Chocolate has a lower melting point than this; something like 120 F. This why my otherwise half-assed recipe ("add everything to taste!") does call for heating the chocolate along with the milk. If you add hot milk to cool chocolate, you need to heat the milk quite a bit in order to melt the chocolate, and risk scalding it. If you only heat the chocolate, it will resolidify when you add it to the cold milk.

If you prefer to heat the milk on a stove instead of in the microwave, just throw the chocolate in with it, and make sure you stir it frequently to keep the heat well distributed.
posted by aubilenon at 4:03 PM on December 3, 2013

Response by poster: Aubilenon: Will try this, thanks!
posted by d. z. wang at 7:16 PM on December 3, 2013

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