The ultimate Hot Chocolate experience is made like coffee with a French Press using cocoa nibs. Learn how to make it.
How many of you when you think of hot chocolate think of a package of Swiss Miss?
Just open the package, stir it into some hot water and drink.
As a kid you probably loved it. As an adult does this really satisfy your chocolate craving?
And how exciting are you to down some mono and diglyderides, artificial flavor, and carrageenan. Who needs those ingredients and who needs the Swiss (sorry Miss).
How do these ingredients sound cocoa nibs, whole milk, bittersweet chocolate, sugar, water, and a pinch of kosher salt? I can easily pronounce all those words.
Cocoa nibs, that is close as most of us are going to get to using the actual cocoa beans themselves. I wish I would have thought up this magnificent idea, but the credit has to go to my number one source for culinary inspiration, Alton Brown.
Grind the Nibs in a Coffee Grinder
This way of making hot chocolate is more like making a cup of coffee. I am sure you can see the benefits of that! And just like whole bean coffee, freshly ground is better, hot chocolate made from freshly ground cocoa nibs is too!
You will need a spice or coffee grinder to grind up the cocoa nibs. You are going to “brew” them as you would coffee.
I have a Cuisinart coffee grinder that I use for spices. It managed to make short work out of the cocoa nibs. I ground them until they just like coffee grounds.
Microwave the Milk
Alton heats up the milk and cocoa nibs in the microwave. You might think oh no how can a respectable cook use a microwave. Isn’t that for those frozen processed meals?
Have you ever boiled milk on the stove, turned your back, and seconds later heard the sizzling sound of milk burning on your stove top. A 3 minute trip in the microwave will help you afford that mistake and still accomplish the goal here which is to heat up the milk for the cocoa nibs to steep in it.
Finish in a French Press
The final steps involve a french press. They can be had on the cheap, I found mine at IKEA, the more expensive ones can set you back around $50-60.
That might be seen as the old fashion way to make coffee but a lot of coffee lovers swear by them (my wife certainly does).
You could do this recipe without it, just mix together the cocoa nib mixture (straining first) with the chocolate, sugar, water, and salt.
Why Use a French Press?
The french press is nice because you can aerate the hot chocolate giving it a better texture on the tongue. Trust me, it’s so worth it.
It’s also nice easy to serve the Hot Chocolate from a French Press. It’s like a carafe.
Why Make this Hot Chocolate?
This isn’t your grandma’s hot chocolate. This is true HOT CHOCOLATE. It is rich. Some people might want to cut it with some more milk. I love this hot chocolate, it’s way better than anything you will get out of an envelope.
The downside to it, is that it takes longer to make, so instant gratification is not possible. I started the steeping right before I went out shoveling so it would be ready for when I really needed it.
Buying Cocoa Nibs
Cocoa nibs are expensive. An 8 oz container can run upward of $10 in the grocery store. If you can buy them in bigger quantities you can save money. I once found a great deal on them at an Amish bulk store in Shipshewana, Indiana.
Can’t find nibs in your local store? Just order them online.
Chocolate Buying Tip
Besides the nibs, the recipe also calls for bittersweet chocolate.
A money and time saving suggestion – buy chocolate chunks available at Trader Joe’s. They aren’t like the chunks you buy in the Nestle bags. They are not uniform, they just look like a bar of chocolate that has already been cut up. The bags are 10 oz each and cost $1.99, which is a ton cheaper than most chunks of chocolate you find. Plus I didn’t even have to break up my knife and cutting board.
Other Chocolate Recipes to Try
Alton Brown’s Cocoa Nib Hot Chocolate
A recipe by Alton Brown for Cocoa Nib Hot Chocolate made in a french press. Instructions written in my own words.
Place the cocoa nibs into a coffee/spice grinder. Pulse several times. Doesn't need to be a fine powder, the nibs will still be somewhat coarse.
Mix the cocoa nibs with the whole milk. Place into the microwave and heat on high fr 3-4 minutes until the milk is around 160 degrees. Don't let it boil over.
Allow to steep for 30 minutes before proceeding.
In a clean French press, combine the chopped bittersweet chocolate, sugar, water, and salt.
After the 30 minutes is up, return the milk/nib mixture to the microwave and heat on high for 2 minutes. The milk should be around 185 degrees.
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, before adding to the French Press.
Pump the French Press about 15 times to aerate. Best served immediately, once it's not too hot to drink.
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