Spicy Hot Chocolate for Grown Ups

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There’s a scene in the movie Chocolat that mesmerizes me every time I watch it.

Judy Dench’s character hobbles in to the chocolaterie and hoists herself up onto a stool.  Vienne, the shop keeper, spins a disk of Mayan art and asks what the old woman sees.  “I see a cranky old woman too tired to play games,” she growls.

“I have just the thing for you,” Vienne assures her, and she steps over to a copper pot resting on a hot plate.  From this, she pours the most divine looking chocolate liquid into a mug, tops it with “a special kind of chili pepper” and a dollop of whipped cream.   One commenter on YouTube describes it as, “an elixir of pure seduction and primal desire”.  I tend to agree.  It just looks magical!

The old woman drinks it and says, “it tastes like….”  She trails off, then gives a little chuckle.

That’s the kind of hot chocolate I want!date-night-hot-chocolate

A grown-up hot chocolate to enthrall the senses and bewitch the mind.

This is something you cannot get from a packet!  In fact, it doesn’t even qualify for the name Hot Chocolate.  It’s a drinking chocolate, a chocolate beverage so rich, it’s only a few shades away from being a sauce, but not so rich as to be undrinkable.

I make a lot of different hot chocolate recipes.  I have tried the “Christmas Eve Crock Pot Hot Chocolate” in various forms on Pinterest.  I’ve created my own milky blend for my children.  For your everyday Hot Chocolate, I really love the recipe on the box of Hershey’s cocoa powder.  Really, it’s good.

But none of those was even remotely similar to the cacao elixir in Chocolat.

So, I turned to Pinterest, of course. At least once a year, when the weather gets cold, I scour the internet for the hot chocolate recipe to suit my desires.  Most of my search terms lead me to some alcoholic version of hot chocolate.  That’s not what I wanted.  *sad face*

What’s a girl to do?  Make it up herself, I suppose.

A Sophisticated, Complex, Adult Hot ChocolateChocolat-hot-cocoa

I’ve tried many different things over the years.  Melted chocolate or cocoa powder? Whole Milk?  Cream? Half-and-half?  Cocoa and butter?  Really, it’s been a long quest. The result of all my experimenting has been….lots of warm bellies and chocolate stained mugs.  Not really a problem! And also, this sophisticated hot chocolate that’s perfect for you and your sweetie any  day of the year, but I think it’s especially suited to Valentine’s Day.

Chocolate is the best part of Valentine’s Day celebrations.  And this is the best of chocolate.

If you’ve any doubt about a deep, dark, chocolate beverage, I challenge you to watch this scene.  You’ll be in the kitchen whipping this up before you can say Drinking Chocolate!

Grown-Up, Sophisticated Hot Chocolate

You’ll need:
6 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder

1/3 C Sugar

1 C coffee–this can be leftover coffee, just brewed, or replace it with plain water if you need to

1 C milk

1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla

whipped cream for topping

In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the cocoa, sugar and about 1/2 the coffee.  Once the powders are incorporated, add the salt, cayenne, and cinnamon and the rest of the coffee. Whisk to combine. Add milk and heat til foamy hot, but do not scald the milk.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream.  I mean, you can use marshmallows if that’s your thing, but you’ll really appreciate the whipped cream.  It balances the richness.

That dash of cayenne is really what makes this unique! You don’t really taste it, it just adds a lingering heat that you don’t expect.  Quite satisfying!

Sophisticated Hot Chocolate
Recipe Type: Beverage
Cuisine: Dessert
Author: Christina at Marthamarthablog.com
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2 servings
A mature, rich, dark drinking chocolate with a little kick!
  • 6 Tbps Cocoa Powder
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1 C coffee
  • 1 C milk
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • whipped cream for topping
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together cocoa powder, sugar and about half the coffee. When well combined, add cayenne, cinnamon, salt and the rest of the coffee. Add milk and heat til foamy and warm, but do not scald. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  2. Serve with whipped cream topping.




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  1. Abilene wrote:

    Love the post Christina! I’ll be trying it out over the holiday 😉 I’m not a coffee drinker, have you tried it without yet? I don’t want to throw off the taste too much!

    Posted 2.2.16 Reply
    • Christina wrote:

      Yes, you can definitely try it with water instead of coffee. I like it both ways. Coffee adds a depth of flavor that I prefer, but water is delicious too!

      Posted 2.3.16 Reply
  2. Jennette wrote:

    Sounds yummy! But I’m not sure I’m brave enough to add the cayenne pepper. Ha! I will have to try it one of these days before it gets warmer. 🙂

    Posted 2.6.16 Reply
    • Christina wrote:

      Oh, be brave! The cayenne pepper was the missing ingredient that took me years to figure out. It’s truly the best part. Not enough to make it spicy or taste like Mexican food, but just enough that after you sip it there’s a different sort of heat in the back of your throat. 🙂 Yummy!

      Posted 2.8.16 Reply