French style hot chocolate is decadent, it can’t be denied. Luxuriously rich, smooth, creamy and oh so chocolatey.
It was introduced to the court of Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV but it was his grandson Louix XV who made it a feature of Versailles cuisine. During his reign, the popularity of hot chocolate soared – the King even took to making it himself, so enamoured was he of the rich drink. During his reign the first chocolate making machines were invented and specialist outlets were set up in Paris.
Marie-Antoinette even bought her personal chocolate-maker with her from Austria when she married Louis XVI in 1770.
It was expensive though, so didn’t really become popular with everyone until the 19th century when factories such as Menier opened to produce it en masse.
Hot chocolate fit for royalty
You could make it like King Louis XV whose recipe is as follows:
Place an equal number of bars of chocolate and cups of water in a cafetiere and boil on a low heat for a short while; when you are ready to serve, add one egg yolk for four cups and stir over a low heat without allowing to boil. It is better if prepared a day in advance. Those who drink it every day should leave a small amount as flavouring for those who prepare it the next day. Instead of an egg yolk one can add a beaten egg white after having removed the top layer of froth. Mix in a small amount of chocolate from the cafetiere then add to the cafetiere and finish as with the egg yolk.
Source: Dinners of the Court or the Art of working with all sorts of foods for serving the best tables following the four seasons, by Menon, 1755 (BnF, V.26995, volume IV, p.331)
Or you could make it like a Parisian! We asked Paris-based Ian Benton of La Chambre Paris luxury linen bedding to share his favourite recipe for hot chocolate the way the French make it, perfect for a lazy lie-in…
Ingredients for French hot chocolate
2 cups whole milk
6 ounces/170g top quality dark or bittersweet chocolate (at least 70%)
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional and according to taste)
Tiny pinch of sea salt
Whipped cream for serving (optional)
Powdered cinnamon if you want a bit of Christmas cheer
Heat the milk in a pan until it’s hot and bubbles appear, but not boiling. Add the salt and the finely chopped dark chocolate and whisk until dissolved and smooth.
Heat it to a very low simmer, whisking continuously, but don’t let it boil. Simmer for about three minutes during which time it will thicken.
Stir in the brown sugar if you like your hot chocolate sweet, and whisk until smooth.
Pour into cups.
For extra decadence serve with a dollop of whipped cream. And for a little Christmas cheer, sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon powder over the cream.
Note: For an even thicker result, make the hot chocolate ahead of time, let it cool and then reheat when ready to serve.