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Some recipes I make over and over again, and some I don’t. I’m not sure why, but once a recipe becomes part of my repertoire, I tend to be loyal and stick with it. However, as a diversion from my usual Parisian hot chocolate recipe, I often revisit this one, which I learned to make in Belgium. And every time I do, I remember how good it is!

I made this hot chocolate recipe when I did an internship at Wittamer, one of the best chocolate shops in Brussels. And let me tell you, there’s plenty of competition in that chocolate-centric city.

The head chocolatier, Michael Lewis gave me this recipe, which they serve in their chic tea salon overlooking the place Sablon. This recipe is simple enough to make any time you’re looking for a hot chocolate fix. Which for me, is often – especially in the winter.

Unlike other hot chocolates, this one uses a few squares of milk chocolate, and you should seek out a good-quality one. Most of the better milk chocolates list their percentage of cacao on the label (often between 30-35%) and taste better than the bars sold next to the supermarket check-out aisles, which are basically candy, not chocolate.

I included this recipe in The Great Book of Chocolate, where there’s also a story about my time working at Wittamer, dipping chocolates all day, then wrapping things in lovely bows for sale in the chic boutique. I was also fortunate enough to sample (i.e.; sneak in as many as I could, when no one was looking) most of their rich, creamy chocolates: one bite and it’s a no-brainer to see why Wittamer is “the” classic Belgian chocolate. This hot chocolate? It’s no slouch either.

Belgian Hot Chocolate

Adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate (Ten Speed) This recipe could easily be cut in half, although any extra can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If made ahead, it'll get richer as it sits and it can be easily rewarmed when ready to enjoy. This recipe serves four to six, although you might find it serves a few more than indicated. Leftover mix can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, and re-warmed in a saucepan over low heat. If you like thick hot chocolate, making it a day in advance will give it time to thicken up.
Servings 6 servings
  • 1 quart (1l) half-and-half or whole milk
  • 8 ounces (230g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 ounces (115g) milk chocolate, chopped
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • In a medium saucepan, warm about one-third of the half-and-half or milk, with the chopped dark and milk chocolates, stirring until the chocolate is melted.
  • Whisk in the remaining half-and-half or milk as well as the salt and cinnamon, heating until the mixture is warmed through.
  • Use a hand-held blender, or a whisk, to mix the hot chocolate until it’s completely smooth. (Do not use a standard blender as blending hot liquid can result in the lid coming off while blending.) While the chocolate is ready to serve now, if you let it sit for a few hours, it'll get richer and thicker the longer it sits.


Serving: In Belgium, this is often served with a poof of whipped cream and chocolate curls.


    • Federric Gao

    I finally find you.~and glad to see you. Mr Lebovitz.

    I’m from Shanghai China.I saw your life story in Paris from TV. How wonderful life you have had!

    I’ll add your Website as my Favouring Web list!

    • gastroanthropologist

    David, I’m not sure whether to love you or hate you right now. My hot chocolate addiction has gotten out of control. I’m currently drinking a cup every evening and putting cocoa in my coffee every afternoon. I’m a lover of ALL types – the powders and mixes, the syrup, the melt your own chocolate.

    My greatest mistake one time when working in the kitchen was making coffee truffles and for some reason my truffle mixture broke. It’s wasn’t a large batch and rather than try to salvage it I made it into staff hot chocolate for the whole kitchen! (Yah, the savory cooks sneaked me some foie and seared lamb bits that night during service!)

    Anyway, this hot chocolate had a bit of coffee, liquer, cream (and butter – it was for truffles). By far the most decadent, delicious hot chocolate I have ever had.

    People always forget the pinch of salt – its the secret ingredient in good hot chocolate!

    Oh, I’ve decided I’m loving you right now and I’m going to have two cups of hot chocolate in your honor. Cheers!

    • Angelica

    This post is making me rethink my staying-in-all-day that I had intended. God knows I could do with a chocolate fix right now!

      • saham

      :))) Great

    • Jennifer K

    I used to think I didn’t like hot chocolate because the only way I had it was from a powdered mix, and it was always too sweet. Then I had the real thing, made from melted chocolate and that’s the only way I’ll drink it now. This looks yummy, thanks!

    • Sandra

    In this awful, awful cold and snowy New England and this,”the winter of our discontent” that recipe could make me awfully contented. Something very good, chocolate-y and very very soothing.

    • Pia

    I’m in “Sunny Brazil” right now, but…it has been raining for three days =(
    A cup of that wonderful hot chocolate would greatly improve my mood.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Gera @ SweetsFoods

    David, although I’m in summer this recipe is so tempting that I can take it right now and it’s hot here. As a chocoholic this is a visual feast with chocolate of high quality!

    I’d like to make this recipe in the chilled version (more appropriate for hot days) but I don’t know the result… Thanks for give me a sweet day :)

    • Happy Cook

    Living in belgium i am so lucky to have good quality of chocolate.
    I am sure going to make this for my daughter and her friends.

    • Ceylan

    Lovely recipe. Just like how my grandmo used to make me drink milk when i was small… However;

    Switzerland chocolate (Lindt) in a Belgian Hot Chocolate recipe?
    Thats pretty interesting. I hope the milk is Belgian -at least.

    I remember Mr. Lebovitz confusing the origins of ingredients before as well…
    (i.e. yogurt)

    Ceylan Pojon from Istanbul.

    • Barbra

    I may very well make this later today. And yes, I am going to add a little booze and coffee. Whatever gets you through, right?

    Let me know if you change your mind about the whole intern thing, David, and I’ll be on the first plane over!

    • David

    Ceylan: The recipe is named because it comes from a chocolate shop in Belgium. Similarly, if a recipe is called All-American Brownies, I don’t think people expect the cacao in the chocolate, the sugar, and the vanilla beans in the extract to be sourced from within the United States.

    The same goes for the origin of ingredients in such items as New England Clam Chowder, salade Niçoise, Turkish coffee, Canadian bacon, Anzac biscuits, Irish coffee, and French fries.

    The dark chocolate tablets are from Barry-Callebaut, a French-Belgian alliance.

    • Eileen

    Gosh this looks good right now. The deep, deep cold here in Minnesota just won’t let up and hot chocolate is so comforting.

    • maggie

    Oh my, this looks incredible. I might need it, pronto. I have some great valrohna 70% feves that I think would work.

    • Elle

    One of the perks of living in the Midwest is that I don’t feel guilty at all making this for breakfast when it’s -3 outside.

    • Sara

    This looks great! I love a little bit of cinnamon in my hot chocolate.

    • sara

    Mmmm, this looks fantastic! Yum.

    • Laura

    This sounds like it would make a great dessert for a wintry Sunday night dinner as well. Thanks for the heads up on City Bakery…that’s a hard one to resist!

    • La Bonbonniere

    Oh my goodness! This looks wonderful-and perfect for the terrible weather we’ve been having in New England!

    • delphine

    oh dear, this looks much too good. I’ve been drinking a ridiculous amount of hot chocolate lately but I haven’t been making it from scratch.

    • Milena

    The stuff of my chocolatey dreams…

    • parisbreakfast

    AH HA!
    This is EXACTLY it!
    REAL hot chocolate is made with shaved.cut up chocolate bars not powder!!!
    The stage at Wittamer sounds like a dream come true…
    And thank you for the Festival announcement!!!
    Oh just THANK YOU period :)
    Yr site refuses to remember my personal it just me? Hmmm…

    Hi Carol: I don’t know why that happens to some folks, and not others. It remembers mine. It may have something to do with cookies? (I mean, the kind in your computer!) -dl

    • annie

    Have you ever tried Pierre Marcolini chocolates? He’s also based at the Sablon. I grew up in Brussels, but never *shock horror* enjoyed eating chocolates (note the ‘s’, I’ve always loved chocolate, would probably have my dual Belgian/Swiss nationality revoked otherwise) until I tried his. They are divine. I love Wittamer’s pastries (and the ice-cream cakes they sell at Christmas – almond milk ice cream, yum), but their chocolates just don’t do it for me.
    Have been reading this blog for ages but this is my first ever comment. Yours is one of the few food blogs I check every day!

    • Paula Maack

    A tiny pinch of salt!!! That’s the key, isn’t it?

    I have been trying to reproduce the Chocolate Africain served at Angelina (blogged about here), ever since I got back from Paris. My attempts have all been very tasty, but not the same.

    Maybe it is the lack of Parisian lighting, or the smell and bustle of Paris that is missing. Perhaps it is the cru of my chocolate. Most likely it is the latter. But, I am going to give the pinch of salt a try. Perhaps then, if I close my eyes, if will almost be the same.

    I haven’t been to Brussels yet. That will be part of my next European excursion, for sure. Your experience sounds wonderful.

    Thank you for refreshing the recipe for us. I shall happily sample it with my next jones, and look forward to the rest.


    ~ Paula

    • Susan

    I copied this recipe a few weeks ago when I copied your Best Chocolate Sauce. The sauce components I had available, so I made it..and my crush began! That sauce suspends so well in milk that I’ve not only used it in cold milk, but for hot chocolate as well and it is delicious. Sorry..I keep giving the sauce ovation after ovation on all these latest posts, but I’m so smitten! Now you’re turning my head with this one…so okay, already, I’ll move on. Are Lindt Chocolates good enough in this recipe?

    • Dawn in CA

    A festival devoted to hot chocolate? Genius. If every city had that, I think we would be one step closer to world peace. :)

    • Jenni

    The tiny pinch of salt (and sometimes not-so-tiny) is almost always the key to turning a good dessert into a great dessert:)

    I don’t know why more people don’t just melt chocolate in milk when they want hot chocolate. Those wee packets of powder should be banned:)

    Perhaps the merest pinch of cayenne would be a nice addition, as well.

    • Stephanie

    I cannot get through a cold winter day without a little bit of hot chocolate. Thanks for the easy recipe.

    • The Duo Dishes

    How great is the 3rd pic…the spoon just caressing the chocolate into a melted status. This is no doubt the best way to make hot chocolate. The best.

    • Ted Drake

    Where would you find the best Hot Chocolate in Paris? I’d heard about a place near the Tuilleries.

    • Linzy

    I can intern for you!

    • Anna

    aaaahhh… Angelina Cafe in Paris! Paula, you just made my head explode! Oh, that was the best hot chocolate — or chocolate anything — that I have EVER had!

    Well, OK, the fact that I was seated right next to the dessert case and stared at it for an entire hour of lunch surely helped. By the way, their Quiche Lorriane is fantastic, too.

    David — have you tied the hot chocolate at Angelina and is my rave justified? Like Paula I’ve not been able to replicate it back home here in NY and no one else in NY comes close to it either. I will try your recipe though — but only on a Sunday afternoon when I can nap for three hours right after!

    • Margie

    Oh no…. I panicked when I saw you were having some difficulty with the recipes. I mean, I SERIOUSLY BEGAN TO SWEAT BULLETS! I come to your site to hover over these lovelies, dive in when I feel brave, and stand tall when the final product is presented. My gosh, what if these babies were all gone?…I’d just have to volunteer to re-enter them for you. I’d do it free of charge, well, after the plane ticket to Paris and the front door stoop as my landing. You know….I’d probably have to beat a few hundred other folks off with my walking stick, but eventually I’d get to the rewrites for ya.

    P.S. I also work for chocolate. Especially if it’s hot chocolate. Especially if you brewed a bit of coffee and gave me a double-shot (Celebes or Yemen, but Costa Rican is okie-doke, too). ;)

    • Charissa

    David: How timely that I just posted my hot chocolate recipe – which now looks quite powdered and lame. Sigh.

    I must drive 90 miles each way to get this chocolate you speak of but, until then, I’ll look at the pictures and point anyone who stumbles onto my redition to you.

    I’m not worthy.

    • Charissa

    Don’t know if you can get Martha Stewart there…but the pastry chef from the new David Chang bakery Momofuku Milk Bar was on MSL – Martha also went to the bakery and made something called crack pie (like chess pie) with David Chang and Christina Tosi. I simply will have to try it.

    Anyway, it was worthy. They had a lot of really unusual offerings (like Peanut Butter cookies with Peanut brittle in them and some sort of a wicked looking banana hazelnut cake that was huge!) and Tosi also appeared in a later segment making Blueberries and Cream cookies that featured “milk crumbles” which they invented. They were powdered milk along with sugars and butter and a few other things that were baked and then crumbled and then stirred in.

    They also talked about this wild stuff they serve called Cereal milk. It’s basically cornflakes that they soak in milk and then push through a chinois (sp?) and serve.

    Anyway, it was pretty interesting and unique – check it out!
    Here’s a link to the recipes that they made today…recipes

    Oh and here’s a video link.

    Of course this has nothing to do with hot chocolate but I knew you would be interested.

    • Uncle Beefy

    Oh, David…it’s bad enough that you make me miss Paris, that you spike my appetite constantly (my pants are pretty upset with you…and the elastic waistbands are getting impatient!), but now THIS?!! Rich, glorious, hot chocolate! With Wittamer?!! It’s getting cruel quite frankly.

    Oh, and then the reminder about City Bakery’s Hot Chocolate Festival? That, sadly, I have no means to attend? What are you a sadist? ;)

    Sweet, sweet, torturous bliss nonetheless!

    • Mireille

    Good hot chocolate, especially if it’s Belgian Hot Chocolate should not be missed. Another chocolate recipe! Merci!

    • Diana jim

    David! You rock my world, I’m a little meximerican living in France for little under a month and I love love love love your blog, it is fun AND super helpful!!!

    Keep up the good work!

    • margaux

    David, have you tried a spiced hot chocolate? I used to work at a chocolate shop, too, and we made one by steaming whole milk, then adding dark chocolate pieces (we used Callebaut) and melting them in the hot milk with a cinnamon stick, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, a dash cardamom and a few cloves. Once the chocolate was melted, we’d briefly warm the whole thing up again and then strain out the spices before serving with whipped cream. Absolutely divine!

    • Hillary

    I am SO making this to relive my days visiting Belgium. While there I bought a couple hot chocolate sticks (sticks with chocolate to melt into hot milk) to give away as gifts. As soon as they were all gone, iI regretted not keeping one for myself! Argh. :)

    • Tisha

    I made this for a post-skiing party, and damn it was good. Several men AND women fell in love with me right then and there. You’re absolutely right about real chocolate being much better than cocoa powder. Thanks!

    • e-rock

    Thanks for the wonderful story and the excellent recipe for the drink. It may be sacrilegious, but I added a hint of vanilla essence and some high quality ground chili powder to give the chocolate a more central american feel. I also want to try this recipe with some espresso to make the ultimate mocha latte. Cheers!

    • Liz

    I usually make my hot chocolate from cocoa powder, but this looks fabulous!

    • ryan

    That looks delicious.
    I will write it down and try it the next really cold day.

    • mummyl

    Wow, that looks and sound delicious!

    • Shannon

    I’m glad to have found this. There is a wonderful ex-pat Belgian chocolatier who has a shop just north of my hometown in Connecticut and I totally fell for his chocolat chaud. Now that I live in the UK (land of terrible, over-sweet and faux chocolate products) I miss my Belgian chocolat chaud fix. I’ll give this recipe a try as soon as I can find decent chocolate because while it may be summer, in Northern England that means it’s still hot chocolate weather.

    Speaking of which, Gera@Sweet Foods, the chocolatier of whom I write serves a chilled chocolate in summer. It’s slightly lighter and the chocolate does go a bit grainy but I love it anyway. I suggest you give chilling a try.

    • capecodder

    you better not come round here thinking you can serve New England clam chowder with ingredients not New England. “thems fightin words in these parts”.

    Beer and Chocolate, no body does them like the Belgians (who cares about lace)

    I will try your recipe tonight!

    • thedelishdish

    I love Wittamer chocolate and am so glad I found this recipe. You’re right that you have to have a very high tolerance for rich chocolate to be able to drink very much of this, but it was so rich and chocolatey I just wish i could have kept going! Thanks for the recipe :)

    • The Food Hound

    I’m partial to Callebaut, and I’m lucky I can find it here in Knoxville! Belgian dishes warm my heart and remind me of the four fabulous years I spent there :) I so miss the thick chocolat chaud with a speculoos cookie on the side! Thanks for sharing, can’t wait to give this a shot!

    • Jeff

    Nice David — I can’t wait to try it…sounds much more similar to the recipe I make, compliments of my dear friend Lucy. Have you made anything similar to Lucy’s version?

    I’ve had great luck w/Callebaut … I’ve been fortunate to drink the drinking chocolate @ Angelina’s–somehow I missed the drinking chocolate in Belgium, but I drank plenty of beer and enjoyed a LOT of chocolate ;-)


    • Rosary Lescohier

    Couple questions about the “fleurette” container you have pictured:

    Is that whipping cream and if so, the equivalent of U.S. heavy cream?

    What doe “30%” on label mean?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      That’s roughly the equivalent of U.S. heavy cream. The 30% is the fat content, which is usually the fat percentage of liquid cream is in France; most American heavy cream is around 36-38% fat. Unless you go to a store geared toward professionals, you’ll have a hard time finding liquid heavy cream in France with a higher percentage of fat. (The French use crème fraîche, which is thicker and richer in many applications and is easy to find.) You can find more info at my post Ingredients for American Baking in Paris, which further explains the differences.

    • Jan

    This sounds dreamy. I had to laugh when the sidebar ad was for Keebler shortbread, with an elf dipping a cookie in coffee.

    • Margaret

    I had the most amazing hot chocolate served in a demitasse cup at the Chocolate Museum down the street from the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. It was really thick and tasted like melted chocolate. I wonder if this is a similar recipe?

    • Peggy White

    The most unusual and delicious hot chocolate I ever had was in Brussels.

    I was given a glass of hot milk and on top was a small white dish filled with dark chocolate chips.

    I mixed the chocolate into the milk myself and I have to say it was the most delicious hot chocolate I have ever tasted.

    • Renee

    Hmmm, grew up on Belgian chocolate. This recipe uses cinnamon, which i can’t tolerate. Can it be excluded or is it necessary for the chocolate?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      You can certainly skip the cinnamon. It’s a pretty small amount so you can omit.

    • Gavrielle

    Normally I find hot chocolate too sweet, but I had superb hot chocolates in Brussels so you’ve sold me! If you’re in the chocolating mood, how about a good recipe for Mexican hot chocolate? I brought home the discs you melt from there – again they were too sweet, but I love the idea of spiced chocolate and I’m sure it’s great if done from scratch with the right chocolate.

        • Gavrielle

        Many thanks David! Exactly what I was looking for!

    • Glen Murray

    In the refrigerator!
    For a week!

    • Alene

    Well, I am in SW Florida, and it is currently 49° F. While I would save your recipe, it’s unlikely I would ever prepare it living here.
    But it seems to be hot chocolate weather here, right now! Who knew? Good timing, David, and thank you.

    • abby

    David! Did you hear the collective groan from us all! I would have never (ever!) thought of making hot chocolate that way! Years ago, I made something from Cooks Illustrated and was so terribly disappointed! Hot chocolate with powdered milk does not go!!! I don’t think that will be the case with yours. I don’t drink coffee, so I will be out to buy the ingredients for this! (Oh, I would love to be your best friend/neighbour/guinea pig!!!)

    • Marge

    Missing the great Belgian chocolate! The taste is not the same with regular ingredients! Love this recipe!

    • Paule Caillat

    Wittamer is THE institution, pastry shop etc and in the middle of the Sablon. My mother’s family is from Brussels so I have known it forever; owners have changed, I think, but quality is still there.
    I approve !

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, it’s the classic Belgian chocolate. I don’t know if the family sold it. I looked at their Instagram account and there was a picture of Miriam Wittamer. Brussels is on my (very long) list of places I need to get back to!

    • witloof

    After reading your post about chocolate extract, I bought a small, very expensive bottle of Caswell-Massey brand and love it. Now I have a batch brewing in the cupboard. Would you add a touch of chocolate extract to this?

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve not used it in hot chocolate but a few drops certainly couldn’t hurt ; )

    • Natalie

    This hot chocolate looks divine and I bet it’s so rich and delicious!

    • Ellie Egles

    I’m commenting here on this post simply because it has open comments, but THANK YOU for such excellent recipes. Tonight I made your Spicy Morrocan Chicken Kebabs, Baba Ganoush, Dukkah Roasted Cauliflower, Meguez meatballs, and Dulce de leche chocolate tart (plus a couple of recipes from Plenty). It was such a delicious meal. Thank you for such clear cut recipes that are full of flavor.

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Ellie,
      Thanks so much & happy you’re enjoying the recipes from My Paris Kitchen! – David

    • Carrie T.

    This chocolat chaud was superb! Just what I needed on this drizzly SF eve. Merci David! Keep ‘em coming!

    • Mark Steele

    Best quality milk chocolate is essential as you say. I tried it with Valrhona Jivara which is 40% milk chocolate and Valrhona Caramelia which is a newer product, 36% milk chocolate with caramel notes. I think Jivara is better. I would be interested in anyone who might have access to Weiss Friture Chocolate au Last, which I have not been able to source in US…

      • Mark Steele

      Sorry, that is au Last, not au Last

    • Joan

    This is a very late comment to your post on Ibrik Café: you posted just after I’d been to Paris and I really wanted to go there, so I made a point to go this time. I can assure you that even in Ruba is no longer the chef, what I had was fantastic, especially the labneh with za’atar, hummus, and pickles as the mezze. Thanks!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Appreciate your letting me know. I haven’t been back but plan to. Will update the post after I do. Glad you liked it!

    • Marshall

    This recipe/idea couldn’t have come at a better time. We have a couple fresh inches of snow here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I’m sure all of my chocolate has migrated to the back of my pantry as things do when they are not used so often.

    Oh…David I’m loving the new book!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks so much…glad you’re enjoying L’appart! : )

    • Gerard Pinzone

    Could this recipe be reworked based on 100% cocao chocolate?

    • lolita lacuesta

    How are the poof of whipped cream and the chocolate curls taken with the hot chocolate, please? Are both whipped cream and chocolate curls spooned on top of the hot chocolate? Thank you!

      • David
      David Lebovitz

      yes, you can garnish the top with whipped cream and sprinkle chocolate shavings on top. To make them, use a vegetable peeled to shave milk chocolate “curls” from the side of a bar of milk chocolate. Enjoy!

    • Elke

    Hello David,

    I finally got around to watching your hot chocolate video and loved it. It really got my mind off things Just what I needed today so thank you for letting us spend 40 minutes in your kitchen with you.

    I was wondering if you are familiar with the chocolate bars of Tony’s Chocolonely. I think it is the best chocolate, especially the best milk chocolate there is ánd it aims at becoming a 100% slave free chocolate — which I think is really important. I recommend you to look for it.
    They initially started in the Netherlands (where I am from) but by now the chocolate is available in more countries. Just not sure if France is one of them.

    Take care.

    PS I love My Paris Kitchen. The endive salad is my favourite

    • Shal

    I just made this and wow. It is really good but also a tad bit too rich. I need to buy espresso cups to serve this as that’s the right serving size and this is the case after reducing the 12oz chocolate to 9oz and using whole milk, not half-n-half. The cinnamon and salt takes it to another level. I added some sugar because I didn’t have milk chocolate. I’d totally make it again but wasn’t kidding about the espresso cups!

      • Sheila

      Espresso cups would be perfect. I made this today for a NYE treat. I served it in the antique Limoges chocolate cups I inherited from my grandmother. They hold ~ 2.5 oz which is just the right amount of this rich chocolate for me.
      Next up will the the salted butter caramel hot chocolate from Drinking French!


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