Cornstarch Is The Secret Ingredient For Rich And Thick Hot Chocolate

If you've ever tasted Italian hot chocolate (aka cioccolata calda), you know there's a significant difference between this treat and what we typically get here in the States. The former version is generally thicker, creamier, and — like many Italian foods — simply better, in our opinion. There are a few different ingredients that make this rich treat stand out from the average cocoa mix and hot water combination you may be used to. But if you want to replicate the thicker texture of the Italian dessert at home, try adding cornstarch to your recipe.

You may know cornstarch as the thickening agent typically used in sauces, custards, and marinades. Whatever dish you deploy it in, heating this ingredient allows the starch particles to disintegrate and bond with water, which creates a gel-like consistency. Just as the powder does this in your teriyaki sauce, it can also work its magic in hot chocolate. And luckily, you don't have to worry about this extra ingredient tainting the taste of your dessert. Cornstarch doesn't have much of a flavor, so it will only contribute its thickening properties.

How to make hot chocolate with cornstarch

If you're going to whip up rich hot chocolate with cornstarch, you'll want to make it from scratch. Luckily, since it doesn't contribute any flavor, you can add it to any of your favorite recipes for this dessert, including ginger hot chocolate. You'll want to whisk it into just a few tablespoons of milk before doing anything else and set the mixture to the side while you warm up the bulk of the milk, cocoa powder, sugar, and any other ingredients you're using. Then, once your saucepan is simmering, whisk in your starchy mixture and let everything thicken up. The process is pretty simple, but keep in mind that you want to avoid boiling your liquid for longer than a minute or two, as this can cause the cornstarch to reverse its thickening effects.

Adding in this key ingredient will already produce a crave-worthy hot chocolate — but if you want to make yours even richer, feel free to pile on the toppings. Whipped cream, marshmallows, cinnamon, and a little sea salt are all worthy contenders, along with a caramel drizzle on the inside of your cup. Or stir in an ingredient that will upgrade your recipe even more, like peanut butter, Nutella, pumpkin spice, or molasses. You'll never go back to those instant hot cocoa mixes again.