Give Hot Chocolate A Texture Boost With The Help Of Your French Press

A French press coffee maker has a lot going for it — and for your coffee. It's simple to use, transportable, and, unlike time-controlled or automatic machines, it cedes ultimate control to the user. By manipulating things like water temperature and how long the coffee steeps, you get a perfectly nuanced brew reflecting your own java style. But, coffee isn't the only drink benefitting from the simplicity of a French press. The most important part of this manually operated apparatus is its plunger — which opens possibilities for extracurricular activity in the chocolate realm. 

Beyond the scope of its original intention, which is using hot water to coax flavor out of ground coffee beans, the French press can also be embraced for hot chocolate. And we're not just talking about pouring hot milk over ground chocolate or cocoa powder. This ingenious application involves the plunger itself.

Though it may not be obvious at first glance, the plunging piece of a French press comes with an attached metal filter screen, which typically separates coffee grounds from the hot liquid as it moves downward. When using it to make hot chocolate with milk, that filter has some aerating magic up its stainless-steel sleeve. Get ready for a silky smooth cup of cocoa like you've never imagined.

Aerated milk creates velvety texture

After placing ground or powdered chocolate in the bottom of a French press, adding hot milk, and letting it soak for a couple of minutes, you'll need to vigorously pump the plunger up and down for up to a minute. This pumping action introduces air into the liquid. Similar to using a frother, the liquid becomes aerated and, thereby, fluffier, smoother, lighter, and even tastier as the increased texture brings out the inherent sweetness of the milk. 

All of this comes from the simple act of using your muscle power to move air instead of employing an electric gadget. When frothing milk for making hot chocolate, preferably at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the milk increases in volume — so make sure to fill the container only about halfway with milk. It may be hard to get a pumping rhythm going, so start slowly and gradually increase the pressure. 

Unlike making coffee in a French press, there's no need to separate any course coffee grounds from the liquid. The powdered chocolate dissolves in hot milk, especially when aerated with the plunger. By the way, you can also use this hand-pump frothing method sans chocolate. Just froth a whole container of milk in the French press for topping an espresso drink or making latte art.