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The Best Ever Chocolat Chaud

Lucky us! Recipes for a French favorite, Le Chocolat Chaud, are below!

The Best Chocolat Chaud

So much time, so many places, so much chocolate

February is one of my favorite months. Perhaps that’s because it’s the month of my birthday and Valentine’s Day. They are just a week apart, in fact. I love February because I give myself permission to splurge on chocolate. Starting with a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day and finishing with the last morsel of chocolate fudge cake on my birthday, I cram as much of my favorite sweet into a month as possible.

When I started writing this post about chocolate, I thought bringing back memories of my favorite chocolate experiences might be interesting. There have been so many to sort through, but here’s a go at it.

Visions from years ago take me back to the 5 & 10 Cent stores my father owned in North Carolina. When I was barely old enough to reach the cash register, I could easily scoop out candies for customers from behind the glass case in the front of the store. Those days the “good” chocolates were sold in assortments in shiny boxes stacked on shelves. Candy counter chocolates I remember were wafer-thin and coated with multi-colored sprinkles, or they came as chocolate-covered raisins and nuts.

Later in my chocolate years, I discovered the most heavenly fudge in Cape May, New Jersey, made daily with fresh dairy cream. In Minnesota, home of General Mills, the company was testing a new brand, Pillsbury Pie Shops, in a few shopping centers. Customers, including me, lined up to buy their velvety French Silk Pies. Ricotta-cream-chocolate chip cannolis with dark chocolate-dipped shells in New York’s Little Italy were totally irresistible, as I recall. Then there was that “pain au chocolat” at Le Grenier à Pain in Paris.

“So much time, so many places, so much chocolate.”

Now that I live in France, it’s not surprising that I would have my most exhilarating chocolate experience here.

The Best Chocolat Chaud

Just a few months ago, I entertained new expat friends who were overnight guests at my home in UZÈS. We drove to one of my favorite places to take people on a tour of the area — San Quentin la Poterie. The small town is famous for its potteries, where you will often find craftsmen at work in their shops.

On this particular day, it was pretty blustery — as those who know “Le Mistral” can understand — so we bundled up with hats and scarves before we left Uzes. Walking along the narrow, winding streets of San Quentin, I knew the sharp wind would surely turn too cold for comfort if we weren’t prepared.

Arriving in San Quentin la Poterie and after looking through several shops, my friends and I ran across L’Effet Reve, a tiny store where I had bought a few items for my apartment. I reminded them about the little daybed they’d admired at my place and urged them to see the shop where I’d found it.

San Quentin la Poterie shop
San Quentin la Poterie shop

The sound of tingling bells announced our arrival when we opened the door to enter. Almost immediately, the shopkeeper appeared. As delightful as ever, she invited us in and asked if we would like a beverage? “Tea? Cafe? Chocolat Chaud?”

“Chocolat chaud?” we answered, almost in unison.

“Oui,” she said, followed by something else in French.

(Let me stop here momentarily to remind you I don’t speak French, even after two years of living in France. That’s another story.)

While I was trying to disguise the fact that I understood only a tenth of what the shopkeeper was saying, my friends told me later she makes the chocolat chaud from scratch, with melted chocolate.

After taking our order, the shopkeeper set off for the kitchen, and we busied ourselves rambling through the store. As always, it was filled with pretty little antique items, nostalgic home decorations, delicate lace items to wear, and an array of tableware arranged tastefully with new and vintage linens. It was like visiting inside a life-size doll house.

L'Effet Reve in San Quentin la Poterie
San Quentin la Poterie


Just as I was lifting a wine goblet out of its place to examine it, our hostess approached and led us to a small alcove in the store. The cozy space was decorated like a parlor or Victorian sitting room. She sat us at a petite wrought iron table in the center of the room. When we removed our coats and were obviously comfortable, she brought from the kitchen the first of three giant cups of “chocolat chaud.” She placed it in front of me. Then she served another, then the last. Each fine bone china cup was the size of a soup bowl. Each was filled to the brim with piping hot chocolate. Saucers beneath the cups held two dainty shortbread cookies each.


Chocolat Chaud in San Quentin la Poterie
Chocolat Chaud in San Quentin la Poterie


Holding my cup by the handle on the side, supported by my hand on the bottom, I sipped the heavenly brew. “Oh my!” I exclaimed. “Surely these cups with beautifully hand-painted, gold-leaf laurels have never held such a delicacy,” I said.

With the first sip of the drink, my tastebuds burst wide open from the subtle sweetness, then the flavor of chocolate — deep, rich cocoa. With a second, bigger sip, the velvety liquid filled my mouth. I was delirious. How could anything taste this good? I glanced at my friends to see their reactions.

“This is the best ‘chocolat chaud’ I’ve ever tasted,” we all chanted.

When I turned back to closely examine what I had put into my mouth, I noticed how the thick, smooth mixture clung impishly to the vessel’s sides. Minuscule specs of chocolate floated on top and down into the center of the devilish concoction as I stirred the drink with a spoon. The consistency was like creamed soup, which caused me to take a few spoonfuls instead of sips. The taste reminded me of every piece of fabulous chocolate I had ever eaten. Memories swam in my head as I gazed into the masterpiece before me.

“Can I stay here forever?” I pleaded with the shopkeeper.

Switching between drinking and spooning the heavenly delight.. and ignoring my friends and all around me … too soon I saw the bottom of the cup. It was over. That was it.

“It may be a long time before I taste chocolate this good again,” I said sadly.

“Lucky you,” joked one friend. “You can come back here anytime,” she said in a jealous tone.

“Exactement!” I exclaimed in my poor French. “San Quentin la Poterie is almost next door!”
Note: The Chocolat Chaud recipe at L’Effet Reve is top secret. However, here’s a version of the decadent dessert drink from Cook’n With Class Uzes’ Chef Eric. Also! another recipe from one of Barefoot Blogger’s followers who declares, “It’s absolutely the best, and easiest, hot choc. ever!” 

Chef Eric’s Le Chocolat Chaud

Serves 4

2 ½ cups whole milk
1 ½ cups whipped cream {35 %}
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup Cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 Pinch of salt
1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract

In a saucepan, warm 2 cups of milk with 1 cup of cream. In the meantime, mix sugar, cocoa, salt, vanilla extract, and the rest of the milk (1/2 cup); mix well until you obtain a paste with no lumps. Turn the stove on low, then add the paste slowly to the warm milk; whisk well to get foamy, creamy chocolate. Reheat until it is hot but don’t let the liquid boil! Whip the leftover cream (1/2 cup) until you have a smooth whipped cream. Pour the hot chocolate into the serving cups, and pour the cream on top….

Serve immediately.

Paula’s “Parisian Hot Chocolate Recipe: Le Chocolat Chaud”

(Courtesy of David Leibowitz)

Four ‘Parisian-sized’ Servings


2 cups (.5l) whole milk
5 ounces (130 g) bittersweet chocolate (best-quality), finely chopped
optional: 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1. Heat the milk in a medium-sized saucepan.

2. Once the milk is warm, whisk in the chocolate, stirring until melted and steaming hot. For a thick hot chocolate, cook at a very low boil for about 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Watch the mixture, as it may boil up during the first moments.

3. Taste and add brown sugar if desired.

Serve warm in small demitasse or coffee cups.

Note: This hot chocolate improves if made ahead and allowed to sit for a few hours. Rewarm before serving. I also like to add a few flecks of fleur de sel, the very good sea salt from Brittany.


Day trip from Uzes to the Cevennes

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