• Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • Time: 5 minutes prep, 5 minutes cooking, 10 minutes total

Hot chocolate holds on the stove for an hour or longer, and can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days.


This hot chocolate has a pedigree. It dates from 1632 Italy, where the court cook to Bologna’s ruling family, the Bentivoglio dukes, made it the fashion of the day. Scented with allspice, vanilla and orange, this was the end product of one of Italy’s earliest recipes for making chocolate from the cacao bean. Cook Giuseppe Lamma came up with other flavoring options—pack the chocolate in jasmine flowers for several days before melting it, or stir ground ambergris (a secretion from the intestines of the sperm whale - not at all attractive sounding) into the hot drink.


Amber and jasmine notwithstanding, you can experience the chocolate as the ladies at court like it—hot in winter; iced in summer. What a civilized late-night fix. Too bad they didn’t know about marshmallows back then.


  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground allspice

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or the seeds scraped from the inside of a whole vanilla bean)

  • Generous pinch of salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper (optional)

  • 1/2 cup sugar, or to taste

  • Fine-grated zest of a large orange

  • 3 cups water, or half-water, half-milk, or half-water, half-cream

  • 10.5 to 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (Lindt Excellence 70%, Valrhona 71%, Scharffen Berger 70%, Guittard L’Harmonie 72%, or Ghiradelli 70% Extra Bittersweet, in our order of preference), broken up 


In a 3-quart saucepan combine all ingredients except the chocolate. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 2 minutes.

Pull the pan off the heat, let it sit a few minutes, then whisk in the chocolate until smooth. Taste the chocolate for sweetness and enough allspice. Serve hot.


Hot Chocolate Float: Top cups of hot chocolate with big spoonfuls of pistachio or vanilla fudge ice cream. Sprinkle with crushed pistachios.

Espresso-Chocolate Hot Cup: Reduce the liquid to 2-1/2 cups; increase sugar to 3/4 cup. With the chocolate, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup strong espresso coffee.

Hot Chocolate Toddy: Add an ounce or more of dark rum to the chocolate. Garnish cupswith vanilla beans as stirrers.

Hot Chilie Chocolate: Add to the liquid mixture in step 1 a generous teaspoon of medium-hot ground Ancho chilie, or the hot and sweet Aleppo chilie. Boil with the other ingredients.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Lynne Rossetto Kasper has won numerous awards as host of The Splendid Table, including two James Beard Foundation Awards (1998, 2008) for Best National Radio Show on Food, five Clarion Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014) from Women in Communication, and a Gracie Allen Award in 2000 for Best Syndicated Talk Show.