January 8th, 2014
01:00 PM ET
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America's Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook’s Illustrated magazine, and on our two public television cooking shows.

No disrespect to the usual hot chocolate, but once you’ve tasted a cup made with honest-to-goodness chocolate, as opposed to cocoa, you’ll never go back. It makes the richest, creamiest, most decadent hot chocolate going. There’s only one drawback: It’s not as convenient as instant cocoa. We were determined to change that.

Recipes for this style call for heating cream or milk, adding sugar and stirring in chopped chocolate. As soon as the chocolate melts, the mixture is whisked until smooth. We ditched the tedious chocolate-chopping step in favor of chocolate chips. Now what?

Ganache, FYI, is just a fancy French word for a mix of chocolate and cream; it’s often used to make a rich, glossy frosting. Perhaps we could transform it into a hot-chocolate base? Following a usual ratio for ganache, we heated one 12-ounce bag of chocolate chips and 1 cup of heavy cream in the microwave (for ease). When the cream was hot and the chocolate melted, we whisked them until smooth. After a taste, we ruled out any extra sugar - semisweet chips made the mixture sweet enough.

It couldn't be easier to make (or drink) this rich hot chocolate on a cold, blustery day. Watch our how-to video:

Rich and Creamy Hot Chocolate

1 (12-ounce) bag (2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1/4  teaspoon salt

Microwave chocolate, cream and salt in large bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours. Roll 3 tablespoons chilled chocolate mixture into ten 2-inch balls. Individually wrap balls in plastic wrap and transfer to zipper-lock bag. Refrigerate for 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months. To make 1 cup of hot chocolate, combine 1 unwrapped chocolate ball and 1 cup whole or low-fat milk in large mug. Microwave, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Serve.

More from America's Test Kitchen:
Which single-serve pod coffee maker is the best?
Take your homemade soups from good to great
12 vinegars to know now
Secrets to the perfect pot roast
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soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Sara

    Would I be able to ship this in the cold weather?

    February 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm |
  2. Quentin Green

    Im a chef and I know that Ganache is not used to make frosting its used to make cake.... There is no such thing as a ganache frosting.

    January 29, 2014 at 3:46 pm |
    • Ally

      I'm not a chef. But I've done many recipes that call for a ganache glaze over top of cakes and tarts. I've also used it as filling in tarts. I've also used it to make truffle balls. I have never, however; come across a recipe that used ganache to actually make a cake itself.

      I'm not saying there aren't recipes out there for "ganache cake" but there are most certainly many recipes for using ganache as a glaze (frosting) on a cake.

      January 29, 2014 at 5:13 pm |
  3. GH

    I have only one question about these chocolate balls: Are they salty? ;)

    January 29, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
  4. Williemojorisin

    A shot of Red Hot Schnapps is the finishing touch to add.

    January 29, 2014 at 11:09 am |
    • AleeD®

      Ohdang! That's a great idea. Thanks.

      January 29, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
  5. Suspicious Chihuahua

    Seems a lot of people here are missing the point, because at no point did anyone say anything about this being healthy, and I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to be. Life's too short, so enjoy a cup of bad-for-you once in a while.

    January 28, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
    • Pamala

      You wanna hear funny? My doctor told me that. He said you have to have junk every once in a while – go for it! So I did.

      January 29, 2014 at 11:57 am |
      • MikeR

        "He said you have to have junk every once in a while"

        Yes, but who's junk?

        January 29, 2014 at 4:10 pm |
    • Seamus27

      So true, we only live once...or forever; depending on one"s believes............enjoy...

      January 29, 2014 at 4:32 pm |
  6. Jack Sprat

    I have a bunch of Hershey's kisses, can I use them?

    January 28, 2014 at 4:16 pm |
  7. jack

    America's test kitchen just lost all credibility by suggesting you use a microwave. With 36 chefs that do nothing but cook, they are going to use a microwave for this recipe? How pathetic..........

    January 28, 2014 at 4:11 pm |
    • MR in TX

      Yes indeed – one should use a microwave oven for anything which can be heated by microwaves as it uses the least energy and the least amount of time for the effort. A knee jerk reaction to the word microwave shows absolutely no understanding of physics – (or science in general) – which unfortunately is the sad state of many. And yes, it is chemistry, and physics, and math which leads to better cooking. How do yeasts work ? What does salt do ? Why do some fats work well and others work poorly ? What is carmelization ? How does carbon dioxide affect foods ? All answers in science – not voodoo.

      January 28, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
    • Ally

      @Jack, there's nothing wrong with using a microwave to heat items that have no adverse reactions to being in the microwave. They test recipes many times over before publishing them. If melting the chocolate on the stove top would have changed the flavor in ANY way they would have done that. Sometimes cutting out time required to create a recipe is exactly what the Test Kitchen, And Cooks Illustrated Magazine aim to do in order to make tedius recipes more average cook friendly.

      January 29, 2014 at 3:47 pm |
  8. CNG

    Way too much fat! I use the following recipe for my own cocoa mix: 1/2 c. dark cocoa powder, 2/3 c. raw sugar, 1 c. dark chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao), 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Mix well so the cocoa powder is coating the sugar crystals and chocolate chips. I use 2-3 tbsp. for a large (15oz.) mug of cocoa, stirring in boiling water until all the chocolate has melted. It's a dark chocolate dream! You could add skim milk or non-fat half-and-half if you like creamier cocoa. I calculate 3 tbsp. mix to be about 90 calories.

    January 28, 2014 at 3:13 pm |
  9. Chef Mike

    Not something I would recommend doing on a regular basis. Semisweet chocolate is already high in cocoa butter (fat), and the heavy cream is another 1/3 butterfat. It would be healthier to use your instant cocoa and make it with half & half!

    January 28, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
  10. Jessica McGwin

    A shot of whiskey it is does not hurt. Well actually it does dehydrate you but a good card game and Adult hot coco sure does make the time pass a little better.

    January 28, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
  11. orange sunshyne

    I have a box of 10 envelopes of Swiss Miss that make hot chocolate instantly.
    Why would I waste my time doing this?

    January 28, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
    • Anne Worth

      That was exactly what I was thinking (although not Swiss Miss brand). There are wonderful hot chocolate products on the market that are already made to use instantly. I don't want the extra fat.

      January 28, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
    • AleeD®

      One of these days I'm going to try this so I can recommend it first-hand: make your instant with hot coffee instead of water for a mocha treat.

      January 29, 2014 at 12:21 pm |
      • ThatRocks

        AleeD, I've done that at my office for years, as the coffee here is too strong for me but tastes great with the cocoa mix added. I started doing it too often, so I had to invent "Mochachino Fridays" for myself to limit it to one day a week. Yum!

        January 29, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
  12. spookyman

    Looks like something from Mr. Hanky the Christmans Pooo

    January 28, 2014 at 2:32 pm |
  13. mdaneker

    Look, they dissolved a truffle in hot milk... am I supposed to go "wow"... I won't.

    January 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
    • Mommie

      Awww. Did someone pee in your corn flakes? Poor baby.

      January 28, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
  14. Imjesayin

    Can you think of anything more unhealthy? Good god. You can come up with a recipe that's not so over the top fattening and sweet. Sorry to be a buzzkill, but this recipe is ridiculous. Does this come with a side of diabetes?

    January 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
    • Dontsayanythin

      lighten up, Francis...

      January 29, 2014 at 11:02 am |
  15. svann

    Huh. I always thought chocolate was made with cocoa.

    January 28, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
  16. harrisonhits2

    I often add a couple pieces of chocolate with the instant cocoa pack and it makes a big difference in taste and consistency.

    Especially white chocolate works great.

    Another nice add is Bailey's Irish Cream.

    January 28, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
  17. Chef

    Say everybody have you seen my balls?
    They're big and salty and brown
    If you ever need a quick pick me up
    Just stick my balls in your mouth

    January 28, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
  18. Ron Swanson

    I tried making "real" hot chocolate a long time ago and used chips since they were so much cheaper than the bars even though the ingredients looked the same. It didnt come out very good, it tasted like a glass of chocolate chips with that weird sharp chocolate chip flavor. Chocolate chips definitely dont have the same taste as normal chocolate.

    This would work well if you use really good quality chocolate chips instead of run-of-the-mill grocery store chips but I have never seen the good ones for sale. Or if you can find chocolate pastilles, which is just regular chocolate in little discs without any of the chocolate chip voodoo added to it.

    January 13, 2014 at 1:13 pm |
  19. sliceof8

    I am definitely going to make this for my mother!! She loves hot chocolate!

    January 9, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
  20. KS in NY

    i will try this and am sure I will love it but I would guess that what I do is a pretty close equivalent. Why this works for rich and creamy hot chocolate is the fat content. Cocoa removes that and instant packages and water or using skim milk are not a good equivalent. I have long used evaporated milk mixed with 1% but will also use 1/2 and 1/2 or other creams when I have left overs. My preference is evaporated and typically use a ratio of 1 part canned to 2 parts 1%. (The more canned you use the creamier but also the higher fat and calorie counts.) Then, I only use premium hot cocoa mixes. A favorite is Ghiradelli's Mocha because the mocha gives is a darker, richer chocolate flavor.

    January 8, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
  21. TNT

    Good day for this cocoa! Sounds delicious! (& easy, too)

    January 8, 2014 at 1:37 pm |

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