The Special Ingredient For Thick And Creamy Italian Hot Chocolate

Cup of thick hot chocolate
Cup of thick hot chocolate - Liliya Kandrashevich/Shutterstock

There's nothing like a silky smooth cup of homemade hot chocolate on a cold day. Not only does it warm you from the inside out, it tastes delicious, and hot chocolate is also good for you. Now, there are plenty of different types of hot chocolate out there for you to prepare, with many different countries around the world putting their own spin on the drink.

Of all the global iterations of this classic warm drink, if you're after a luxurious cup, you may want to try Italian hot chocolate, or cioccolata calda. This version of the beverage is known for being thick and creamy with a similar consistency to a custard that hasn't fully chilled yet. To achieve that texture, you can add a simple, special ingredient: cornstarch. Cornstarch is a thickening agent that's gluten-free and can help your drink achieve that rich consistency.

But, why does cornstarch work for thickening your drink, and what else do you need to know to use this trick? Plus, are there any alternatives that you could use instead?

Read more: 8 Chocolate Bars That Are Totally Different Outside The US

How Cornstarch Works To Thicken Your Hot Chocolate

Pouring thick hot chocolate into a mug
Pouring thick hot chocolate into a mug - New Africa/Shutterstock

Cornstarch, along with other starches, works by absorbing liquid into the starch particles, which then grow in size. The more liquid that your starch absorbs and the more starch grains are in the liquid, the thicker the mixture (in this case, hot chocolate) will end up being. The good news is that even if you overdo it a bit, cornstarch doesn't have any taste or smell to it that would affect your hot chocolate. The only thing to worry about is that too much can turn your beverage into a solid, undrinkable block.

Now, one thing to note here is that in order to activate the aforementioned absorption process, you need heat, getting your liquid to about 203 degrees Fahrenheit. Just note that if you heat your mixture too much, you can actually ruin the starch molecules and wind up with a thin drink once more. So, it's best to get your hot chocolate up to temperature and then lower the heat again to keep that thick, decadent consistency.

Other Methods For Getting A Thick Hot Chocolate

Pot and mug of hot chocolate
Pot and mug of hot chocolate - Kajakiki/Getty Images

If you want to make a thick, decadent hot chocolate, cornstarch isn't the only thickening agent out there that can do the same trick. For instance, arrowroot, tapioca, or potato starch can all work well here. These ingredients behave the same way as cornstarch does when used in liquids since they're also types of starches, helping your hot chocolate get that thick, rich consistency.

Besides starches, you can also turn to xanthan gum to help thicken your hot chocolate. When you add xanthan gum to a liquid, the powder quickly diffuses into the liquid, making it thick and stable. Plus, xanthan gum has no flavor, so it won't affect the taste of your hot chocolate.

Another way to thicken your hot chocolate is simply to play around with the liquid to chocolate ratio. By using less liquid and more chocolate, you can get a thicker drink. Other ways to help keep your chocolate thick and rich include using more fat in the drink, so use heavy cream instead of just milk, for example. With these tips, you've got a few different tricks up your sleeve for putting together a tasty pot of thick, decadent Italian hot chocolate.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.