In the Netherlands, ordering a cup of steaming hot chocolate is just as easy as getting coffee or tea. While the drink is most popular as a fall and winter treat, hot cocoa with whipped cream is certainly enjoyed on rainy days year-round.
Because there's nothing like hot chocolate made with good quality dark chocolate and whole milk, topped with real whipped cream, the Dutch like to make their own from scratch. They always use the finest dark chocolate chips, but also add a teaspoon of Dutch process cocoa for extra oomph. Classic Dutch cocoa comes with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top, dusted with cocoa or cinnamon (they prefer the latter), and sometimes a bit of brandy or rum for the adults. They don't usually sweeten the cream, but sometimes add a flavoring such as vanilla extract or almond essence.
Gather the ingredients.
Put the chocolate chips, cocoa, and 1/4 cup of the milk (about 60 ml) in a small saucepan over a medium heat.
Allow the chocolate to melt into the milk while stirring with a wooden spoon.
Add the rest of the milk and whisk lightly until well mixed and foamy.
Add the brandy or rum, if using.
Pour into small cups, top with whipped cream, dust with cinnamon, and serve piping hot.
Dutch Hot Chocolate History
Drinking hot chocolate dates from the Mayans and Aztecs whose cacao bean beverage was bitter, unsweetened, and included spicy chili peppers. Imported to Spain by the Conquistadores, it was a luxury beverage among the nobility. By the 17th century it began to be sweetened. However, it was still made by grinding whole cacao beans, which include the fat in the central nibs. Even though it was served at chocolate houses (like coffee houses) as well as in private mansions, it was still expensive and exclusive to those who could afford it.
Dutch process cocoa, or cocoa powder, was invented in 1828 by Coenradd Johannes van Houton using a press that separated the fat from roasted cacao beans. This allowed the caked cocoa to be powdered. In the process now called Dutching, he treated the powder with alkaline and produced Dutch chocolate with a dark color and mild flavor. Dutch process cocoa mixes well with water or milk. The cocoa butter that was separated during the Dutching process could then be added back in, along with sugar and other ingredients, to make solid chocolate bars, chips, and other shapes.
This invention transformed hot chocolate from a luxury enjoyed only by those with spare income to something everyone could afford to make and enjoy at home. Today, the Dutch are still a major force in the chocolate world, with a 25 percent share of the cocoa powder and cocoa butter export business. So, no matter where in the world you are enjoying your hot chocolate, there is a little Dutch in it.