Spanish Hot Chocolate (Chocolate Caliente)

Cropped Hand Holding Churro Over Hot Chocolate

Yin Jiang / Getty Images

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 2 to 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
716 Calories
43g Fat
64g Carbs
20g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 716
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 43g 55%
Saturated Fat 26g 129%
Cholesterol 44mg 15%
Sodium 190mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 64g 23%
Dietary Fiber 8g 29%
Total Sugars 50g
Protein 20g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 510mg 39%
Iron 8mg 45%
Potassium 942mg 20%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Chocolate has a long history in Spain, the country known for adding the familiar sweetness to what was originally a bitter-tasting Mayan beverage. Today, the Spanish enjoy hot chocolate for breakfast, and throughout the country there are chocolate drinking establishments, called chocolaterias, that serve chocolate caliente, or hot chocolate, as well as cakes and pastries to accompany it.

If the only hot cocoa you’ve ever had is the kind made using envelopes of powdered mix and hot water, you won’t recognize this incredibly rich, thick, and flavorful drink—but are sure to find it more genuine tasting. There are three slightly different versions here: one uses sweetened milk chocolate, one uses bittersweet chocolate and the third uses baking chocolate and sugar. Try all three to decide which type you prefer. No matter which chocolate you choose, the process is almost the same.


For the sweet chocolate version:

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

  • 4 ounces milk chocolate

For the bittersweet chocolate version:

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate

For the baking chocolate version:

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

  • 3 ounces baking chocolate

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and add the cornstarch.

  2. Whisk to dissolve the cornstarch.

  3. Once the cornstarch is dissolved, heat the milk over medium heat just until it is starting to simmer around the edges of the pan.

  4. Remove the pan from the heat.

  5. Add the chocolate squares (either milk, bittersweet, or baking chocolate) immediately and begin stirring until the chocolate is completely melted. If the milk cools off too fast, place the pan back on the stove over low heat to melt the chocolate.

  6. If you are using baking chocolate, pour the sugar into the chocolate milk mixture and stir until it is thoroughly dissolved. Start with the smaller amount of sugar and add more to taste if necessary. This should be done with the pan off of the heat.

  7. Place the pan back on the stove over medium-low heat, stirring slowly but constantly.

  8. Taste the chocolate for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary.

  9. When the mixture begins to simmer it should start to thicken. As soon as you see it thicken, remove the pan from the heat so the cornstarch will not thin.

  10. Ladle the hot chocolate immediately into cups and serve piping hot, ideally with Spanish churros for dipping.


  • Be sure to use a clean spoon every time you taste the hot chocolate. Enzymes from your mouth can cause a thickened cornstarch mixture to become thin.
  • Do not cook the hot chocolate mixture over high heat because it can cause it to become lumpy.

Chocolate Caliente and Churros

A typical pairing in Spanish cafes, as well as home kitchens, is a cup of hot chocolate and a churro. The delicately crisp, sugary fried dough is the perfect match for the rich chocolate beverage. A good test for the right consistency of the chocolate caliente is to see if the churro can stand up straight; once dunked, the churro should have a nice coating of chocolate, but the drink should be thin enough to sip easily.