In honor of Hot Chocolate Day, we want to share with you our favorite places in Venice to drink it. But you should first know that hot chocolate here (known here as cioccolato caldo or cioccolata calda), is very different than how you may have it at home. In Venice, it is more the consistency of a thick pudding, and easier consumed with a spoon than sipping it. Also, it does not always come pre-sweetened. If it hasn’t been sweetened, you will notice a sugar packet or two is served with your cup. You can taste it without, but trust us: add the sugar!
One young man on our tour delighted in dipping our local “esse” cookies (traditional Venetian biscotti) into his cup as the hot chocolate delivery device.
Here are our top places in Venice for cioccolata calda
Of course Caffe Florian. Caffe Florian is special. Caffe Florian is historic. And yes, Caffe Florian is expensive. But for a once-in-a-lifetime, special occasion, let’s put everything on black kind of day, then you can’t beat the experience, especially if you sit outside in Piazza San Marco. Throw any cares to the wind, and get a table out there, in front of the orchestra and order it. We go once a year, when we are all dressed up in costume during Carnevale. Just be forewarned: to sit is six euro per person. The cioccolata in tazza is twelve euro, and if you want the whipped cream it’s a few euro more. (Notice that it does come with that sugar packet, so be sure to add that in.) So for two people, we are talking nearly forty euro for two cups of hot chocolate. Is it worth it? We’ll see you there during Carnevale!
Piazza San Marco, 57
Ph. +39 041 520 5641
Hours: Open Daily
Monday-Thursday 10am to 9pm
Friday and Saturday from 9am to 11pm
Sunday from 9am to 9pm
We adore Bar Foscarini. It is the first stop on our lunch tour, where we offer a caffe corretto (a coffee spiked with grappa). But for those non-coffee drinkers, we love to offer their cioccolata calda as a substitute. It comes pre-sweetened, but not overly so, and is an absolute delight on cold winter mornings. Another place with a spectacular view, situated at the base of the Accademia Bridge and sitting squarely on the Grand Canal, you have the view of the rich, but at the cost of a fiver. Come in and say “buongiorgno” to this lovely family: the beautiful Luisa, and her two handsome sons Simone and Paolo, and stay for hot chocolate with a view.
Ponte dell’Accademia, Dorsoduro 878/c
Ph. +39 041 522 7281
Hours: Open Daily
VizioVirtù is the Venetian mecca for all things chocolate. Owned and operated by Mariangela, she has made her passion for chocolate her life’s pursuit, and offers the most interesting varieties of hot chocolate, certainly in the city, and perhaps anywhere in the world. Educated in everything chocolate, from the history in Latin America to the revered fine French tradition, Mariangela is a grand master of chocolate. She offers her traditional take on cioccolata calda, but she also makes seasonal selections and even a cold, unsweetened variation.
Ph. +39 041 275 0149
Hours: Open Daily, 10am to 7pm
If you would like to make Venetian hot chocolate at home, here is a very authentic version:
Venetian Hot Chocolate (makes 4 small or 2 large servings)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 rounded tablespoon confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (we use Valrhona Caraibe 66% cacao)
In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine the milk, cream, and sugar and heat just until you see bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely melted. If necessary, put the pan back on a low heat, stirring constantly until completely melted. Do not let it come to a boil. Let the hot chocolate sit off the heat for 10 minutes. Turn the heat on again on the lowest temperature, and again stir constantly until the mixture looks smooth without any graininess. Serve in small cups topped with whipped cream.
Why this works: a couple of things about this recipe that make it work… using a tablespoon of confectioners’ sugar helps the thickening process. Confectioners’ sugar contains cornstarch, and once heated contributes the thickness and mouthfeel you get with Venetian hot chocolate. Letting the mixture sit for ten minutes aids in the smoothness of the hot chocolate. After heating it the first time, there will still be small crystals of chocolate that haven’t melted. It will look slightly grainy. Giving the hot chocolate a 10 minute rest will allow all of the chocolate to fully melt without the danger of adding more heat, which could burn the mixture. Letting it sit, and then heat again, stirring constantly will give you the smooth, thick, rich hot chocolate of your dreams.