Cocoa blocks: building a great cup of hot chocolate

Ah, Florida. The land of Disney, ’gators,  breathtaking sunsets, and the Keys.

A place to surf, swim, and suntan. A place for great foods, fruits, and fun – and currently the only state in the nation that doesn’t have snow.

I’m ready…

I’d be happy to fly off for a little quality time with Mickey in the sunshine. Unfortunately, new carpets and car payments are more necessary than plane tickets right now, so I’ll be staying  here in the snowy North.

It’s a comfort to me to know that except for 1816 (The Year without a Summer), snow doesn’t fall in Vermont year ’round. Spring really IS on the way.

Snow definitely has its upside. First, it’s a wonder of nature, and so very beautiful when it falls. The hushed quiet of a snowfall can’t be found any other way, and the squirp-squeak sound of boots on fresh snow will always make you chuckle.

Big fat flakes caught on the tongue, splatting someone in the back with a big, fat snowball, and big fat snowmen with lopsided grins make you grin right back.

It’s not all (white) wine and roses, though. Slippery slopes, shovels, and snow-stung noses are part and parcel of living with the fluffy stuff. New Englanders make up for our hard winters partly by embracing comfort foods. Chicken soup, clam chowder, and cheddar biscuits warm the body and soul.

A rich cup of hot chocolate is a true joy after a day of sledding, or a tough slushy drive home. Warm, milky goodness soothes the nerves and chocolate calms the brain, leaving you sighing in comfort.

For a truly spectacular cupful, ditch the powdered packet and make your own soft, fudgy cocoa blocks to stir into hot milk. With only four ingredients, two of them chocolate, this recipe will change your view of winter’s favorite beverage forever.

Let’s make Cocoa Blocks.

Place in a medium-sized saucepan:
• ½ cup heavy cream
• 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups

Stir until they start to come together smoothly.

Measure out your chocolate. This is one recipe where chocolate chips will work beautifully. The lecithin in the chips will help the blocks firm up. You’ll need 3 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (chopped chocolate bars or chips).

In a separate bowl, measure out 3/4 cup unsweetened baking chocolate.

Heat the cream/milk mixture over medium heat until it starts to steam and has a good amount of bubbles around the edges.

Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. First the semisweet or bittersweet chips…

…and then the unsweetened. Mix the chocolate until it’s submerged in the hot cream, then leave to stand for about 10 minutes.

Return the pan to low heat and stir to ensure that the chocolate is all melted.

Switch to a whisk and whisk vigorously. Now it the time to add any flavorings, such as vanilla, coffee, or another extra-strong flavoring; Irish Creme and peppermint are big favorites here.

The mixture will become thick and glossy. If you’ve made fudge before, this will look familiar to you.

Pour the chocolate-y goodness into a parchment-lined 8″ square pan. Allow to set up overnight at room temperature before cutting.

Use the parchment paper to help you remove the big block from the pan, then slice with a sharp knife into smaller blocks.

Popsicle sticks make great holders and double as stirring sticks for the blocks. Adding marshmallows is fun, and for a minty twist you can warm the top of the block with a hot, dry knife or spoon, then sprinkle on crushed candy canes or peppermint crunch.

You can nibble the blocks as is, or stir into 8 ounces of hot milk for deliciously rich hot chocolate. I like to do both: a little stirring, a little nibbling, more stirring, more nibbling. It’s the best of both worlds.

This recipe makes 3 dozen 1 1/4″ blocks. Store them individually  well-wrapped and airtight, at room temperature, where they’ll remain fresh for several weeks. Freeze for longer storage.

Please make, rate, and review our recipe for Cocoa Blocks.

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Jeanne

    I see some folks have asked about dissolving their blocks in water vs. milk or cream. I make these blocks quite often, and can offer some thoughts.

    I’m a professional confectioner who also specializes in European and Mexican sipping chocolates, and believe it or not, water actually creates a brighter, more chocolatey hot chocolate in which the nuances of the chocolate really shine (so use the best quality chocolate you can find). Milk or half and half, or a mixture of cream and boiling water, make a richer hot chocolate, but the fat molecules “dim” the chocoate flavor. By the way, nut, soy and oat “milks” and lactose-free milk work fine with these blocks.

    Those tiny cups of thick-as-pudding French or Italian sipping chocolates are made with heavy cream – and 60-80% dark chocolate, which really, I think, make for an interesting flavor profile – so try to find the darkest chips for the strongest, most full chocolate flavor in these blocks. Mexican sipping chocolate blocks aren’t really good for this recipe, as it retain its distinctive, pleasant, slightly graininess after melting.

    Reply
  2. Eirene Fulgencio

    Can an immersion blender be used to emulsify the cream and chocolate? Or will the mixture be too thick and strain the immersion blender’s motor?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can use your immersion blender during the early stages of mixing; the chocolate and cream mixture thickens as it sets. You can pulse the mixture to ensure you don’t strain the motor. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. Kathy Kendeick

    I made these last year and everyone loved them. I use the pop sticks and small bags made for pop cakes then tie a ribbon around each one. Perfect little gifts for friends and neighbors!

    How long will these keep? Should they be kept in the refrigerator? I wasn’t sure about what to tell friends as to how to store them.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      What great gifts! These may be stored in a cool spot for 2-3 days. The refrigerator is best for longer term storage. Happy gift giving! Elisabeth@KAF

  4. Erin

    Im going to be making these this holiday season and was wondering if its possible to make “adult” versions with maybe Bailey’s Irish Kahlua? Could I replace the cream with it or possibly add some and increase the chocolate slightly?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      I’d probably decrease the sweetened condensed milk by 2 tablespoons, and add 2 tablespoons Bailey’s, or to taste – good luck, sounds yummy! PJH

  5. ChrisfromCT

    G’morning,

    I was going to ask if this recipe work if I used something other than heavy cream, such as half and half? Then I reviewed the input of others.

    I’m guessing how well the blocks set up might have something to do with the fat content of the liquid?
    I’m sorry, the blocks won’t set up properly without the heavy cream. It’s best to make this recipe as written. ~Amy

    Reply
  6. gpyrocat

    I made these as directed, using Merckens chocolate, Baker’s unsweetened and heavy whipping cream. They set up beautifully. I used the 2 quart beaker filled with very hot water to stand my knife between each cut. Perfect results, almost no waste. Now the trick will be to get these gifts to the recipients…

    …without enjoying them yourself first, you mean? 🙂 Glad they worked out well for you – PJH

    Reply
  7. katpauz

    I sincerely need help!!! I am making these for Christmas gifts and am messing something up! Please help me!!! I am using weights on the chocolate from the recipe- per the online conversion: 4 oz heavy cream, 14 oz cond. milk, 9 oz semisweet, 9 oz dark, 4 oz unsweetened chocolates. I have tried different chocolates from Callebaut (my favorite) to Ghiradelli chocolate chips, tried fat free vs. full fat cond. milk, and maintained the same heavy cream. My results: the “fudge” sets up upon combining the chocolates and cream and then when wisking, begins to loose liquid (water?). It does set up very hard, does not dissolve well in heated milk w/o a lot of stirring, and tastes “thin” even in only 6 oz of milk. I know it’s something I’m doing, but I can’t figure out what. Please help!

    Hi – Please call our baker’s hotline, 802-649-3717. They can talk you through this much more easily than trying to give a one-way answer here in blog comments, OK? Thanks for connecting – PJH

    Reply
  8. "Jane Dough"

    My 8 year-old son and I made a batch of these together. He was sampling his first one and when I told him that Mary Jane said you can nibble on them and/or stir them he said, “Exactly what does she mean by nibble?” His mug of milk was still pretty white when he finished his first block!
    Too funny! Maybe I should have said you can nom on them. 🙂 ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. jerseyjenny

    Do you think the chocolate could be poured into a silicone mold (i.e., mini Christmas trees) instead of a square pan?
    Although I haven’t tried it, that sounds like a great idea! I’d give it a try! ~Mel

    Reply
  10. Margy

    How about using them in coffee to make a cafe mocha? My niece is a chocolate-and-coffee freak.

    Oh, YUM! Margy, that’s an excellent idea…. PJH

    Reply

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