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Grandma’s Classic French Cocoa

Creamy classic French cocoa, handed down with piles of love straight from Grandma! Make a big batch and store in the fridge, and the most delicious homemade hot cocoa becomes so easy to make on-demand!

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A mug full of classic hot cocoa topped with mini marshmallows.

This is a recipe I am so grateful to have inherited from my mother-in-law, and now to share with you!

Like many families, we have one of those very traditional, simple, spiral-bound family cookbooks that includes many of the recipes my husband grew up eating. Let me assure you, that thing is battered and splattered and loved in my own modern kitchen today. And, of all the recipes in it, few speak to my heart like this classic French cocoa mix.

A bowl full of classic hot cocoa mix, layered with peppermint candy canes in a heart shape.

You see, my husband enjoyed a pretty idyllic childhood in Montana, where long, cold winters were an absolute given. I have in my mind’s eye this charming vision of him and his siblings stumbling in from the cold, stamping out the snow and ice from their boots, and rushing into the kitchen to be greeted with a steaming mug of their mother’s hot cocoa.

Now, who knows whether and how frequently this scene unfolded so blissfully in real life, but for whatever reason, I have grown oddly attached to the idea of it in my own head. And so, of course, I really really look forward to recreating it – you know, in a few years, when I live someplace with a proper snowfall and have a child old enough to be trusted with a hot beverage. Little things. 🙂

Chilly nights? Nothing will warm things up like a batch of Grandma's classic French cocoa!Click To Tweet

A bowl of classic French cocoa mix, with two spoonfuls removed.

How To Make and Store Classic French Cocoa Mix

Fortunately, I needn’t wait for that exact scene to be a possibility in order to enjoy the centerpiece of it – this killer hot cocoa!

What I really love about this cocoa – besides the taste – is how simple it is to make and store in the fridge. Basically, you will melt and sweeten chocolate on the stovetop, then mix with a bit of whipped cream. This forms a sort of cocoa base, which can be stored in the fridge for 7-10 days.

Then, whenever you want a mug of cocoa, just spoon a generous tablespoon of the base – or two, if it’s for my hubby or your own resident chocoholic – into the bottom of your mug. Top off with milk that’s been warmed in the microwave or on the stove, give it a good stir, and you’re all set!

The fact that it yields an unbelievably rich, creamy, frothy hot cocoa is just icing on the cake. 🙂

A mug full of classic hot cocoa topped with mini marshmallows.

One final note – how this originally came to be coined “French cocoa” is a mystery to me. I have Googled it, and can’t really ascertain any link between this method of preparation and anything particularly French.

Moreover, to be honest, having sampled quite a few hot chocolates around France and Belgium (#expatproblems) I have to say that I strongly prefer this recipe! I don’t personally favor the super thick, almost syrup-y, hot cocoas you sometimes find from chocolate shops and the like. This recipe is strong on the chocolate, but very drinkable, as well – perfect for curling up by the fire or sipping with family around the table!

So, why exactly it’s “French” cocoa remains elusive to me, but that’s what Grandma Mary calls it, and that’s plenty good enough for me! 😉

Enjoy! ♥

A bowl full of classic hot cocoa mix, layered with peppermint candy canes in a heart shape.

7 votes


Grandma's Classic French Cocoa




Yield 10-12 mugs of cocoa

Perfectly creamy French cocoa, handed down with piles of love straight from Grandma! Make a big batch of the base and store in the fridge, and the most delicious homemade hot cocoa becomes so easy to make on-demand!


  • 2 1/2 ounces (70 grams) unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream
  • hot milk, for serving


  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine chocolate and water, stirring frequently until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Add sugar and salt; stir well.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 4 minutes, then set aside and let mixture cool to room temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. When chocolate mixture has cooled, fold in the whipped cream, then store in the fridge.
  4. When ready to serve, place 1-2 heaping tablespoons of the cocoa mixture in each mug, and top with steaming milk. Stir well and top with marshmallows if desired.


The hot cocoa mix will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days.

Nutrition info is an estimate based on dividing the mix into 12 servings, and combining each with 1 cup of hot milk per mug.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 cup of cocoa

Amount Per Serving

Calories 268

% Daily Value

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

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Classic French cocoa mix | A family recipe straight from Grandma for easy-to-make homemade hot cocoa. #hotchocolate #hotcocoa #frenchcocoa

Classic French cocoa mix | A family recipe straight from Grandma for easy-to-make homemade hot cocoa. #hotchocolate #hotcocoa #frenchcocoa

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  • Reply
    January 4, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    We’ve been on a cocoa splurge lately, and with this weather, this is happening!!! Looks cozy!

    • Reply
      January 4, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      I was just thinking this recipe would be perfect for all the people dealing with sub-zero temps right now! I hope you enjoy – and stay warm!

  • Reply
    prasanna hede
    December 31, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Your recipe makes hot cocoa is so easy! It gets more better with added marshmallows!

    • Reply
      December 31, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      Thanks, Prasanna! Yup, I added a copious volume of marshmallows for photograph purposes, but let’s be honest – I didn’t mind giving them a good home afterwards. 😉

  • Reply
    Karyl | Karyl's Kulinary Krusade
    December 30, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Oh that cocoa base looks divine! I’ve never seen hot chocolate made like that. It would definitely create a very rich and comforting cup of hot chocolate

  • Reply
    Ben Myhre
    December 30, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    That looks so warm and inviting! YUM!

  • Reply
    December 30, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    This reminds me of my grandmother and when they would come down to Austria from France by car in winter. She would always bring me poulain chocolate powder.I feel like having a cup right now. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 30, 2017 at 3:10 am

    I love the simplicity of this delicious cocoa recipe. The powdered versions never dissolve completely in the warm milk! So excited to have found this recipe just as we are getting into the cold and snowy winter season!!!

  • Reply
    Sharon Glascoe
    December 30, 2017 at 1:34 am

    A big mug of chocolate is great during the colder months. What a wonderful recipe to pass down.

  • Reply
    December 29, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    What a great idea to have on hand! Looks creamy and wonderful too!

  • Reply
    Ashley @ Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen
    December 29, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    My son would go totally ga-ga if I gave him a mug of cocoa with ALL those marshmallows! This looks like such a fun winter treat!

  • Reply
    December 29, 2017 at 9:07 am

    This looks so creamy and delish. Can’t wait to try this out

  • Reply
    Jessica Robinson
    December 29, 2017 at 12:23 am

    This looks so chocolaty and delicious! I have all of my French Canadian Grandmother’s recipes- and they are definitely things that need to be made and cherished.

  • Reply
    Monica Le
    December 28, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    oh this french cocoa looks so delicious… wish I had some right now!

  • Reply
    Leslie Haasch
    December 28, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    I’ve never seen a hot cocoa recipe quite like this before – it looks so decadent!

  • Reply
    December 28, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Could you freeze this in little scoops or mounds? There are only two of us, and I wouldn’t want any of this to go to waste.

    • Reply
      December 28, 2017 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Brenda, that is a great question! I am not sure, but suspect it will work to freeze little scoops and then defrost in the fridge as needed. I really want to know myself, so I am going to try this with a little bit I have left in the fridge right now. I’ll come back and let you know how it goes. Would love to compare notes if you try it, as well!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    I live in France and never heard of French cocoa either, but who cares this recipes sounds delicious and so cosy and since I am in France I have to make it and if Grandma Mary says so, so it is

  • Reply
    Lisa Huff
    December 21, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    Looks so creamy and so much better than regular old cocoa. And that snowman mug, so cute!

  • Reply
    Lisa|Garlic & Zest
    December 21, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    That is the most decadent dessert EVER! I’ve been thinking about what I should make for Christmas dessert – I think I found it.

  • Reply
    Amy @ Little Dairy on the Prairie
    December 21, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    I want a big cup of this today! It looks like grandma nailed it!

  • Reply
    Amy Nash
    December 21, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    I absolutely LOVE those spiral bound family cookbooks and all the treasures they contain! This cocoa looks just incredible and I have never tried a cocoa mix that sounds quite like it! Thanks for sharing!

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