Cocoa blocks: building a great cup of hot chocolate

CocoaBlocks

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. RebeccaG

    How many ounces of unsweetened chocolate is 3/4 of a cup? The only unsweetened I seem to be able to find is in bars…

    Thanks!
    HI Rebecca
    One cup of chocolate weighs 6 ounces, so 4 1/2 ounces is 3/4 cup. Thanks for asking! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. eleanorcerny

    I see that someone also had a problem with the chocolate not quite setting up as much as desired. You did answer that question I know, but I cannot find it. Would you please tell us again??
    If the chocolate is not setting up, then there was most likely a measurement error with the chocolate or the cream. ~Amy @KAF

    This could also be due to the cream used; we’ve found that whipping cream vs. heavy cream makes a difference, with heavy cream setting up better. PJH

    Reply
  3. krystinamarie

    So, I have to ask – sometimes at work if we don’t have milk, or when I’m feeling fake diet-y, I use the packets with hot water instead of milk, or half hot water & half milk.

    How do you think these will come out with hot water? I want to make them to bring into work and I know at least 3 people are on diets, so they’ll probably use water, too…

    I think the blocks would dissolve into hot water, but I’m not certain the flavor would be ideal. If possible, I would use half water and half milk. – kelsey

    Reply
  4. Aaron Frank

    Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU! Neuhaus used to sell a version of these which they’ve since discontinued. Now I can make my own! And they’re also great for mochas too.

    Aaron

    Reply
  5. Madeline

    Ahhhh, these with your homemade marshmallows would be just the thing for a family time game night. Thanks so much for the inspiration you share.

    Reply
  6. Cindy leigh

    MJ, that’s so cool!
    When you stir the blocks into the warm milk, is the chocolate flavor comparable to a hot chocolate packet? Just as chocolate-y?
    Hmmm…. ghirardelli used to make white hot chocolate powder with a flavoring, either toffee or hazelnut and I have not found it in a long time- I wonder if white chocolate and hazelnut flavoring would be good in this recipe?

    I believe the flavor is much richer than a hot cocoa packet especially since those products are usually mixed with water instead of milk. White chocolate and hazelnut would make excellent variations to this recipe. ~Amy

    Reply
  7. strandjss

    This is a wonderful recipe and idea. My children and grandchildren love chocolate. Two of my adult children love to nibble on bitter chocolate with their red wine. This will be divine and a great fit to send in the mail. Thank you so much. I just finished watching Chocolat the movie so the recipe is timely.

    Reply
  8. taieena

    Ok, so I just made these, and I sent pics of the entire pan to a couple of friends. They’re drooling already over the pics AND the recipe. :) Nice and simple one, too- I shared the blog post on my Facebook page for them. Thanks!!!

    And thank YOU for sharing the link. The more people that know about this decadent yet simple treat, the better! PJH

    Reply
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. "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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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

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