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I know this question has been asked before here and here, but none of the provided solutions have made any difference.

Every time I attempt to make hot chocolate, there's a grittiness to it, like there's tiny sand grains or particulate matter suspended in the liquid which just won't melt. The culprit is definitely cocoa, but I've tried numerous experiments and simply cannot get rid of it.

I've tried a couple of different recipes, including this, this, these, and a couple others.

The most frustrating part is that no one seems to mention this grittiness. Everyone promises a "silky smooth" result, but nothing I try gets that result and no one mentions it.

The obvious solution is to lower the amount of cocoa powder per unit of liquid, which is the only solution I've found, but this only works in vastly lower ratios than any of the recipes mentioned above. The first recipe, for example, uses a half litre of milk and 100g of dark chocolate, whereas I can't get the desired result with 1.5 cups and 10g of dark chocolate, a mere third of the amount of chocolate they use, and they also use cocoa powder! The result of mine is still gritty.

I've tried a couple of different techniques:

  • Whisk in the cocoa powder with the milk before heating
  • Lower the heat and add the cocoa powder bit by bit
  • Create a cocoa powder slurry with a 1:1 ratio of water to cocoa powder by volume, smoothing out any graininess with my (clean) finger and drizzling that in slowly
  • Melt a small amount 70% cacao chocolate into the milk instead of cocoa powder
  • Straining with a fine-mesh sieve
  • Adding the cocoa powder at different liquid temperatures (I've tested adding cocoa powder from fridge cold to about 200°F in intervals of about 25°)
  • Pulsing the final mixture in a blender.

For reference, I'm using Fry's cocoa power and Lindt 70% chocolate.

Nothing has worked. This has persisted with different pans and in different kitchens on different burners.

I should also add that it's not merely my own taste: I've had friends try it and confirm that there is a grittiness to it that isn't present in other hot chocolates they've had.

Please! What the HELL is going wrong? I can't believe I'm getting this angry over hot chocolate but I feel like I'm going insane: I cannot get rid of this stupid texture, no matter how many variations I try, and yet it seems like this never happens to anyone else! I've never had so much trouble with a cooking technique before! What sins have I committed to lock me out of the heaven of smooth hot chocolate?

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    Slightly confused: the second video link doesn’t use cocoa powder at all? So if that’s still grainy, it would actually exonerate the cocoa powder? And second, have you tried another brand of cocoa powder, just in case? Unlike chocolate, cocoa won’t melt and I would expect at least Lindt to have a fine-enough cocoa grain in their chocolate to exclude them (wild guess based partly on the fact that they invented the conche). And if you tried any recipe without cocoa powder, only chocolate, did you get grittiness? If yes, did you bring the mix up to boiling?
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 23:15
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    Just to ensure that we are using the same wording (although the terms are often used quite interchangeably): Hot chocolate usually is made by dissolving chocolate in (usually) milk. Hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder (and sugar) in milk. All your videos link to hot chocolate, but in one of your bullet points you write about “Melt a small amount 70% cacao chocolate into the milk instead of cocoa powder”. Are we confusing drinks here? Both are chocolate-flavored concoctions, yet quite different in many aspects, including mouthfeel.
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 11, 2022 at 23:33
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    Wait, all this time there's been a difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa? I thought the principles were the same this whole time, I mean I swear I've seen both titles applied to recipes involving either cocoa powder or chocolate, but I could be wrong. Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 0:01
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    The distinction is not iron-clad, and colloquially terms are used interchangeably, but yes, there is a difference. And if we try to get to the roots of your gritty problem, we should be clear what we’re talking about.
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 0:07
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    Real cocoa powder is gritty unless you give it time to settle out. There's no avoiding that, it's insoluble. Supermarket hot chocolate, on the other hand, the manufacturer threw the solids away for you before they dried it. There are similarities to this issue - cooking.stackexchange.com/q/122613/42066
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Dec 12, 2022 at 8:01

1 Answer 1

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Absent of seeing your hot chocolate preparation directly, I think it is hard to tell what specifically is wrong. I'm going to offer some more things that you can try. If all of these fail I think you should go to a friend whose hot chocolate you like and ask them to make it for you, and figure out what they're doing differently. (Maybe you should do this anyway?)

If you're making hot chocolate from cocoa powder, try putting the dry cocoa powder (and any spices you're using) in a small bowl, and then adding a small amount of boiling water to dissolve the cocoa. It should be enough water that the cocoa-water mixture is a liquid, but not too much because that'll make it tricky to dissolve the chocolate evenly. Then warm up your milk, dissolve the sugar, and once it's at the temperature you want, add the cocoa-water mixture to the milk.

Making hot cocoa from solid chocolate is a little trickier because it is very easy to make your solid chocolate unhappy. One reason this might happen is excessively high temperatures (anything close to boiling) which will make the fat in the chocolate separate out.

Another way this can happen is when your chocolate seizes, which happens when you add a small amount of (usually cold) liquid and instead of the chocolate melting nicely into the liquid it becomes weird and grainy. You can fix this by warming up the liquid you're dissolving the chocolate in first, and adding it all at once.

(I will also mention that hot chocolate made from commercial hot chocolate powder is less likely to be gritty than hot chocolate made from cocoa powder. I think they add some specific additive to do this, although I don't know what. If you're willing to admit defeat on the home-made hot chocolate front, you could try that instead.)

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