Italian Coffee with Chocolate and Cream

What’s better than a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a cold day? A bicerin coffee, of course.

Made with two shots of espresso, hot chocolate, and whipped cream, it’s comfort in a cup. Keep reading for Home Grounds’ bicerin coffee recipe.

What you need

  • 18g medium-dark roast coffee, espresso grind
  • ¼ cup bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup half-and-half or whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon plain gelatin
  • 4 teaspoons cold water
  • 4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • Aeropress with either Joepresso or Prizmo attachments, Moka pot, or espresso machine
  • Egg beaters, stand mixer, or whisk
  • Small saucepan
  • 20-ounce mug

The History Behind the Bicerin

Bicerin coffee is named for the small, handleless glasses it was originally served in. It’s single-handedly responsible for the designation of Caffe Al Bicerin in Turin, Italy, as an historical landmark (1).

The bicerin evolved from a trendy 18th-century drink of chocolate, milk, syrup, and coffee. At first, the individual components of the bicerin coffee were served separately, gradually melting into a single drink over time. Today, the authentic recipe for bicerin is a local tradition in Turin.

What About Those Other Italian Coffee Cocoa Drinks?

If you’re well-acquainted with Italian coffee culture, you may have heard of Viennese coffee, a foamy Italian drink called the marocchino, or the Espressino. These drinks all contain frothy milk, cocoa powder, and hot espresso. But the bicerin is the over-achiever in this caffeinated family, adding melted chocolate and whipped cream.

Before we delve into how to make this bicerin recipe, let’s look at the ingredients in this coffee drink.

The Espresso

The foundation of this layered drink is the espresso. We prefer the well-balanced sweetness and acidity of a medium-dark roast. But if you want to follow tradition, the smokiness of a dark roast—especially an Italian roast—will stand up well to all these flavors.

The Milk

While we’re using whole milk for this recipe, feel free to replace it with any dairy or non-dairy substitute that works for you. Since we’re aiming for a creamy, velvety drink, we’d suggest oat milk to replicate the mouthfeel.

The Chocolate

We’re using dark chocolate with 60% cacao because it strikes the perfect balance between deep chocolate flavor and sweetness. However, if you want your hot chocolate to have a smokier or sweeter flavor, feel free to change the chocolate. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the more bitter the chocolate will be.

While you can use chocolate chips in a pinch, we recommend baking chocolate for the best results. Chocolate chips contain additives and less cocoa butter, which affects the flavor and how evenly it melts.

Now, let’s get started.

How to Make a Bicerin Coffee

The Italian bicerin is one of the best coffee drinks to make cold, snowy days. Sweet espresso, hot chocolate, and velvety whipped cream come together for a coffee and chocolate drink that’s better than regular hot cocoa.

1. Make Your Hot Chocolate

Add half a cup of whole milk or half-and-half to a small saucepan over medium heat. You’re only looking to heat the milk through, not scald it, so be sure not to let it come to a simmer.

Next, add ¼ cup of chopped bittersweet baking chocolate and stir gently until completely melted. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and granulated sugar, and stir to combine. Once the chocolate mixture is smooth, use some of it to temper your teaspoon of cornstarch before adding it in. Stir in the tempered cornstarch mixture, and keep this chocolate mixture warm until you’re ready to assemble the bicerin.

Pro tip: Tempering cornstarch allows you to thicken sauces, soups, or drinks without adding additional water.

To do this, add chocolate to the cornstarch in a 2-to-1 ratio in a separate bowl. Use a fork to mix the two until it’s smooth. Then, add this mixture back to the main drink.

2. Make Your Whipped Cream

If you’re using store-bought whipping cream, feel free to skip this step.

Put 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and 4 tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar in a bowl or stand mixer and stir to combine. In a separate glass, dissolve 1 teaspoon of plain gelatin in 4 teaspoons of cool water, and add it to the sweetened cream.

Use a whisk, egg beaters, or a stand mixer to whip the heavy cream until it reaches a soft peaks stage. Once you have your whipped cream, scoop it into a chilled bowl and keep it cool in the fridge.

Pro tip: While the gelatin is an optional add-in, we chose to use it because it creates a stabilized whipped cream that will hold its shape if you want to pipe it onto the bicerin for a more elegant presentation.

3. Froth Your Hot chocolate

Froth the hot chocolate mixture by whisking it vigorously to incorporate air. Alternatively, you can pour it into a 32-ounce French press and pump the plunger up and down until the foam is light and airy.

4. Pull Your Espresso Shots

Using 18 grams of ground coffee, pull a double espresso with an Aeropress and an attachment, a Moka pot, or an espresso machine.

Pro tip: To save yourself time, you can pull your shots directly into your mug instead of shot glasses.

5. Assemble Your Bicerin Drink

Pour the hot espresso shots into your mug. You can gently pour the frothed hot chocolate into it over the back of a spoon if you want to create a carefully layered look. Finish off your bicerin coffee by scooping or piping whipped cream on top.

Final Thoughts

That’s how you make a delicious bicerin coffee. Serve it with some coffee cake for an afternoon coffee break, or enjoy it first thing in the morning with an almond croissant.

Did you make this? Drop us a comment below.

FAQs

Yes, you can make an iced bicerin coffee, but you’ll have to replace the dark chocolate with chocolate sauce or syrup. To make this easier, bring your milk or non-dairy substitute to room temperature before adding the chocolate syrup. The warmer temperature will ensure the chocolate fully incorporates into the milk.

Yes, you can make a vegan bicerin coffee. Simply replace the milk in the hot chocolate with oat milk. To make vegan whipped cream, use coconut cream and sugar and follow the steps above.

Yes, you can use sugar substitutes in any part of this bicerin coffee recipe. However, be mindful that many sugar substitutes—with the exception of erythritol—don’t convert cup-for-cup. So, you may need to experiment to find the right amount.

  1. HISTORY | Bicerin. (2013). Retrieved from https://bicerin.it/en/history/

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