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Hot Chocolate with La Dame Blanche

Hot Chocolate with La Dame Blanche

Dragonfly in Amber

“The White Lady,” he murmured.  “She is called a wisewoman, a healer.  And yet…she sees to the center of a man, and can turn his soul to ashes, if evil be found there.”  He bobbed his head, turned, and shuffled off hastily in the direction of the kitchen.  I saw his elbow bob, and realized that he was crossing himself as he went.

“Jesus H. Christ,” I said, turning back to Jamie.  “Did you ever hear of La Dame Blanche?”

“Um? Oh? Oh, aye, I’ve…heard the stories.” Jamie’s eyes were hidden by long auburn lashes as he buried his nose in his cup of chocolate, but the blush on his cheeks was too deep to be put down to the heat of the rising steam.

I leaned back in my chair, crossed my arms, and regarded him narrowly.

“Oh, you have?” I said. “Would it surprise you to hear that the men who attacked Mary and me last night referred to me as La Dame Blanche?”

“They did?” He looked up quickly at that, startled.

Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber (Chapter 20 – La Dame Blanche)

In 1643, Princess Maria Theresa of Spain brought a gift of chocolate to France.

The royal chocolatiers had another 100 years to get Chocolat Chaud just right before J&C came to stay at Jared’s.

Thankfully, they came up with a real winner.


Parisian Hot Chocolate is a lot different than that powdered stuff Carnation keeps trying to convince me to add water to.  I won’t say a lot more, except maybe to add that corn syrup solids, hydrogenated vegetable oil, dipotassium phosphate (and many, many more) simply aren’t welcome in my cup.

Instead, I love the simplicity of this recipe from David Lebowitz, former pastry chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, turned full-time food writer and cookbook author from his home in Paris.

The key to success with a two-ingredient recipe is quality ingredients.  That means using WHOLE milk (leave the skim for tomorrow morning’s cereal) and high-quality chocolate.  I used Camino Bittersweet Baking Chocolate, an organic, free-trade brand with 71% cacao.

Although David also calls for (optional) sugar, neither my Englishman nor I thought it was needed.  That said, I used a little coarse turbinado sugar along with a few flakes of fleur de sel as a pretty garnish.  The salty sweet combo was the perfect finishing touch.  A pinch of cayenne on top wouldn’t go amiss either.


(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)

Hot Chocolate with La Dame Blanche

: The thickest, richest most delicious hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted.  All with just 2 ingredients…or 3 if you like it sweet.

Yield:  4 small servings

  • Whole Milk – 2 Cups (500 ml)
  • Bittersweet or Semi-Sweet Chocolate, finely chopped – 5 oz (130 g)
  • Sugar (optional) – up to 2 Tble

Heat the milk in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat.

When the milk is warm, whisk in the chocolate, stirring until melted and steaming hot. To thicken, increase the heat to medium and cook at a low boil for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly.

Taste, and decide if you need to sweeten it with a bit of sugar.  Serve warm, in small demitasse or coffee cups, sprinkled with a bit of Fleur de Sel, (finishing salt), if desired.

Ith gu leòir! (Eat Plenty)


  • This hot chocolate is even better when made a few hours ahead. Rewarm and thin with more milk, if necessary, before serving.
  • A drop of Grand Marnier in mine almost made my heart burst with joy.  Peppermint liqueur or Creme de Menthe would also be lovely.  (Just make sure the cask is clean of bodies if you choose the latter.)


  1. Lindsey
    January 17, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Great post. Simple recipe. Perfect for the cold weather. Since my experience with chocolate is limited to Hershey’s chocolate chips, is cacao content basically the way to determine whether or not a chocolate is high quality, or are there other factors to consider?

    • Theresa
      January 17, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      The price is the best indicator, Lindsey. 😉 But you want to stay out of the baking aisle and find your way to a good, dark eating chocolate. (That said, I used baking chocolate — just a very, very good one.)

    • Marine
      September 17, 2015 at 3:06 am

      You know that in France ” une Dame blanche “is also a kind of ice cream.

  2. Tiffany
    January 17, 2013 at 1:45 am

    High cocoa solids content: less than 50% will have little real chocolate taste and one with more than 70% will have a much more complex and fine chocolate taste.
    Actual cocoa butter as opposed to vegetable oils which are cheaper than cocoa butter (prices have increased in recent years due to demand in the cosmetics industry).
    Smooth texture, this is from a longer conching period (in which the chocolate is crushed in a concher).

    Poor quality chocolate will have a low cocoa solids percentage and vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter.

    In baking milk chocolate and other low cocoa solid chocolates are not appropriate as they have a weak chocolate flavor which dissipates during baking do a finer chocolate is necessary.

    Milk chocolate may go rancid and taste of ‘bad olive oil’ as note here due to the fats in the milk going rancid.

    • Theresa
      January 17, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      Thank you!

  3. Lior
    January 17, 2013 at 5:36 am


    • Theresa
      January 17, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      Anytime. LOL

  4. Ms. Aaron Brown
    January 17, 2013 at 8:02 am

    I love sweet and salty– can’t wait to give this a try. I wish I was prepared today, it cold this morning!!

    • Theresa
      January 17, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      Get that chocolate, Aaron! 🙂

  5. Ada
    January 17, 2013 at 9:14 am

    I love it you’re using grams and liters too, now! That’s saving me some time making calculations in my Dutch kitchen 🙂
    Sounds delicious, this one!

    • Theresa
      January 17, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      I should have always used both scales, Ada. I’m Canadian and a metric lass, for goodness sakes!

  6. Christiane Kypraios
    January 17, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Nice idea to post about hot chocolate ! for a few days we’ve been having cold weather in France, freezing below O°C, so a nice cup of hot chocolate is welcome ! (just had one with husband and a friend actually). I make it more or less like you do, do love some “fleur de sel” on top. I use a chocolate we find here in European countries “Van Houten”, with about 70% cocoa, one of the best we can find here, it’s not powder but with chocolate flakes and I use whole milk, boiling the mixture for a few minutes so the beverage gets nicely thick and creamy. By the way, have you heard of the “Maison du Chocolat”? They have got the best chocolates ever. Thankyou Theresa and many greetings from France.

    • Theresa
      January 17, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      I’m glad my recipe agrees with yours, Christiane! Van Houten makes lovely chocolate. It’s hard to find here, and now you have me missing it!

  7. Bev
    January 17, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I just listened to this last night on my way through DIA again. I could easily imagine Jamie burying his nose in his hot chocolate…

    This recipe sounds wonderful! I drink hot chocolate instead of coffee and quite enjoyed the different flavour when in Paris but I don’t think they made it with this recipe. Whole milk and good chocolate will have to go on the shopping list!

    • Theresa
      January 17, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      Hot Chocolate is an art in Paris, Bev! There must be a thousand varities. If only we had time to try them all…

    • Bev
      January 18, 2013 at 6:07 pm

      I’m game to try!! but I have to say our most favourite treat in Paris were salted caramels. Our hotel was close to a shop that sold them, so fresh and so delicious. It is a good thing I don’t live there….

  8. Mana
    January 17, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Haha I’ve actually been making this myself for the last week as a change from my tea but I,ve gone a little light on the chocolate because it’s a dark one and has a slightly clove flavour. It’s a fantastically delicious recipe though I’m sure yours is so much better than mine lol

    • Theresa
      January 17, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      Don’t say that, Mana! I bet your version is delicious! Great minds think alike, eh?

  9. Jeanne
    January 17, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Just what the doctor ordered! Perhaps a wee drappie o’t?

    • Theresa
      January 17, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      I think so, Jeanne!

  10. Debbie Michaels
    January 17, 2013 at 11:52 am

    I LOVE chocolate in any form, but really needed a great hot chocolate recipe. I really love the idea if the Fleur de Sel, yummy! Thanks!

    • Theresa
      January 17, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      My pleasure, Debbie…enjoy!

  11. Natalie (@fashionatalie)
    January 18, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    This looks delicious…love the photo too 🙂

  12. denizb33
    January 18, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    Yum! I can’t drink hot chocolate unless it’s the real thing (in a pinch I’ll heat up milk and stir in cocoa). This stuff looks awesomely thick. It’s -25 degrees out there today – I need some!

  13. Lynn
    January 21, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Tried this tonight as dessert for our anniversary (35th) supper. I only used a 3.5 oz chocolate bar, but it was 70% cocoa. I added 1 TBSP sugar. Topped it with some whipped topping. Hubby added some drambuie. But, it wasn’t sweet enough for him, so he put in some vanilla ice cream. I thought it was just awesome=but then again, I like dark chocolate and he’s a milk chocoate kind of a guy. I added a wee bit of orange juice when I had a few swallows left in the cup….yum, yum! What a treat!

    • Theresa
      January 22, 2013 at 1:59 pm

      The variations are endless! To booze or not to booze, that is the question. 😉

  14. Lauren
    January 21, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Thank you so much for this lovely hot chocolate recipe. What a wonderful birthday gift! It’s about to get really cold here in the northeastern US and I’m going to be itching for some good chocolate. I see it being made tomorrow night when I come home from school. 🙂 Thank you for all of your wonderful recipes too!!!

    • Theresa
      January 22, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      Happy Birthday, Lauren!

  15. Jann Durkin (Brophy/Brody clan)
    March 3, 2013 at 1:00 am

    Oh, dear Lord. This must be heaven. I just made this tonight. It is rich, velvetly, utterly delicious. What a treat!

  16. Jenny
    December 21, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    “Just make sure the cask is clean of bodies if you choose the latter.” LOL

    • Denise S
      July 3, 2015 at 7:50 pm

      Hahaha just realised what this was a reference to!

  17. Anna Lapping
    January 5, 2015 at 6:32 am

    A shot of rum or brandy wouldn’t go amiss either I think. Sounds decadent, and it’s going to be very cold this week.

  18. pam
    January 5, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Best hot chocolate I had was in Quebec. Never could the e recipe from the lady. Yours was darn close. Went well with the scones. Anyone ever tried hot chocolate with cayenne pepper? Husband swears by it. I’m not brave enough to try it.

  19. Jody Lamond
    January 7, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Going to try this tonight! Cayenne pepper is so good with chocolate anything (and in homemade creamed corn) . I get the Lindt bars that have Cayenne in them cause its hard to find really good chocolate. Also good in a decadent mousse dessert..

  20. Kate Wilson
    February 21, 2015 at 7:18 am

    Oh, envy! My food allergies/sensitivities would prevent me from making this decadence in a cup. Claire must have a digestive tract made of iron – I would starve to death if I traveled back in time! Not to be deterred though, I’ve come up with what I feel is a fantastic substitute hot chocolate recipe: unsweetened almond/coconut milk, raw cacao powder, a little bit of coconut sugar (regular sugar causes to much inflammation) and a dash of vanilla extract. I’ve used goat’s milk as well which is creamier and a bit tart. Verra good indeed!

  21. Denise S
    July 3, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    It’s a drizzly overcast winter’s day here and I felt like something hot, sweet and decadent. Of course Outlander Kitchen recipes always spring to mind first and lo and behold, a hot chocolate recipe. I only had Cadbury’s powdered cocoa, so used two heaped teaspoons of that in one cup of milk & one cup of cream, two teaspoons of raw sugar, I grated a chunk of leftover chocolate in while it was heating in the pot and then dropped in 1/4 of a cinnamon stick. I stirred a dollop of Grand Marnier as suggested at the end. Pure heaven in a cup. Lucky my hubby woke from his nap otherwise I’d be drinking his share too.

    • Theresa
      July 5, 2015 at 7:16 am

      Well done with what you had on hand! Sounds delicious.

  22. Anna Lapping
    September 16, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Ah, Theresa, this reminds me of when my daughter (the Lawyer one) tried to make hot chocolate, and she used heavy cream and chocolate…fine when hot, but quickly became chocolate ganache when she brought it out to the bonfire and 35 degree F temps.

  23. Lee Ann Buckley
    September 17, 2015 at 4:38 am

    Gosh!! You brought back a memory so vivid that my mouth started watering! Mom in the kitchen making REAL hot chocolate! I haven’t thought of that in 40 years. Thanks for that memory jolt. I think I need to go buy some chocolate for my grandsons!

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