So if you’re anything like me—and I know that you are, that’s why we’re such good friends—you’re basically always craving chocolate, but you’re also always trying to trick other people into thinking you’re healthy.
“Oh, I couldn’t possibly have a cookie right now,” you say, lying through your teeth, “I just taught three spin classes and had my second kale smoothie of the morning. I’m stuffed!” Meanwhile, your interior monologue is basically “Cookiecookiecookiecookiecookiecookiecookiecookiecookieeeeee!”
Good news, sweet teeth. I’ve found a loophole!
Meet chocolate soup, your new best friend. It’s basically ultra-rich and creamy hot chocolate, with a few tweaks, served in a bowl with cinnamon croissant croutons and vanilla bean whipped crème fraiche. It’s for serious chocolate lovers only. It’s heaven in a bowl. And it’s the best excuse ever, because if anyone asks, you’re skipping dessert and instead having seconds of “soup.” Because you are just that healthy.
There are a lot of different chocolate soup recipes out there, ranging from recipes that looked like weak hot chocolate (boooo!) to ones that contained 1/3 cup cornstarch or more (ick!). Most recipes seemed to agree that some sort of thickening agent was needed, to make the soup more hearty than regular hot chocolate, and corn starch was most often the thickener of choice.
I have nothing against corn starch, and in fact I used a little bit in this recipe, but only a few spoonfuls. I didn’t want my soup to taste gummy or starchy, two dangers of cornstarch use. So instead, I thickened my soup with a bit of starch and a bit of egg yolks, the common thickener in puddings and custards that makes them so rich. Mixing the two means that I got the best of both worlds (thickness and richness) without tipping too far into excess and winding up with chocolate gloop.
Oh, and the other secret to getting thick chocolate soup? CHOCOLATE. Lots and lots of it—in fact, I used a pound for one recipe, which is 6-8 servings. You can reduce it down to 12 oz if you like, but as long as I’m literally eating FREAKING CHOCOLATE SOUP FROM A BOWL, I’m going to make it as epic as I can.
I was a little bit worried that the chocolate would be just way too intense, so I decided to temper it by adding some orange flavor. I infused the milk for the chocolate soup with the zest of an orange for an hour, to give it a bright, fruity note that worked well with the somewhat bitter chocolate. If you’re not a chocolate-orange person, you can leave it out and have just plain chocolate soup, or add a spoonful of your favorite flavoring extract.
In defense of the chocolate-orange choice, those flavors worked very nicely with the toppings for the soup: cinnamon-sugar croissant “croutons,” and vanilla bean whipped crème fraiche. The croutons couldn’t be easier: toss crouton cubes with butter, sugar, and cinnamon, and bake until golden. The hardest part is not eating them straight from the oven, because they’re going to make your house smell amazing and you’re only human, aren’t you? There’s no shame in going back and making a second batch because you nibbled too many from the first batch. So I’ve been told. By friends. Ahem.
The vanilla bean whipped crème fraiche is another super-easy kitchen hack—just combine cream and crème fraiche, add some vanilla bean paste, and whip until it’s pillowy and light, like shaving cream. The crème fraiche gives it a lovely, slightly tangy flavor, and makes it more robust and less likely to turn into grainy soup at the slightest whiff of overbeating.
It should come as no surprise that this is a really intensely, richly chocolatey dessert, best served in small bowls about half the size of the ones picture here. (Do as I say, not as I do!) It’s a fabulous, unexpected dessert, perfect for the chilly winter months the rest of you are enjoying. And if you make it, don’t hesitate to brag to your early-morning yoga class that you have so much energy because “I ate nothing but a simple soup last night. Ommmmm.”
Chocolate Soup With Croissant Croutons
For the Chocolate Soup:
For the Croissant Croutons:
- 2 large croissants
- 1 oz unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
For the Whipped Crème Fraiche:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup crème fraiche
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 2 tsp vanilla extract
To Make the Chocolate Soup:
- Use a vegetable peeler to peel off the orange part of the rind, leaving the bitter white pith on the fruit. Combine the orange rind, milk, and half-and-half in a large saucepan, and place it over medium heat. Bring the milk to a simmer, with bubbles appearing along the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and cover it with a lid. Let it sit to infuse the orange flavor in the milk, for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours, depending on how strong you want the orange flavor to be.
- While you are waiting for your cream to infuse, finely chop the semi-sweet chocolate. Mix the cornstarch and cold water together in a small bowl, making sure the cornstarch is entirely dissolved. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl nearby.
- Once the cream has infused for your desired time, return the pan to the heat, and bring it back until it is nearly at a simmer—you want it hot but not boiling. Add the chopped chocolate, and whisk consistently until it melts. Add the cornstarch and whisk it in. Finally, start whisking the egg yolks, and as you do that, drizzle in about a cup of the hot chocolate milk mixture—adding the hot milk gradually "tempers" the egg yolks so that they don't cook and congeal.
- Finally, whisk the hot chocolate mixture in the pan as you drizzle in the bowl of egg yolks. Add the salt and vanilla, and cook the chocolate soup, whisking frequently, until it is very hot and thickens slightly. It should have the texture of a nice creamy soup.
- Serve warm, topped with a handful of croissant croutons and a generous dollop of crème fraiche whipped cream.
To Make the Croissant Croutons:
- Preheat the oven to 300 F, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the croissants into small cubes. Place the butter in a large bowl, and microwave it for 15 seconds, or until melted.
- Add the croissants to the butter in the bowl, and toss to coat. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together, then sprinkle the mixture over the croissants and toss everything together. Scatter the croissant cubes on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake at 300 F for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until the croutons are lightly golden and crunchy. Cool completely, then enjoy!
To Make the Whipped Crème Fraiche:
- Chill your mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Combine the heavy cream, crème fraiche, powdered sugar, and vanilla bean paste or extract in the chilled bowl. Beat on medium-high speed, scraping down the bowl once or twice, until the mixture is thickened and holds firm peaks. Don’t overbeat, or it will get grainy!