Barbajada (Milanese Hot Chocolate-Coffee Drink) Recipe

This Italian drink is a frothy mix of hot chocolate and coffee.

A glass mug of Milanese hot chocolate and coffee layered with whipped cream.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Combining coffee and hot chocolate = maximum fun.
  • Whisking the mixture makes it extra frothy.

I suffer the occasional crisis triggered by an inability to make a decision...about hot drinks. This can happen anywhere, but ice-skating rinks and ski slopes are particularly likely scenes. It starts with my daily need for caffeine, specifically in the form of a steaming cup of black coffee. But as I approach the counter to order my joe, someone always walks by with a frothy cup of hot chocolate. I freeze with indecision.

Only the coffee will deliver the dose of caffeine I need, but that hot chocolate is singing a sweet, whipped-cream-topped siren song.

Turns out there's an easy solution: Take a cue from the Milanese, and put both into one mug. The drink is called barbajada, and it's as simple as it is brilliant.*

*Hat tip to commenter @SteUK for introducing me to it!

Whisking cocoa powder and sugar into pot of milk.

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

There's not too much technique to discuss here—making it is something we all know how to do. Mix some cocoa powder with sugar, whisk it into hot milk, and add coffee. (Any strong coffee will do, whether that's a couple of espresso shots or a concentrated brew made with your preferred method.)

It's worth noting that different types of cocoa powder will yield slightly different results in this recipe, with natural cocoa powder creating a more acidic, fruity flavor, while Dutch-processed cocoa will be earthier and nuttier. In this application, Dutch would be my recommendation since coffee generally brings its own acidity. Also, take note of the cocoa's fat content—supermarket brands like Hershey's are inexpensive because they're partially defatted, while powders like Valrhona or Cacao Barry Extra Brute have nearly twice the fat, helping to improve the mouthfeel in a light-bodied drink like this one.

overhead shot of barbajada topped with frothy whipped cream

Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Once you've combined the ingredients, just whisk them all until the mixture is steaming and very frothy, then ladle into warmed mugs. A big dollop of whipped cream on top is practically de rigueur. Although, since this is from Italy, I'd be more correct to say that the whipped cream is d'obbligo. You know, obligatory, which is what combining hot chocolate and coffee is going to be from now on at my house.

March 2017

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 10 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (3/4 ounce; 25g)

  • 1/4 cup sugar (2 ounces; 55g)

  • 1 1/2 cups (355mlmilk

  • 2/3 cup (160ml) strong coffee or espresso

  • Whipped cream, for serving

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together cocoa powder and sugar until thoroughly combined. In a medium saucepan, heat milk over moderate heat until steaming. Whisk in cocoa/sugar mixture along with coffee, whisking rapidly until hot and frothy. Divide into warmed mugs and top with whipped cream.

    Whisking strong hot coffee into pot of hot chocolate.

    Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Special Equipment

Whisk

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
141 Calories
4g Fat
24g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 141
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 4%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 11mg 4%
Sodium 49mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 19g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 115mg 9%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 181mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)