Vianne's Chili Hot Chocolate (vegan)

 reading time: 4 min

 “Once upon a time there was a quiet village in the countryside …

Earlier this year I (re-)watched the movie Chocolat from 2000, which I had watched about 15 years ago or so as a child or young teen and didn't remember much about other than that it was about chocolate (yum!) and that Johnny Depp was in it, haha!

Upon watching it again, I fell in love with the warm, delightful, touching, sweet
(literally), and emotionally deep movie, which really isn't a romantic comedy at its heart, in my opinion. Instead, the heart of the movie is the women in the village.

I love the complex characters, the emphasis on female friendships and empowerment, and the fact that the main character Vianne is a "strong" feminine character without sacrificing her femininity. And of course, the mouthwatering and decadent looking chocolate!

("strong" in quotation marks not because I think that Vianne isn't strong – she is –, but because I don't like the phrase "strong female characters" which usually refers to female characters that are athletic, fierce, ruthless,
fearless, hard-boiled heroines etc., and lean very heavily on the masculine side of the spectrum with little to no femininity in sight, which in turn suggests that femininity isn't strong, which is of course bullsh*t – all of these traits I just listed make a female character "athletic, fierce, ruthless" etc. but not "strong"; isn't a very feminine woman going through pregnancy and leading with love instead of fear also "strong" without being emotionally inaccessible and kick-boxing her enemies? – anyway, I'm getting a little sidetracked here ...)

What I love most about the chocolate aspect of the film is that it introduces hot chocolate, or rather cacao, as an ancient Maya recipe, a brew that "held the power to unlock hidden yearnings and reveal destinies" (although the portrayal of Vianne's parents' love story is fairly problematic, as is the portrayal of Christianity / Catholics!).

Vianne essentially transforms the entire (steadfastly traditional) French village for the better with the "magic" of her chocolate, or rather cacao.

One of her first customers in her chocolaterie is her landlady Armande Voizin whom she offers a hot chocolate with chili pepper in it.

Armande: Chili pepper in hot chocolate?
Vianne: Mm-hm. It will give you a lift.
Armande: [takes a sip] It tastes like ... I don't know. [giggles]

Armande Voizin enjoying her cup of *spicy* hot chocolate.

In this instance the hot chocolate is meant as a cure for the old landlady Armande who is "tired of life and of playing games".

This is very similar to drinking
healing hot ceremonial cacao in a cacao ceremony which was used by the Aztec and Mayan as a sacred drink. It allows for energetic heart expansion, reconnection, and letting go of emotional blockages. And the chili pepper (that Vianne adds to her hot chocolate) is supposed to work as a spiritual accelerator in cacao ceremonies that activates the cacao and helps the body assimilate it faster.

That's why this recipe uses ceremonial cacao along with regular dark chocolate, and of course – chili pepper!

The flavour is very rich and aromatic, dark, but sweet.


Preparation time: 10 mins
Main ingredients: cacao, chocolate, non-dairy milk, chili
difficulty level: easy
makes: 1 large mug or 2 smaller cups
suitable for: vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, soy-free, yeast-free


300 ml plant-based milk (such as barista oat milk or
almond milk)
1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground chili or cayenne pepper, or as hot as you like it
a pinch of sea salt
25 g organic raw ceremonial grade cacao * (I use Forastero cacao from Bali)
40 g organic vegan
dark chocolate (I use 70 %)

1-2 tsp natural sweetener, i.e. coconut blossom sugar, raw cane sugar, agave syrup or raw honey

(optional) vegan whipped cream

* This is not the same as regular cacao or even cocoa! Make sure it says 100% ceremonial grade cacao on the packaging. Ceremonial cacao can come as a paste, powder or discs.


To a small saucepan, add the plant-based milk. Add cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon, as well as chili/cayenne, and sea salt. Heat up the spiced milk to just before a boil, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime chop the cacao and the dark chocolate into small chunks.

Once the milk is just too hot to the touch, but not boiling, remove from heat. Discard the cinnamon stick, if using.

Slowly stir the cacao and chocolate chunks into the warm milk, until fully melted. Add sweetening to taste.

If you like to have a more creamy hot chocolate, transfer to a heat-safe blender, or use an immersion blender to buzz until super-creamy and frothy.

Serve warm
, and top off with a dollop of vegan whipped cream if you like. (Highly recommended! Even better when sprinkled with more chili flakes, cacao nibs, and some more sugar and cacao powder.)

Enjoy by yourself or in good company