Bicerin is one of the most heavenly drinks you will ever have the pleasure of sipping! It warms, it wakes and it lulls, all in equal measure. And Turin, in Italy, is home to Bicerin, one of Italy’s best kept secrets. Unless you’ve been to Turin, chances are, you’ve never had, or perhaps, never even heard of, Bicerin, a hot, luscious drink of espresso, chocolate and milk or cream.
While you’ll find it served everywhere in Turin, Bicerin has actually got a home! It is said to have been invented in the late 18th century at Caffe al Bicerin, a small and cosy establishment at the Piazza della Consolata. And this is how Bicerin is said to have come about – there were three variations of coffee served to customers in the early days: coffee with milk, coffee with chocolate and a little bit of everything. The last drink, a little coffee, chocolate and milk, ended up being the most popular, and il resto, as they say, è storia! (The rest is history!)
Caffe al Bicerin has seen many famous faces walk through its historic doors; Alexandre Dumas and Puccini are just two of its more distinguished clientele. I’m sure, however, they didn’t pay the equivalent of €7 – €8 that you’ll have to cough up for a glass of Bicerin these days, a rather steep price, but I suppose you’re paying not just for the coffee, but also the experience.
The picture below shows you a shot glass of Bicerin, something I love serving up to my clients, as a surprise. Isn’t it cute?
How to Make Bicerin at Home
Until you get to Turin, you’ll just have to make it for yourself!
For a start, Bicerin is always served in a glass, in fact, that’s what the word means in Piedmontese, small glass.
Bicerin – pronounced Bi – Cheh – Reen
Piedmontese – the language spoken by many locals in Piedmont, a region in north west Italy. Turin is its capital.
The chocolate that Bicerin is made with is very dark and very thick. The coffee is strong and dark, fresh espresso is always best, whether you make it using a coffee machine, in a moka pot or in a cafetière. And you also want fresh, frothy milk or cream, my preference is for double or heavy cream, lightly whipped. So want to make Bicerin at home? Start right as mentioned above!
I recently posted a recipe for Cioccolata Calda, Italian Hot Chocolate (image below), and that is what I always use to make Bicerin. I make both drinks so often that it’s practically second nature to me, the chocolate takes 5 minutes while the coffee is brewing, then it’s less than a minute of bringing it all together.
When I make Bicerin for guests or clients, I pour the hot chocolate over the back of a spoon to create a layer. You can do that or not, that’s completely up to you. In Turin, more often than not, the hot chocolate is just poured over the coffee and gets mixed up into one very dark homogenous mix, before being topped with cream or frothy milk.
So there you have it, forget the mocha, the latte, the cappuccino, because now you know Bicerin! For more drink recipes, be sure to check out the Drinks Page!
- 4 shots of espresso
- 1 portion cioccolata calda
- 125ml (half a cup) fresh cream, lightly whipped, sweetened or not, up to you
- Divide the espresso between 2 glasses.
- Top with the hot chocolate, divided equally.
- Finish off with the cream. Serve immediately.