Cooler weather calls for cozying up with a warm cup of hot chocolate, especially now that we’re mostly stuck at home these days. It’s one of the sweetest ways to enjoy a cold day. While melting a pure bar of chocolate with milk or cream is one of the best ways to enjoy a cup at home, there are many chocolatiers who’ve created hot chocolate that’s easier to make, but no less delicious. Try these 5 (or give them as gifts to your favorite chocoholic) that I’ve taste tested for you. Yes, someone had to indulge.
Marie-Belle SoHo in NYC is one of my favorite places to buy chocolates for friends. The hand-painted chocolates are not only pretty but they come in flavors for those who prefer unique flavors. Hand raised! And there’s a pretty cacao bar in the back to sip a chocolate inspired cocktails–or a cup of hot chocolate. Since socializing isn’t popular these days, now we can indulge in some of the best hot chocolate available at home. I love the Aztec Dark Hot Chocolate, rich at 65% South American single-origin pure chocolate instead of cocoa powder. You may also like the milk/hazelnut hot chocolate.
I’ve enjoyed sitting at the Jacques Torres shop in NYC’s Dumbo sipping a hot chocolate or eating an ice cream during the summer. A Slice of Brooklyn Chocolate Tour –a must-do tour when things get back to “normal”–stops here for samples of Jacques’ treats. The hot chocolate is among my favorite, especially the decadent and intense Wicked Hot Chocolate. This is a classic hot chocolate, made with 60% real Belgian chocolate, but it’s intense and spicy, as it contains ancho and chipotle chili peppers. Oh la la.
Another one of my favorite NYC haunts for all things chocolate, Vosges Haut-Chocolat in Soho (very close to Marie-Belle, above) is pretty in purple and white, the brand’s elegant colors. That elegance translates over into their beautiful chocolates (the Exotic collection is divine) and the La Parisienne Drinking Chocolate, an infusion of dark chocolate and Madagascar vanilla bean. Owner Katrina Markoff believes that food is a transformative, visceral experience. I completely agree.
Sometimes a more mellow milk chocolate is in order. L.A. Burdick, which has chocolate shops in NYC, Chicago, Cambridge, and Washington, D.C. suggests steaming milk to mix with this milk drinking chocolate for a rich cup. You can buy a set: hot cocoa packaged with a cup and a small whisk–perfect for gift-giving time.
If you like peppermint in your drinking chocolate, certainly a fitting flavor combination for the holidays, Williams-Sonoma’s velvety Peppermint Hot Chocolate contains shavings of Guittard chocolate with the zing of peppermint. Add some marshmallows for an all-out winter treat.