The best way to taste chocolate is to “put it on your tongue and let it melt,” says Kara Nielsen (MET’06), a former staffer in BU’s culinary certificate program, who used to work for the Scharffen Berger chocolate company in Berkeley, Calif. But at this time of year, sipping from a cup of rich, warm cocoa ranks a close second.
Hot chocolate for grown-ups is more popular than ever, and specialty purveyors from around the globe are getting into the game. Greater
L. A. Burdick
D Brattle Street
Price: $3 small
The oversized mugs grasped by almost every customer at this cozy Harvard Square chocolate shop and bakery are emblazoned with the word chocolate — as if there could be any doubt. The luscious stuff served here, topped by a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg, is more appropriately called “drinking chocolate,” not hot cocoa. Indeed, using a high proportion of actual chocolate shavings along with cocoa powder is a practice that
Price: $3.50 (small European), $3.75 (small American)
1306 Beacon St., Brookline (Coolidge Corner)
Other locations in Boston (Park Plaza) and Cambridge (Harvard Square)
Price: $8.95 (Finale Hot Chocolate), $9.95 (Hot Chocolate Flight)
If it’s pure decadence you seek, look no further than Finale, Beantown’s famous dessert cafe. One sip of this delectable drinking chocolate, and you’ll never again settle for a mug of Swiss Miss. Executive pastry chef Nicole Coady blends melted French Valrhona chocolate with heavy cream and steamed milk to concoct a beverage worthy of the gods. Can’t decide between dark, white, or hazelnut? Order the Hot Chocolate Flight, and you can sample all three. Patrons over 21 are sure to enjoy the Finale Hot Chocolate, a delightful concoction of bittersweet chocolate, steamed milk, Baileys Irish Cream, and butterscotch schnapps. The prices are steep, but after the first few sips, you won’t care. For the ultimate indulgence, pair your beverage with a delicious molten chocolate cake or Manjari mousse.
Espresso Royale Caffe
Price: $2.10 (small)
There’s nothing fancy about the hot chocolate at Espresso Royale — they make cocoa from a powder and add milk — but it is quite good. What’s really great about this coffee shop is the atmosphere. The scruffy young characters who staff the joint always have music playing on the stereo, from old-school hip-hop to Irish folk, and they’ll loudly discuss a song’s merits while serving gourmet coffee, bagel sandwiches, and treats like banana-chocolate-chip muffins and vegan carrot cake. They don’t exclude customers from the conversation, either. In fact, one of ERC’s hallmarks is the friendly repartee that along with the good tunes and the crazy art on the walls completely takes the drudgery out of waiting in a long line. When you finally get your cocoa, take it to the packed area of tiny tables by the front window and grab some reading material from the shelf. If you’re lucky enough to get the easy chair in the corner, it’s the sign of a good day to come.
Other locations in the
Price: $2.50 (small)
Chocolaty goodness meets prime people-watching when sipping a hot chocolate at the George Sherman Union. Take in the crowds whizzing by or become totally immersed in Starbucks’ cocoa creation. A distinctly flavored mocha syrup gives this classic hot chocolate a slight twist on the ordinary. Made with steamed milk and topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle, your warm beverage will be sweet without being overly rich or sugary. For a holiday twist, try the peppermint-flavored hot chocolate.
Price: $1.52 small
dairy creamer, Dunkin’ Donuts’ hot chocolate is underrated. The beverage is exceptionally sugary, so it will wake you up as effectively as the establishment’s coffee. If you want chocolate flavor to overrule the sweetness quotient, order the Kahlua hot chocolate. Other flavors are original, French vanilla, and hazelnut. If you live on — or venture into — South Campus, it provides a quick hot chocolate fix, as long as your visit isn’t during morning rush hour. Toppings include whipped cream and sprinkles. It goes without saying that the clientele is either in a big hurry or relaxed and reading the Boston Herald.