During the rough winter months, one thing to look forward to, besides a hot bowl of soup, is a cup of hot chocolate. And I’m not talking about a watered-down package of instant hot chocolate. I’m talking about hot chocolate that’s been brewed in a black kettle pot. During one of the coldest months, February, there’s a Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery in the Flatiron District. Each of the 28 days there’s a different flavor, like: Caramel Hot Chocolate, Banana Peel Hot Chocolate and Rum Raisin Hot Chocolate. It’s best to try to grab a cup of “magic” during the week or you’ll be waiting on a long line if you wait for the weekend at City Bakery. But when the party, er..ah, festival is over, this in New York City, and there’s no shortage of options for hot chocolate.
The famous Jacques Torres offers a variety of hot chocolate flavors, too. I tried the “wicked hot chocolate,” but I was surprised. I thought it would be a lot richer than it actually was, not to mention, it was far from “wicked.” It was more like the prequel to the Wizard of Oz; you know, before the witches truly became “Wicked.” Maybe my tolerance for spicy has grown too high.
One of my favorite pastry chefs, LaNewYorkina, serves up a very traditional Mexican hot chocolate, with an abundance of cinnamon. I’m always excited to see one of her tables at the local food markets in the city. Speaking of Spanish, I was in the Bronx last week and stopped by a Dominican bakery where I had some creamy hot chocolate. And you know you’ve got homemade hot chocolate when a thick layer of cream forms on the top of your cup. Now for a spin on the hot chocolate, how about some ice cream? The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop serves up a spicy hot chocolate with vanilla ice cream, whip cream and cayenne pepper, on top.
Over the years, some of the richest hot chocolate I’ve had was at the Dessert Truck, which closed a few months ago (I hate when that happens). It was like drinking a bar of melted chocolate…literally. At first it seems overindulgent, it’s more rich than creamy, and you can’t imagine drinking more of it without a glass of milk. After a minute or so you want to go in for another sip. Before you know it, you’re at the bottom of the cup, and you actually want more! By the way, nothing accents a cup of hot chocolate like a large marshmallow on top!