Old, or should I say very old, Punxsutawney Phil came out of his hole
today and declared, on this 168th U.S. observance of Groundhog Day, that there
will be (at least) six more weeks of Winter. To all Winter sports enthusiasts, this
is great news. You and the rest of us can drink to it with a cup of sinfully
good gourmet hot chocolate, because we will all need somethingy yummy and hot to
stay warm. Here are 10 of the best gourmet cocoas for drinking... and the bonus
feature is my favorite hot cocoa recipe!
(The gourmet chocolates are not ranked, simply numbered for convenience.)
Best Gourmet Hot Chocolate Number 1: Eclat Cocoa
Well, there is a reason I mention the Éclat Cocoa Sticks first... It's the elegant
delivery! The Cocoa Stick is a marvelous idea if you're on the run and can't
brew your own hot cocoa. Just order a cup of steaming hot milk, stir in the
Cocoa Stick, and WoW! You will be impressed. Éclat Cocoa Sticks
come in seven mouth-watering flavors! Watch out!
Best Gourmet Hot Chocolate Number 2: Chocolat Moderne Cocoa Casbah
Another WoW goes to the array of dark drinking chocolates, the Cocoa Casba,
which come in four out-of-this-world flavors with names that evoke the very
sensual experience of drinking fine chocolate.
Snake Charmer: An aromatic breeze of floral anise, star anise,
vanilla and cinnamon
Madame "X"tasy: Espresso, burnt caramel and fleur de sel
Kama Sutra, Coconut, cardamom, and clove
Midnight Oasis: Coconut,
cardamom, and clove
cocoas may be sipped hot or cold and contain no dairy, so you get to concoct
your own recipes or you can follow those that the company provides with your
cocoa. Available here at Amazon.com.
Best Gourmet Hot Chocolate Number 3: MarieBelle Aztec Hot Chocolate
Chocolate was introduced to the Americas
by native South American Indians; first the Olmec tribes, then the Mayans, and
then the Aztec Indians. Since identifying cocoa beans as a source of pleasure,
they have been cherished and used as gifts. MarieBelle's
Aztec Hot Chocolate is made with single-origin Colombian cocoa and comes in
four flavors: Aztec Original, Aztec, Dark, Mocha, and Spicy all at Amazon.com.
Best Gourmet Hot Chocolate Number 4: L'Epicerie Cocoa
As pure as cocoa can be, the world-renowned L'Epicerie brings you 100
percent cocoa powder in one pound or 6.6 pound amounts. This pure cocoa is a
Dutch process Valrhona chocolate made from the best cocoa beans that Valrhona can select. It is
prized among professional pastry chefs and gourmet chocolatiers. At L'Epicerie.
Best Gourmet Hot Chocolate Number 5: Vosages Couture Cocoa
Couture Sampler is a great way for you to try all three of the Vosages
Bianca: Australian lemon myrtle + lavender
flowers + vanilla + white chocolate;
Aztec Elixir: Mexican ancho & chipotle chillies + Ceylon
cinnamon + Madagascar
vanilla bean + cornmeal dark chocolate; and
La Parisienne: Madagascar
vanilla bean + dark chocolate
There are 2 to 3 servings of each cocoa in this sampler.
Best Gourmet Hot Chocolate Number 6: Chuao 3-Tin Hot Chocolate Gift Pack
Recently added to
the Chuao Venezuelan hot cocoas, is the rich Winter Hot Chocolate, which has a
distinct taste of winter spices: ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and pepper.
And it is quite good. In fact, now all three of Chuao's cocoas ( Winter, plus
Abuela and Spicy Maya) are excellent and distinct from one another. The Chuao
"Gift Pack" presentation doesn't cost any more than purchasing
each tin separately ($15 each for 12 oz. each), and no one need know that
you're keeping it for yourself!
Best Gourmet Hot Chocolate Number 7: Bellagio Gourmet Sipping Chocolate
comes a very rich Bellagio Gourmet Sipping Chocolate with a distinct touch of
vanilla. Bellagio does add sugar to its recipe, and at least for me, the amount
is sufficient. You can use your own recipes for hot cocoa or other chocolate
goodies using the Gourmet Sipping Chocolate but be advised about the sugar. Amazon.com
has a very good price on the 9 ounce tin or you can get the Sipping Chocolate
in handy pre-measured
packets of 25 servings.
Best Gourmet Hot Chocolate Number 8: Lake Champlain Hot Chocolate Sampler
A very fine chocolatier, Lake
Champlain's Hot Chocolate Sampler is so plentiful that it might just hold
you for the rest of the winter. Chocolate, Mocha, and Aztec canisters will make
21 8-ounce servings each. Experiment with Lake Champlain’s
Hot Chocolate in your favorite cocoa or chocolate cake recipes.
Best Gourmet Hot Chocolate Number 9: Godiva Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa Canister
If you like a semi-sweet chocolate flavor, you will love Godiva Dark Hot
Cocoa; it tastes more like a rich milk chocolate than some of the other sipping
chocolates I've included in the 10 Best. You can find this 5-star rated Godiva
Hot Cocoa at Amazon.com.
Best Gourmet Hot Chocolate Number 10: Holy Chocolate Drinking Chocolate
Another great cocoa for folks who just want a quick cup of hot cocoa. The
single-servings are just the right amount to add to a cup of hot water. Holy
Chocolate focuses only on drinking chocolate and they've made every flavor a
work of divine taste from Amaretto to Swiss with American, Amsterdam,
European, and Mint in between. Each flavor is sold in packets or in a tin, and
each cocoa has a full page description on the Holy Chocolate website.
Now, for the hot cocoa recipe I promised.... I use this recipe to make cocoa
when I'm starting with pure powdered cocoa, even when the cocoa is flavored or
sweetened, but not when the cocoa has been processed with milk.
This makes one cup (about 6 ounces) of cocoa. I would love to quote a source
other than my Aunt Celia... but it came from her kitchen!
3 heaping tablespoons dark gourmet cocoa
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons sugar, honey, or 1/4 teaspoon of agave (if cocoa is pre-sweetened, add, to taste, before serviing)
dash of cayenne pepper
Whip cream until thick but not stiff. Heat water and stir in cocoa, sugar,
and cayenne. Whisk ingredients over low heat until chocolate is completely
dissolved. Slowly fold all but a teaspoon of the cream into the cocoa mix until
hot. Pour cocoa into cup; stir slowly with cinnamon stick and ad the teaspoon
of cream for a topping.
Here's to six more weeks of hot cocoa!