10 Best Gourmet Hot Chocolates To Get You Through The Winter
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 Sticks
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
Chocolat Moderne 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 Powder
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. (Update: May no longer be available?)
Best Gourmet Hot Chocolate Number 5: Vosages Couture Cocoa Sampler
The Vosages Couture Sampler is a great way for you to try all three of the Vosages cocoas:
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. (Update: This sampler is no longer available. Try Chuao instead?)
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.
Best Gourmet Hot Chocolate Number 7: Bellagio Gourmet Sipping Chocolate
From Italy 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. (Update: The Sipping Chocolate no longer seems to be available, but there are other flavors of Bellagio that are worth trying here.)
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!