Hot chocolate is a universal language, but what’s not universal is how it’s made. The variations of ingredients and proportions are endless, and even the name can be tricky to nail down. Terms like ‘hot cocoa’ and ‘hot chocolate’ are sometimes used interchangeably – but there is a distinction. The MasterClass food team breaks it down like this: “Hot cocoa is a hot, sweet drink made from cocoa powder, sugar and milk…Hot chocolate, or drinking chocolate, is a thick, hot drink made by melting solid chocolate (such as chocolate chips or bars) in hot water or milk.” From there, additional ingredients can be introduced, such as heavy cream in Parisian Chocolat Chaud and cheese (yes, cheese!) in Colombian Chocolate Santafereño.
1. Chin Chin Ice Cream – London, United Kingdom
Chin Chin (meaning ‘cheers’) Ice Cream opened shop in Camden, London in 2010. In the last 13 years, they’ve convinced British ice cream lovers that “hand-churning with liquid nitrogen [is] better than any other method” to make ice cream. It’s no surprise that The Times hails Chin Chin as “the best ice cream parlour in England.” But what is a surprise is that it’s actually their OTT hot chocolate – not their ice cream sundaes – that have become viral on social media. Chin Chin’s signature hot chocolate is made in small batches out of Valrhona 80 percent chocolate. It’s then topped with a dollop of homemade marshmallow fluff, then blowtorched for a caramelized campfire touch. Can’t make it across the pond? You can buy their homemade marshmallow fluff and hot chocolate starter online. Blowtorch not included.
2. SAID – Rome, Italy
Expect sticky fingers when you order a decadent hot chocolate at SAID Coffe Shop Bistrò Restaurant in Rome. Three flavours of hot chocolate: milk- dark- and white chocolate. are poured in a mug until overflowing.
3. Honolulu Coffee – Vancouver, British Columbia
Honolulu Coffee has turned hot chocolate into an art form. The British Columbia-based café unveiled their “Raincouver” hot chocolate to great fanfare at the Greater Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival this year. The “Raincouver” is made from 70% dark chocolate and pink Himalayan salt and the cotton candy “cloud” suspended over the mug melts in the steam. There’s also “The Donut” hot chocolate, which is designed to look like its namesake and is served with a fudge-and-raspberry treat on the side.
4. Restaurante Catedral – Oaxaca City, Mexico
The foodie paradise of Oaxaca is also known for its glorious Mexican chocolate. To try the best chocolates en leche in Oaxaca (and possibly Mexico) make sure to go to Restaurante Catedral to order a drinking chocolate unlike any other.
5. The Sebastian – Vail, Colorado
The indulgent Signature Hot Chocolate at the Sebastian restort in Vail is so impressive that it made it into a Hallmark movie Winter in Vail. It starts with a gold-dusted sphere of Valrhona milk chocolate filled with Baileys handcrafted marshmallows and chocolate crunch pearls. Next, spiced hot cocoa is poured over the gold-dusted sphere. As the ball of chocolate melts, marshmallows rise to the surface.
6. Chocc – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Chocc sources chocolate from around the world and creates customizable drinks with flavours like cardamom, chilli, smoked paprika and nutmeg. Their “Savoury Orange” drink uses Belgian 55% dark chocolate, orange zest and a dried orange slice sprinkled with Maldon sea salt.
7. Belú Cacao – Santa Tecla, El Salvador
Belú is the only woman-owned-and-run chocolate maker in El Salvador, making “bean to bar” small-batch chocolate with a range of Salvadoran beans. The hot chocolate – made with cacao, cacao butter, brown cane sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and coriander seeds – can also be ordered online in dry mix form.
8. Angelina Paris – Paris, France
Located on the picturesque Rue Rivoli and across from the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris’ Angelina tearoom is a must-visit for any hot chocolate lover. Make sure to order their Chocolat Chaud a L’Ancienne for two – you’ll even get two tiny perfect servings of whipped cream served on the side.
9. Chocolatería San Ginés – Madrid, Spain
Founded in 1894 and open until late, Chocolatería San Ginés specializes in hot chocolate served with a side of fresh churros. The restaurant has a long-running special that awards churros and chocolate to whoever posts the best photo on Instagram of the – no surprise – decadent churro and chocolate duo.
10. Kakawa Chocolate House
Drinking hot chocolate was traditionally enjoyed by Mesoamerican, Mayan and Aztec cultures before settlers brought it back to Europe. Kakawa means ‘cacao’ in the Olmec language, and the chocolatiers at Kakawa Chocolate House in Santa Fe prepare their product using recreations of traditional Mesoamerican recipes.