Hard to remember as we sip iced coffee during this bizarrely balmy winter, but the season’s traditional, primary beverage is supposed to be hot chocolate. Thankfully, Valrhona has remained utterly undeterred by the lack of wind and snow — launching a full-out Hot Chocolate Festival, from January 23rd-31st. The famous French chocolate manufacturer has challenged top cafes and pastry shops throughout the city to experiment with their products, whipping up innovative drinks made with uber-dark Guanaja, salted butter Caramelia, velvety blond Dulcey and more. And the best part is, 50 cents of each purchase goes directly to City Harvest — so here’s where to mainline hot chocolate for a good cause in the coming weeks.
Baked: Being that both neighborhoods are especially close to the water, counter the nippy winds in either Red Hook or Tribeca by making a pit stop at Baked, for their Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate topped with creamy caramel marshmallows.
279 Church St., (212) 775-0345
Doughnut Plant: Forget about doughnuts and coffee; for a truly indulgent treat, pair the Doughnut Plant‘s deep-fried Tres Leches cake with a Tres Leches White Hot Chocolate, both made with evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream.
220 W 23rd St., (929) 367-3818
Almondine: This DUMBO bakery isn’t playing around with middle-of-the-road milk chocolate. Instead, they’re serving a steamy drink made with molten squares of Guanaja; Valrhona’s most bitter (70%!) dark chocolate.
85 Water St., (718) 797-5026
Sugar and Plumm: The decidedly adult “Jivara Viennois” at dessert fantasia, Sugar and Plumm, includes milk chocolate, whole milk, caramel, vanilla and cinnamon, topped with chocolate-infused whipped cream, and spiked with a shot of whiskey.
377 Amsterdam Ave., (212) 787-8778
Fika: Even though all of its locations are in Manhattan, this stylish chain of coffee bars is entirely inspired by Sweden; giving rise to its spicy hot chocolate creation, based on the lingonberry and vodka cocktail known as Vargtass; topped with both a lingonberry marshmallow and a lingon chili caramel bon bon.
41 W 58th St., (212) 832-0022
Brooklyn Roasting Company: Located blocks away from Valrhona’s very own Brooklyn-based L’Ecole, this DUMBO roaster is pairing their Iris espresso blend with Valrhona’s milk and dark chocolates, to make a caffeinated “Mocha Lava” — accented with pure maple syrup and silky half and half.
25 Jay St., (718) 855-1000
MarieBelle: The cocoa creations at MarieBelle are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate; and the same can certainly be said of their festival contributions, Caramelized White Hot Chocolate crowned with lacy hazelnut praline.
484 Broome St., (212) 925-6999
Francois Payard Patisserie: Unsurprisingly, the Hot Chocolate special at Francois Payard’s Upper East Side pastry shop is especially elegant; flavored with rich, ripe raspberry and fragrant orange blossom.
1293 3rd Ave., (212) 717-5252