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New York's Finest Hot Chocolates

city.gifWith the chilly winter moving in, it’s officially hot chocolate season again–and New York never disappoints.  Some local restaurants and shops are taking things to a whole new level this year with everything from hot giandiuja chocolate at Otto to salted caramel hot chocolate at Scratchbread or even rum-spiked cocoa at L.A. Burdick. From your standard classic cocoa to the more exotic renditions involving spices, liqueur, and homemade marshmallows or fluff, there are some notable hot spots to check out this year to warm up.

233 Bleecker St., at Carmine St.

Sure, they’re known for their gelatos, but that doesn’t mean they’re not serious about their hot chocolate.  Oh, they are.   Grom’s hot chocolate, made with no milk or water is one of our absolute favorites. A melted mixture of pure Bolivian and Venezuelan chocolate adds to the richness of this semi-sweet drink – perfect for dark chocolate fanatics.  We highly recommend you spend the extra 50 cents on their homemade, super thick whipped cream.

Aroma Espresso Bar
205 E. 42nd St., btwn/ 2nd & 3rd Aves

This Israeli espresso bar brews their own brand of Aroma chocolate with a cup of steamed milk, but they don’t stop there.  They pour the warm mixture over chocolate pralines for a nuttier, thicker blend.  Then, Aroma caps it off with foam and a sprinkling of cacao.

hot chocolate.jpgOtto Enoteca Pizzeria
1 5th Ave., btwn. Washington Mews & 8th St

Hot chocolate is probably the last thing on most people’s minds at Otto. There’s pizza and wine and small plates, but hot chocolate? Yep.  Otto
offers exceptional olive oil gelato in the summer and a killer cup of hot chocolate when the weather turns chilly.  Except here it’s called gianduja calda, made with a specialty Italian chocolate with hazelnut paste whipped up from scratch by pastry chef Meredith Kurtzman.  She finishes the cup with an enthereal cinnamon cream.

L.A. Burdick
5 East 20th Street btwn 5th Ave & Broadway

If you haven’t heard of L.A. Burdick, you’ll want to pay close attention.  This Flatiron shop sources all of their chocolate from Venezuela, Switzerland and France and flavors with actual ingredients and nothing else.  That means when something tastes like coffee they brewed it fresh. When something tastes like fruit, they cooked it up just for the occasion. You can expect the same dedication from their hot chocolate, which is made from actual chocolate flakes mixed with milk, and finished with cocoa-dusted whipped cream.  If you’re not a fan of milk chocolate, there’s white and dark hot chocolate, too. Did we mention it can be spiked with alcohol, like cherry-flavored Kirsch, a pear-flavored Poire Williams, scotch, or Ron Zacapa rum? Hot chocolate and a nice long nap. It doesn’t get much better.

484 Broome Street btwn Wooster St & Broadway

chocolatiers have branded themselves on hot chocolate like MarieBelle. Their legendary Aztec hot chocolate comes in 4 flavors–Aztec Original, Aztec Dark, Aztec Mocha, and Aztec Spicy.  No cocoa powder here–just rich Columbian chocolate that can be brewed European style (with water) or American style (with milk) for a sweeter, creamier cup. They’ve added some new flavors, like milk chocolate banana chip and white chocolate with cinnamon and oats are also available.

Bar Jámon
125 East 17th St., btwn 3rd Ave & Irving Place

Spain embraces big flavors.  Their wines are just as bold as the tapas. In fact, Bar Jamon  shares a standout wine list with its sister restaurant, Casa Mono, just next door.   Expect the same from their spicy hot chocolate, so rich and thick that it will remind you of hot fudge.  The best is that its served with cinnamon-dusted churros delectable, an edible spoon for this hot chocolate endeavor.

hotchocolatescitybakery.jpgShake Shack
Madison Square Park

Executive chef Michael Romano is the mastermind behind this traditional and affordable, nine-ounce cup of heaven.  The recipe combines chocolate with whole milk, heavy cream and a homemade marshmallow cube that melts away into a thick chocolate oblivion.  If you really want to do it right, top it off with homemade marshmallow fluff and you’ll never see hot chocolate the same again.

City Bakery
3 West 18th St., btwn. 5th Ave & 6th Aves.

only does City Bakery make one of the best hot chocolates in the city, but they also devote an entire month to this warm beverage category. The month of February, aka The City Bakery Annual Hot Chocolate Festival, boasts a different flavor daily, including chili pepper, bourbon, stout and banana peel. It’s available by the cup or shot and comes with a homemade marshmallow to seal the deal.

Chocolate Bar
19 8th Avenue btwn Jane & West 12th

With a name like this, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a good cup of hot chocolate.  But we had no idea how deliciously complex it could taste. This cozy spot in the West Village enhances their first-rate chocolate with a delicious spectrum of spices, including chipotle, ancho chile, cinnamon, ginger, and clove, making for a spicy, rich brew.

Vosges Haute Chocolat
132 Spring St., at Greene St.

Like fine dining, there are fine chocolates, and Vosges ranks high on the haute chocolate list. And more importantly, their flavors are marvelously unique and often exotic, and their hot chocolate follows suit. You can choose from dark chocolate with Tahitian vanilla, chocolate chipotle, a blend of ancho chiles and cinnamon cornmeal, or Mexican vanilla, a delicate ‘white’ hot chocolate with a hint of lavender. If you hate commitment as much as we do, you’ll want to buy the individual packets to sample at home when you don’t feel like braving the cold.

1069 Bedford Ave., btwn. Clifton Pl & Greene Aves.

Scratchbread has earned itself a reputation for its flatbreads and sourdough, not its hot chocolate.  This delicious discovery was a happy accident.  Instead of plain old hot chocolate, they’ve come up with chocolate and salted caramel, an ingenious pairing.  While some hot chocolates can be a little too sweet, the salt cuts the richness of the chocolate for a beautifully balanced cup.

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