If you’re anything like us, a warm, comforting cup of cocoa brings out your inner adolescent. It gets us thinking of childhood memories, bedtime stories, and all-round homely coziness. But, the traditional cup of hot chocolate has been evolving in recent years; and we have news for you: it’s not just for the kids anymore!
So, as February is Hot Chocolate Month – and with #YYCHotChocolateFest well underway – we’re sharing some of our favourite ‘grown-up’ ways to enjoy the delights of the traditional hot cocoa treat.
Hot Chocolate: The Gourmet Edition
There was once a time whereby the joy of hot cocoa came down to mixing some warm milk or boiling water with a dried chocolate mix. Well, that’s no longer the case: enter the single-origin hot chocolate. The chocolate-lovers’ equivalent of a vintage wine, the gourmet hot chocolate is appearing more and more on the menus of coffee shops as a luxury option for those seeking something other than espresso and tea. So what exactly is it? Single-origin hot chocolate essentially refers to a hot beverage made on-site directly from cocoa beans or pure chocolate – with no added sugars, flavours or emulsifiers. Pure heaven.
Hot Chocolate Disguised as Your Daily Cup of Joe!
Chocolate and coffee are becoming good friends of late; seen in trends such as ‘brewed chocolate’, which involves sweetening the syrup made from brewing whole, raw cacao beans (called Cabaret) with organic, evaporated cane juice. Another pairing of chocolate and coffee, is in “Choffy”, ground roasted cacao beans that can be brewed in your standard French Press, drip filter or espresso machine at home.
Hot Cocoa On Demand!
If hot chocolate is your winter-warmer drink of choice, you may want to invest in a Hot Chocolate Dispenser for your kitchen countertop! Just like your home espresso machine, these handy little gadgets (some of which come in a sophisticated stainless steel design) allow you to indulge in an on-demand, luxury cocoa experience. You’ll be able to pre-set your preferred hot cocoa temperature and milk density, to instantly heat, whip and blend a delicious, easily-pourable hot chocolate delight.
The Caffe Mocha on Ice
Hot summer days call for refreshments that hit the spot. With an Iced Mocha, chocolate devotees can enjoy their favourite sip of cocoa during the warm months too. Available in most coffee shops, the Iced Mocha delivers a rich chocolatey taste to your summer coffee drink; hot espresso is poured over ice, chilled milk and a luscious chocolate sauce base, then stirred and topped with whipped cream for an extra-indulgent treat.
For Chai drinkers, this hot cocoa combination is a must to try. The magic happens when hot milk, two whole cloves, a crushed cardamom pod, fresh ginger and a sprinkle of vanilla bean paste is mixed with cocoa powder (be sure to strain out the spices) and honey – and enjoy.
Combining Two of Life’s Luxuries: Red Wine Hot Chocolate
Red wine and chocolate have been two of life’s indulgencies that have long been enjoyed together, but have you ever tasted them in the same cup? This is a real treat. It’s rich and velvety, so you’ll only need a little cup to get your Mmmm-kick. Simply heat some milk and chocolate chips in a saucepan over medium heat, being sure to continuously whisk. Once the chocolate is melted and there is a thick, creamy consistency to the mixture, gently add one cup of red wine and heat. Pour and finish off with coconut whipped cream.
Shaken Not Stirred: The Chocolate Martini
Keeping with chocolate and alcohol pairings, may we please introduce you to the divine ‘Chocolate Martini’?! To make, start with your favourite hot chocolate mix and in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice, add dark crème de cacao, Bailey’s Irish crème and vanilla vodka. Give it a good shake before pouring over a strainer, into a chilled martini glass. To finish, add some mini marshmallows.
Hot Cocoa Bars for Special Occasions
Now, what’s a special occasion without a little chocolate? The hot cocoa bar (or station) is appearing on the wish-lists of many modern brides, to add some fun and deliciousness to the wedding reception. Perfect for winter weddings held here in Calgary and the neighbouring Canadian Rockies, the hot cocoa bar welcomes guests for a cozy, post-vow warm-up – and the topping choices are endless! Get creative, but our favourites are toasted coconut flakes, caramel sauce, crushed Oreos, mini marshmallows, and white chocolate chips.
Speaking of delicious chocolate varieties, have you tried our luxurious, limited-edition hot chocolate yet? Available at the Sandstone Lounge until February 28 and created especially for this year’s #YYCHotChocolateFest, it’s served in an Oreo crumble rimmed glass, with ¾ nip Kahlua, ¾ nip Frangelico, white hot chocolate mix, and then topped with house made chocolate ganache whipped cream and Oreo crumble sprinkles. Oreo-licious!