Hot chocolate — it’s on most restaurant and café menus — but not all hot chocolates are created equal. The Daily Meal set out to find the best, real hot chocolate: thick, rich, creamy, and smooth yet mesmerizing, melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
In our quest to find the best hot chocolate in New York City, we had our fair share of lackluster concoctions, from powdery pre-mixed hot chocolates and cocoas, to sickly sweet syrupy hot chocolates, to watery hot cocoa passed off as hot chocolate (and yes there is a difference; hot cocoa is traditionally made with cocoa powder and hot water, hot chocolate is made with chocolate shavings, pieces or chunks of chocolate, milk or cream, and sugar). Our list evaluated hot chocolates and hot cocoas in the city; even a few ‘frozen’ hot chocolates made the list.
While the Aztecs may be credited with the hot chocolate (Montezuma's court is reputed to have drunk 2,000 cups a day), it seems nearly every country and celebrity chef has put his or her own spin on the classic comfort drink.
Chocolate is still a huge moneymaker worldwide. Chocolatiers produced $13.5 billion in chocolate and cocoa products in the U.S. in 2011 alone, according to the U.S. Census.
The criteria for choosing the best hot chocolate in the city is based on ingredients and preparation, taste, presentation, and overall experience. Our New York City Travel Editor and a group of food bloggers and writers and chocolate lovers sampled dozens of hot chocolates and hot cocoas — from corner cafes to chain restaurants to five star restaurants. The result — 10 fine examples of how hot chocolate is meant to be: intense, rich, and blissful.
The debate over the ‘best’ hot chocolate is sure to be heated. We’re happy to hear your suggestions, too. Share them in the comments section or pin pictures to The Daily Meal’s Pinterest board.
Lauren Mack is the New York City Travel Editor. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.