“Would you like whipped cream with that?”
“And a chocolate chip cookie on top?”
It’s not every day you order a Baileys hot chocolate and get the option of having it topped with not just cream and marshmallows (I opted out of the latter) but also a cookie (courtesy of Sugar Spun Sisters at Leeds’ Light Night last year). Hot chocolate is a vice of mine and it is a must during these colder months.
I only started drinking tea and coffee whilst at University, as a practical way of downing caffeine to stay awake and attend 9am seminars or write 3,000 word essays into the night. Of course, I now appreciate those drinks a lot more, however, it meant that whilst growing up, my hot drink of choice was: a hot chocolate. It’s the key component to creating a truly hygge moment. Tea or coffee means business – time to be alert and stay awake. Tea or coffee is the equivalent of a quick shower, if hot chocolate is like having a hot bath.
‘Tea or coffee is the equivalent of a quick shower, if hot chocolate is like having a hot bath’.
I happen to have a lot more hot chocolates than I do baths. In fact, my own hot chocolate that I enjoy at home (in my favourite mug) features a dusting of cinnamon and cocoa and the obligatory Baileys Chocolat Luxe (a Christmas present that then precedes to last the rest of the year in hot chocolates). A topping of whipped cream is always a winner as well. And a flake.
Check out my go-to hot chocolate hotspots:
The Modern Pantry, London
A great breakfast spot in Clerkenwell – definitely try the liquorice hot chocolate, which combines a touch of medicinal sweetness with the bitterness of cocoa.
47-48 St John’s Square, London, EC1V 4JJ
Bonbon Chocolate Boutique, Manchester
This boutique is a treasure trove of everything from handmade chocolate bonbons (made on-site using Valrhona chocolate) to Rococo and Pump Street Bakery treats. With regards to their hot chocolate (made with 66% dark chocolate and dairy free), choose from orange, mocha, cinnamon, chilli, salted caramel or Aztec Spice. I would recommend sitting at a cosy table in the window.
9 John Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 1EQ
Dominique Ansel Bakery, London
Who doesn’t love the theatrical element of the blossoming marshmallow hot chocolate; a homemade marshmallow flower which opens as soon as it’s placed in the rich Valrhona hot chocolate.
17-21 Elizabeth Street, Belgravia, London, SW1W 9RP
North Star Coffee Shop & General Store, Leeds
This is my go-to place for afternoon fika after a walk along the Leeds-Liverpool canal. Serving Kokoa Hot chocolate with the prettiest frothy milk art on top, I always go for the 70% dark chocolate and pair it with a cinnamon bun or a cardamom salted caramel blondie.
Unit 32, The Boulevard, Leeds, LS10 1PZ
If you prefer your drinking chocolate old-school, whereby you are quite literally drinking pure liquid chocolate (heavy and rich, yet so indulgent), then book yourself in for the famous afternoon tea at the Parlour. Take note of the David Shrigley designed crockery.
9 Conduit Street, London, W1S 2XG
Bea’s of Bloomsbury, London
Hailed as one of the best hot chocolates I’ve ever had, it’s the perfect balance between smooth, silky and rich, yet also light, frothy and milky. It ticks all the boxes and you can, of course, pair it with a cupcake.
43 Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6BY
Arctic Bazaar Pop-up at Christmas, Leeds
This pop-up Nordic inspired café and market place, in the basement of Leeds’ Art Hostel, served up white, milk and dark hot chocolate during the festive season. The milk chocolate with orange peel, cardamom and cinnamon was aromatic and the white chocolate had an essence of toasted pine nuts. Served in camping mugs and you could pop up stairs and enjoy them around a fire.
Arctic Bazaar Christmas Pop-up at Art Hostel, 83 Kirkgate, Leeds, LS2 7DJ
26 Grains, London
A warm and comforting health-kick, post-Christmas, their unconventional turmeric and cinnamon hot chocolate has a subtle spiciness to it. The café is also a moment of tranquility to escape to, in the midst of the busy West End.
1 Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden, Seven Dials, London, WC2H 9DP