A cup of hot chocolate is the taste of childhood for many.
I well remember my mother heating milk in a small saucepan and then adding Nestle cocoa powder from a can. We were not a family with marshmallows or whipped cream. We took our hot chocolate straight.
As delicious as the memory is, the taste of hot chocolate in local cafes and patisseries today will knock your socks off. The chocolate is rich, the milk creamy and the garnish includes marshmallows or whipped cream, sometimes homemade, always delicious.
Talk to any store owner and they will be happy to tell you about the special chocolate they buy to create the best hot chocolate. Some mix their own secret mixture. There are unexpected additions, like vanilla and salt.
Who says hot chocolate has to be hot? Frozen versions are also on the menu. And they are just as satisfying to go down as the hot ones.
Restaurants have the ability to boost the taste with spirits and liqueurs and create very adult hot chocolate for brunch or after-dinner drinks. How very decadent and wonderful is that concept.
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Enjoy these 9 heavenly hot chocolates.
If you’re smart, you can probably use some of the information in this story to make your own spectacular cups at home.
Hot or frozen at Fuel Coffee Bar
Lynn Eglington was dissatisfied with her work performing heart tests, and did not make much money. What she really wanted was to run a café.
She opened the Fuel Coffee Bar in 2014. She could not be happier. Her business survived the pandemic and she is proud of her young staff of 16 and Johnson & Wales University-educated baker Samantha Maggio.
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In addition to making their own bagels, they also specialize in wonderful scones (like oatmeal cookies), monkey bread, cinnamon rolls, gluten-free coffee cake, apple cider donuts, muffins and more.
Fuel has two amazing hot chocolates. Their frozen hot chocolate starts with Ghirardelli sweetened cocoa blend. They mix it with dairy or non-dairy milk, ice cream and Monin dark chocolate syrup.
“The syrup is the texture of hot fudge,” Eglington said.
For the simple perfection, you can add peppermint cold foam and a garnish of crushed peppermint candy on top.
“If you want a protein for a health factor, we can add whey,” she said. “Or for more kick, a shot of espresso.”
They also have a number of other flavors in addition to peppermint if you prefer.
The hot version is made in the same way, but without ice. They skim the milk which can be light cream, sweet or skim milk, soy, coconut, almond or Oatly oat milk.
Details: Fuel Coffee Bar, 904 Boston Neck Rd., Narragansett, (401) 792-3835, fuelcoffeebar.com.
European-style hot chocolate in Madrid, Providence
Madrid European Bakery and Patisserie is not a coffee shop. They make fine cakes here, make no mistake.
Baker Sergio Mendoza grew up in his father’s Spanish bakery, and no details are overlooked in his world.
Their hot chocolate is made from a coke special recipe made with a ganache whipped up from scratch at Wayland Square Patisserie. The Ganache is made from Belgian chocolate that is 60% cocoa.
This makes a decadent hot chocolate that is just sweet enough.
Details: Madrid European Bakery and Patisserie, 199 Wayland Ave., Providence, (401) 409-2300, madrideuropeanbakery.com.
Presto Strange O Campfire hot chocolate
I feel safe to say that there is no other cocoa like Presto Strange O’s in Warwick Neck.
It starts with dark chocolate hot cocoa and steamed milk with vanilla simple syrup added for an extra layer of flavor.
Then they finish their hot chocolate with a pile of mini marshmallows and smoked salt. Then they toast the marshmallows on the cup with a mini kitchen pocket to give it a campfire feel. Think s’mores.
You can get a 12 or 16 ounce hot chocolate.
Details: Presto Strange O Coffee Co., 334 Warwick Neck Ave., Warwick, (401) 524-3975, prestostrangeo.com.
Pastiche starts with imported cocoa
The secret behind Pastiche’s hot chocolate is to use good, high-quality cocoa, says owner Brandt Heckert.
It is Bensdorp Cocoa Powder, which is imported from France. Bensdorp has been making cocoa for 175 years. It is also the choice of King Arthur Flour for baking.
It is a classic unsweetened cocoa powder in European style, Dutch processed to lower the acidity.
“We have all the syrups that many cafes have, so if you want to add hazelnut, for example, you may well,” he said.
The cocoa is mixed with your choice of milk, including low-fat, skim or oats, but he thinks whole milk is the way to go.
Pastiche adds a blob of their real whipped cream, made in-house.
Details: Pastiche Fine Desserts, 92 Spruce St, Providence, (401) 861-5190, pastichefinedesserts.com.
Coffee & Cream adds rum
The hot chocolate at Coffe & Cream in North Smithfield packs a punch. And it has a name: Santa’s Nathue.
It is made with RumChata Peppermint bark with hot chocolate added with a whipped cream topping and a sprinkle of crushed lollipops on top.
Details: Coffee & Cream Breakfast Restaurant, 900 Victory Highway, North Smithfield, (401) 488-4448, coffeeandcreamrestaurant.com
Spirits hot chocolate at Nicks’ on Broadway
Derek Wagner’s team makes a lovely hot chocolate to enjoy with their legendary brunch or after dinner with dessert.
It starts with their special blend of “extra brute” dark cocoa, which is an intense chocolate, and they add spices and sugar to make it up. You can have it that way or more lively.
“We run it with different distinctive spirits,” Wagner said.
They made it with Fratello hazelnut for a while and now they have switched to Mint Hot Chocolate made with a clear liqueur Giffard’s Menthe-Pastille.
All versions are served with freshly whipped cream.
Details: Nicks on Broadway, 500 Broadway, Providence, (401) 421-0286, nicksonbroadway.com
Ellie gets dark
Ellie’s enhances their hot chocolate game by making it with Valrhona Dark Chocolate Caraibe with 66% cocoa. They add house-infused vanilla.
Enjoy it with one of their macarons or cakes.
Details: Ellie’s, 225 Weybosset St., Providence, (401) 563-3333, elliesprov.com.
Nook Coffee House
Nook Coffee House in East Greenwich makes their own chocolate blend that mixes cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon and, surprise, a bit of salt. Now there is a new ingredient.
Details: The Nook Coffee House, 307 Main St., East Greenwich, (401) 402-0029, at nookcoffeehouse.com
Notes Coffee Co. season it with Mexican hot chocolate
In addition to their large selection of holiday lattes, they have two choices of hot chocolate. One is traditional, but the other is Mexican hot chocolate. It is made with Mexican chocolate, a blend of homemade spices and the milk or non-dairy beverage of your choice.
Details: Notes Coffee Co., 508 Armistice Blvd., Pawtucket, (401) 335-5181, notescoffeeco.com