I absolutely LOVE a good hot chocolate. When the temperature outside drops, the first comforting thought in my head is that I have a good excuse for a hot chocolate. I just love getting out of the cold and into the warmth of a cafe or restaurant…the anticipation as I rub my hands together to get some feeling back in them, the rich chocolatey aroma as it arrives in front of me, and then drinking in the silky, luxurious, liquid gold which seems to hug me from the inside.
Seeing as its been pretty chilly over the last couple of months, I’ve been drinking my way around London, which is thankfully jam-packed with places serving up this glorious beverage. I nearly didn’t post this as I began to think that March was a bit too late to be posting about a drink for freezing cold days. However, its still bloody cold out there so here you go…everything from the wonderfully over the top stacked hot chocolates at Brick Lane’s Cereal Killer Cafe to the luxurious and velvety goodness at Covent Garden’s Ladurée, these are a few of my favourites…
Rabot 1745 is a unique restaurant owned by Hotel Chocolat with a bar, cafe and terrace overlooking the ever-bustling and vibrant Borough Market. It is named after their 250 year old Rabot Estate cocoa plantation in Saint Lucia and specialises in ‘cocoa cuisine’, so this was clearly my first stop in my search for the perfect hot chocolate.
I went for the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate and it was divine. It was thinner in consistency than other chocolates I’ve had but I quite like that. I also love that their hot chocolates are made with real chocolate as opposed to cocoa powder, plus their hazelnut hot Chocolate is made from finely pulverised nuts , not essence or liqueur.
Rabot 1745, 2-4 Bedale Street, Borough Market, SE1 9AL
PAUL A YOUNG
Soho, Islington & Bank
Paul A Young is the place to go if you’re a chocolate purist, or rather a ‘grown up’. The hot chocolate here is made with pure chocolate and water rather than milk, bringing out the flavours and richness of the chocolate. They melt 100% Valrhona cocoa powder and 70% chocolate into water with a little light muscovado sugar to create a truly indulgent drinking experience. Too add extra depth to your drink, each Paul A Young store has a selection of spices so you can customise your hot chocolates such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and chilli.
Paul A Young SOHO: 143 Wardour Street, London, W1F 8WA | ISLINGTON: 33 Camden Passage, London, N1 8EA | BANK: 20 The Royal Exchange, Threadneedle Street, London EC3V 3LP
CEREAL KILLER CAFE
The UK’s first speciality cereal cafe is also home to some of London’s most indulgent and wonderfully over the top hot chocolates. The queues here can be long and slow but bear with it, these hot chocolates are totally worth the wait.
Chose from regular, Peanut Butter (above left), Salted Caramel (above right) or Nutella. I initially thought it would be too sickly to finish but I surprised myself but how quickly I polished by peanut butter hot chocolate off. It comes piled high with whipped cream, peanut butter chips, cereal chunks and chocolate sauce. And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a Reese’s peanut butter cup on the side! As you can see from the photo on the right, they have managed to wedge a slice of millionaire shortbread in there! Needless to say, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this since!
Cereal Killer Cafe, 139 Brick Lane, London E1 6SB
JAZ & JULS
I first tasted Jaz & Juls hot chocolate when they had a stall at the Southbank Center Winter Festival where the queue paid testament to how popular these hot chocolates are! As it was Christmas time, I tried the Gingerbread hot chocolate which basically tasted of Christmas, it was heavenly. Such is their popularity, the duo opened their first permanent Chocolate House in Islington’s Chapel Market in November, showcasing their impressive collection of indulgent proper hot chocolates, which are all made by hand on site using ethically-sourced organic dark chocolate.
Their flavours include Orangeytang (mulled chocolate orange with cardamom and clove), Chilli con Choccy (chilli with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove), Masala Mojo (a complex blend of 9 spices for a chai-like drink), Caralimelicious (caramel hot chocolate with a tangy lime twist) and Quite White (white hot chocolate with a hint of peppercorns to balance out the sweetness) amongst others.
Jaz & Juls, 1 Chapel Market, London, N1 9EZ
SAID DAL 1923
If you would rather ‘eat’ your hot chocolate with a spoon, head to Said Dal 1923, a chocolate lover’s dream shop and café. As you walk in you are greeted by huge glass jars filled with chocolates, beautiful shiny metal chocolate moulds adorning the wall and hot chocolate bubbling behind the counter. You can choose from milk, dark and gianduja (hazelnut praline) varieties and this is serious tasting hot chocolate. Its rich, thick and decadent and the perfect place to stop off for a pick me up when you need a break from the cold.
Said Dal 1923, 1923, 41 Broadwick Street, W1F 9QL
Head down Redchurch Street in Shoreditch and you can smell Mast Brothers before you see it. It is the most unbelievably intoxicating aroma which almost pulls you into Mast Brothers like a magnet. Don’t fight it, just go with it. Once inside you will want to lick the air. This is serious chocolate. With the aroma filling your nose, the beautiful packaging of their chocolate bars feasting your eyes and tasters of chocolate dotted around the shop, this is a completely sensory experience. The last few times I’ve been in Shoreditch I’ve not had the willpower to stop myself heading in for a hot chocolate and one of their incredible chocolate chip cookies. (Incidentally, you can find the recipe to their cookies here).
Mast Brothers, 19 – 29 Redchurch Street, London, E2 7DJ.
Covent Garden, Carnaby, Shoreditch & Kings Cross
I am a huge fan of Dishoom and feel extremely lucky that I have a branch about 30 seconds walk from my office. Well, I say that…but its not great for my waistline or my bank balance! However, it makes me happy and that’s enough of an excuse to be in there all the time. I tend to end most of my meals with their Baileys Chai, a hot spicy chai topped with about an inch of cool cream and with a good glug of Baileys. Heaven! However, when its cold outside, I tend to pop in just to get a chocolate hit with their Chocolate Chai, a perfect blend of dark chocolate and spicy chai. Or their Naughty Chocolate Chai which has a hit of Bourbon in it.
Dishoom CARNABY: 22 Kingly St, London W1B 5QB | COVENT GARDEN: 12 Upper St Martin’s Ln, London WC2H 9FB | SHOREDITCH: 7 Boundary St, London E2 7JE | KINGS CROSS: 5 Stable St, London N1C 4AB
Rococo’s flagship Belgravia branch offers both intense chocolate shots and more indulgent milky versions of their hot chocolate. The base is the same 75% drinking chocolate blend you can buy to take home (and which contains Rococo’s own organic Grenada chocolate), and you get delicious raspberry marshmallows when you order. Or at least I did when I was there recently.
As well as the classic hot chocolate, you can add sea salt or spice. I went for the sea salt hot chocolate which was perfection. The salt cuts through the sweetness yet you still get the luxurious richness of the chocolate.
Rococo Belgravia, 5 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8JU
FORTNUM & MASON
The beautiful Fortnum & Mason is a treat in itself. Add their hot chocolate into the mix and you’re in for a real treat . Head to the Parlour on the first floor for a decandent hot chocolate. You can choose from dark, milk or white chocolate and you can add Gourmet Mint & Chocolate Chip Marshmallow, Macaroom or Chocolossus Biscuit. I went for the latter, along with a milk chocolate drink. This was so very rich, it was like being injected with chocolate! It was just what I needed the day I went. I was feeling a little poorly, I was freezing cold and desperate for a little R&R which is exactly what I got.
The Parlour, Fortnum & Mason, 1st floor, 181 Piccadilly, London, SW1A 1ER.
If you’re anywhere near Covent Garden, its always worth popping into Ladurée, the beautiful French cafe in the Market Building. Many people go for their signature macarons but I’m the aberration that doesn’t ‘get’ macarons. I’ve tried many different types, thinking I was just trying bad ones but no, I haven’t liked any. I do, however, love Ladurée’s thick and velvety hot chocolate, as well as their decadent cakes. Sitting on the balcony under heaters and wrapped in their blankets, you can soak up the atmosphere of Covent Garden and feed your chocolate soul. What could be better?
Ladurée, 1 The Market Building, London WC2E 8RA
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Of course, if you’d rather not go out for a hot chocolate, and would prefer to make your own, here is Ina Garten’s recipe for the most beautifully indulgent White Hot Chocolate.