Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published January 23rd 2011
A perfect hot chocolate is a very subjective thing. More so even that that other contentious hot beverage, coffee. Do you remember fondly the milkiness of the cocoa at bedtime, do you like it thick and rich in the best South American tradition, or are you an ardent subscriber to the French style of hot chocolate, which manages to be thick yet still creamy? Whatever your own taste buds crave there are a solid, and growing, number of hot chocolate specialists in the capital, and one of them is sure to offer your own brand of liquid pleasure.
Hot Chocolate from Theobroma Cacao
William Curleys 198 Ebury Street, Belgravia William Curley is a man who knows chocolate, his chocs, pastries and opulent deserts are both beautiful looking and beautiful to eat. So it should come as no surprise that his hot chocolates are pretty special as well. They use Amedei Toscano chocolate flakes which are 70% cocoa, served with a ratio of about one part chocolate to four parts hot milk – with a little froth on top. With a bit of extra milk on the side in case it's just too chocolatey for you. Depending on the time of year they also serve cinnamon, chilli or hazelnut praline infused varieties.
As a standard a cup of Paul A Young hot chocolate is made from a blend of 70% dark chocolate, additional cocoa powder (100%) and organic, unrefined muscovado sugar. All they add to that is hot water, as Mr. Young's theory is that the chocolate has cocoa butter in it so there's plenty of fat there and you don't need more. At different times of year they vary the blend slightly – thicker and 'gloopier' for winter and fresher and lighter for summer. Paul A Young is really famous for his handmade chocolates though, which you'll be surrounded with in his stores, and you can see his team finishing off in the open kitchens. He also does brownies and similarly choc laden cakes etc.
Mr. Young makes it easy to feed your addiction by selling powder to go, both the regular versions, and the Aztec version, which is spicier because of the black cardamon, ginger and ancho chilli.
Cocomaya 3 Porchester Place, W2 2BS Cocomaya is another bakery/ patisserie/ chocolatier where everything is handmade. They've scoured the world, and keep scouring it, for rare and fine cocoa beans to use in their creations and they're not afraid of mixing it up a little by adding flavours. And not just caramel, giner and rasberry, they also do sour cherry chocs, lavender and cardamon. On the hot choc side they err towards the French style, serving it in tiny gilt cups sans sugar, which are sipped by the smart set in their pretty store.
Artisan du Chocolat 89 Lower Sloane St., SW1W 8DA By all accounts this was one of the first of the new breed of French style chocolatiers to pop up in London. And it's the smell that really gets you here. A rich, sweetness that signals to you that they're making chocolate on the premises. When it comes to hot chocolates they're making that as well, using traditional 70% flakes, or flavours like salted caramel, mole or matcha. One of their latest creations are their 'chocolate dippers' which is a wooden spoon around which chocolate, and co., has been encased. All you need do is heat the milk and stir them in, which is a pretty easy way to have a good hot chocolate experience at home. They come in different flavours, of which sea salted caramel is the classic. The also see their classic chocolate flakes.
The Melt hot chocolate hit is so intense that it's more like a shot that a latte. In store they usually serve 100% Valhrona choc, but you can get chocolate lollypops to take away which you stir into milt to become hot chocolate – this less mess idea is genius. Most of their 'blocks', as they call them are single origin and some of them come in both milk and dark choc.
Theobroma Cacao 43 Turnham Green Terrace, W4 1RG Hopefully this far down in their piece you'll have learned that one hot chocolate is not like another, and in the case of Tehobroma Cacao they have ten of their own for you to get though before you even consider going to another store. The 'house blend' is 62% coco and is made with a mix of dark and milk chocolate and smells a little of vanilla. They whisk the flakes into the milk for each batch. Which ever flavour you choose, and the ginger and chilli options are some of their most popular, you'll get a free truffle on the side.
Best of the High Street: One of the only problems with coveting the artisan hot chocolates served in the above, heavenly, establishments is that there aren't very many of them. If you're looking for the best, most readily available hot chocolates two worth sampling are the thick and pre-mixed offerings served up at Paul and Apostrophe (both French style.). Hopefully these will help tide you over until you can get something a bit fancier inside you.