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A few weeks ago, we published a list of our 10 favorite milkshakes., which drew the online equivalent of a raised eyebrow: "This time of year, I don't know about you, but we're looking for good hot drinks," a reader commented.
*See Also Seattle's Top 10 Milkshakes
We haven't changed our stance on milkshakes. We still like them all year round. But we can't deny it's cocoa season. Wet, wintry weather pairs wonderfully with hot chocolate (and whipped cream if you wish), and these cafes know how to make a perfect cup of the stuff. As always, there's no significance to the ordering of the finalists, and Erin Thompson compiled our contributors comments. Stay warm out there.
Fran's, the elegant chocolate retailer located in University Village, Bellevue, and the downtown Four Seasons Hotel, sells luxurious gift boxes of chocolate and also a dreamy, award-winning cup of hot chocolate, particularly if you're a fan of dark over milk. It's made with 65% Venezuelan dark chocolate, making for a deep, sumptuous flavor. One cup won't be enough--which is why you can buy a tin of the mix to take home with you.
9. Senor Moose Cafe
Ballard's Senor Moose is one of the most beloved Mexican restaurants in the city, so it's only natural that they should serve up a mean Mexican hot chocolate alongside their delicious margaritas and mole. Rich and infused with just the right amount of spicy kick, a mug of it is the perfect accompaniment to just about anything on the restaurant's sizable breakfast menu.
The Confectional's three storefronts--Capitol Hill, Pike Place, and Seattle Center--encourages you to "Confess Your Love For Cheesecake" and accordingly crafts luscious cakes and truffles. They also serve an equally rich drinking chocolate, served in a small cup that matches their mini-sized cheesecakes. It's a European-style chocolate, meaning it's got a thick, muddy consistency that makes it more like a dessert than a drink. Consuming it with The Confectional's Mexican Chocolate cheesecake might just cause a cocoa overdose.
Befitting the company's responsible reputation, Theo's drinking chocolate is fair-trade, organic, and sold in a recyclable box. The Rich Dark variety is silky smooth, and just a sip is enough to overload your senses with its fine, rich flavor. There's also a Chipotle Spice variety--dark chocolate infused with ancho and chipotle chiles, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. The flavor's so kicky, it's best sipped, not gulped.
The popular Capitol Hill hangout Oddfellows Cafe and Bar offers regular hot chocolate year-round, but come winter time they amp up their cocoa menu by including a second option of Mexican hot chocolate. Also during during the winter months only, the kitchen crafts creamy housemade marshmallows, available as a topping on either flavor. At just $2.25 a glass, it's a holiday treat you can indulge in multiple times once the cold kicks in.
5. Le Pichet
Not only is Le Pichet über romantic and cozy year round, but there's something deliciously cliché about popping into this charming Francophile haunt on a cold winter night for a caramel pecan tart or a decadent cup of chocolat chaud. An order of the latter comes with two dishes: One contains a cup of dark melted chocolate, with a thick pudding consistency, and the other is topped with a good-sized dollop of sweet cream and a spoon for swirling it into the chocolate.
The Chocolate Box sells a variety of offerings from Northwest chocolatiers, including four varieties of sipping chocolates. Chocolat Vitale's Gourmet European blends Belgian and Swiss chocolates. Moonstruck's Mayan hot cocoa includes hits of almond and cinnamon. And the two Theo options are equally luscious and rich: the Chipotle Spice and the holiday classic Peppermint, dark chocolate with a swirl of sweet peppermint.
When it's cold and blustery outside, there might not be a better midday snack than a warmed-up Macrina cookie (Ginger molasses! Chocolate oat peanut butter chip! Apricot chocolate espresso!) alongside a cup of the beloved bakery's hot chocolate. They use Mexican chocolate (in both their cocoas and mochas), giving the hot brew a kicky taste and a cinnamony aroma that melds into the sweet smell that lingers in each Macrina location.
The earliest record of chocolate consumption dates back to the Mayans. They churned cocoa seeds into a frothy substance, added chili peppers, then consumed the spicy, bittersweet drink to increase their libido. Chocolati Café pays homage to this ancient tradition with its Cayenne-Pepper Hot Chocolate. The concoction initially comes off as sweet, but then sucker-punches you with a bizarre tingling. Caffeine addicts can ask for a cayenne-pepper mocha, essentially the same drink with a couple of shots of espresso. Whether this delectable brew does anything for your sex drive is debatable, but at 16 ounces for $3, it beats the hell out of a frappuccino.
Walking into this über-sleepy Upper Queen Anne chocolate shop, you wouldn't think there was any sort of hot action taking place behind the counter. Oh, but there is: Chocolopolis has a special hot chocolate menu, comprising all sorts of liquid treats. The plain old cocoa ($3.95), made from Guittard chocolate--a nice mix of 38 percent milk and 55 percent dark--is a surefire win. Chocolopolis grinds its own chocolate in a food processor. An 8-ounce serving of hot cocoa is equal parts ground chocolate and steamed milk that melts the chocolate into a rich, thick drink. It's not too sweet and has a very satisfying taste, like a melted Easter bunny. For an extra $2, you can get some housemade marshmallows thrown in--"naked" or coated with even more chocolate.