Cocoa season is right around the corner.

Cocoa season is right around the corner.

Versus: Hot Weather? Hot Chocolate!

The Dish: Autumn is coming! We suddenly found ourselves craving fireplaces and other things to keep us warm, like hot chocolate (not to be confused with chaud, that ultra-rich, eat-with-a-spoon chocolate drink). From Fran’s to Theo to Dilettante, we have our pick of candy parlors here in Seattle, but we chose two spots with chocolate in their name for this sweet-spot challenge.

The Rivals: Chocolopolis, 1527 Queen Anne Ave. N., 282-0776, QUEEN ANNE. 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. But the one we were after was the plain old cocoa ($3.95), made from Guittard chocolate—a nice mix of 38 percent milk and 55 percent dark. 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. For an extra $2, you can get some housemade marshmallows thrown in. To keep this an even playing field, we declined.

Chocolati, 1716 N. 45th St., 633-7765, WALLINGFORD. If you can get past the sometimes-surly service at this Wallingford shop, you’ll be rewarded with a pretty decent drink. The house chocolate ($2.95) is made with Chocolati’s own milk and dark chocolates, heated in crock pots and ladled into cups. The downside of ladling chocolate into cups? It’s kind of messy, and often leaves chocolate drizzles on your mug. But we’re not complaining: This hot cocoa is sweeter than Chocolopolis’, but not as rich or thick. Also, once we finished our cocoa, we were left with a surprising amount of wayward chocolate stuck to the bottom of our mug. The liquid stuff just doesn’t blend as well as the freshly ground. No wonder the drink loses points in the thick-and-rich department.

The Champ: Chocolopolis is where we’ll be getting our next cup of hot chocolate when we’re on Queen Anne. It’s rich, not too sweet, and has a very nice satisfying taste, like a melted Easter bunny. There’s no crazy aftertaste, and the milk is steamed to just the right temperature. The only thing we’ll do differently next time is order it with a side of marshmallows.

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