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Jun 1, 2011

Hot chocolate

We took Memorial Day to work on a fun project- testing the hot chocolate varieties we hope to have in our cafe. We initially imagined a matrix of hot chocolates built around different variables like milk, water, melted chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar, caramelized sugar, and more. We began with the basics. Initially, we mixed melted 70% dark chocolate with different quantities of water and milk. We used chocolates from different origins- our Venezuelan and Costa Rican. Next we played with cocoa powder, water, and milk. For this we used Costa Rican cocoa powder, pressed with our cocoa butter press.

After a few rounds of testing, we realized that there are very distinct types of hot chocolate. There’s a Swiss Miss-style hot chocolate that brings you back to childhood nostalgia and cold winter days. Then, there’s a variety that turns on the coffee part of your palette. You could imagine a hot chocolate that has the same rich, smooth punch as coffee, but made with cocoa powder and water. There’s European-style drinking chocolate, dark like the inside of a molten chocolate cake. Finally, we even created a pudding-like hot chocolate that’s velvety and buttery.

Throughout the course of the day, our initial idea of a hot chocolate matrix began to shift. We’ll still work with the full set of variables. But, we hope to find a short set of hot chocolates that hit all of our different associations with the drink. For each of these, we’ll play with the right chocolate, liquid, and sweetener until we nail it. Someday, you’ll be able to come to Valencia Street and taste the full flight!

Finally, yes, our stomachs hurt pretty badly after a full day of hot chocolate tasting. It didn’t help that Todd made delicious homemade marshmallows.

posted by alice


  1. JT

    On a recent food trip to Philly, we went to Naked Chocolate Cafe: http://www.nakedchocolatecafe.com/

    We tried several desserts, including the hot chocolate, but I couldn’t finish it. A bit too thick with a really buttery mouthfeel. A touch too sweet. It was then that I realized I preferred my hot chocolate to have the body–and the bitterness–of a shot of espresso.

  2. Andy

    Kakawa in Santa Fe, NM did a ridiculous amount of research into historical hot chocolate recipes and serve a larger variety then I’ve ever seen anywhere else. Definitely some strange ones that most people might not think of as hot chocolate today with many different spices and sweeteners. I don’t think it’s what you’re going for, but fun to check out: http://www.kakawachocolates.com/elixirs.php

  3. Todd

    @Janice — love the naked chocolate cafe; used to go there all of the time when we had Comcast meetings in Philadelphia. I prefer a rich and full hot chocolate, but I guess it shows that everyone’s preferences are different and we need to have good ones for each category.

    @Andy — thanks for the tip, maybe we will have to take a field trip to check it out!



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