Coffee culture has taken hold in NYC for sure, but there’s something unapologetically nostalgic, indulgent and sweet—both literally and figuratively—about grabbing a creamy cup of hot chocolate when strolling through the chilly city. And while powdered packets and freeze-dried marshmallows may have tided us over as kids fresh from the sledding slope, for urban exploration, a much more sophisticated and rich blend is required. Here, five shops that hit the hot chocolate spot.
Surrounded by stacks of freshly baked bread and pains du chocolat in the Balthazar boulangerie, cheery baristas whip up hazelnut hot chocolate for a subtly sweet fix. Steeped in hazelnut milk, the balanced blend offers a treat that’s drinkable and not too rich.
Blink and you might miss the tiny little Tuscan chocolate shop just opened adjacent to its parent Taralucci e Vino restaurant in the Flatiron district. Standing just about six feet wide, the Amadei store is packed with decadent rows of gourmet truffles and treats, including varieties of hot cocoa served thick and silky, in traditional Italian form.
Many a New Yorker will direct you to the popular Flatiron lunch spot for their hot chocolate pick-me-up. City Bakery’s straightforward, super-chocolatey take on the drink makes for a perfectly indulgent dessert, so feel free to splurge, especially if you just had a salad.
He calls himself Mr. Chocolate with good reason—Jacques Torres knows how to do chocolate in all forms, including the uber-popular hot chocolate served up at various locations across Manhattan and one in DUMBO (plus, you can buy it online if you miss it when you leave NYC). Both blends—classic, and the spice-loaded “wicked” variety—are brewed from real chocolate bar, no cocoa powder in sight.
The delicious, fuss-free confections on hand at Baked make the trip out to Red Hook well worth it. Specializing in putting a high-quality, only slightly jazzed up refresh on classic baked goods, the guys at Baked apply the same touch to a steamy cup of hot chocolate, plain and simple.