If you've been following along on my instagram, you are aware that there is a hot chocolate festival going on in Vancouver. It's everything you could imagine and it is running through Valentine's Day. It's definitely not the best thing for my weight loss, but it's a great excuse to get friends out to talk and catch up. Plus, it's soooo tasty! I've listed below the hot chocolates that we tasted and will be updating it as the festival is happening. Click on the picture to see the next one.
"Flu Shot from Mink Chocolates: is Baileys infused warm white chocolate ganache served in a large syringe and comes with an individually wrapped throat lozenge.
"Don't Bug Me" from Mink Chocolates: is coconut milk and 38% milk hot chocolate garnished with free-range dried crickets. It's served with a 72% mini dark chocolate square.
"This is Nuts" from Thomas Haas: chocolate (55% cocoa) infused with caramelized hazelnut & almond butter. Served with our “haaselnut”cream and financier sandwich.
"Madagascar" from Thierry: The base of this hot chocolate is 68% small plantation Ampamakia chocolate by Valrhona.
"Tahitian Dream" from Bel Cafe: 32% Valrhona Dulcey chocolate. (Dulcey is a white chocolate in which the milk solids have been caramelized, giving the chocolate a tan color and toasted milky caramel notes.) Served with dulcey-dipped coconut marshmallow and Tahitian vanilla bean shortbread.
"Homemade Oreo Hot Chocolate" from Butter Baked Goods: A dark chocolate hot chocolate with vanilla bean whipped cream and homemade oreo cookie crumbs on top. Paired with a homemade Oreo cookie (which was truly the breakout star of this one).
"Earl Goes Boom" from Bella Gelateria: White hot chocolate steeped in Mighty Leaf Earl Grey Tea and locally grown lavender from Full Bloom Farms. Served with a vanilla gBAR (gelato cookie bar).
The "Rainforest" from Bel Cafe: 64% Valrhona Tainori chocolate. (Tainori is a dark chocolate of single origin from the Dominican Republic. On the palate, this chocolate gives notes of exotic yellow dried fruits.) Served with aerated mango, brazil and almond florentine.
"The Lumberjack" from 49th Parallel Coffee + Lucky's Donuts: Spicy dark hot chocolate.
Served with maple marshmallow and chocolate covered wafer logs.
"The Nanaimo Bar" from 49th Parallel Coffee + Lucky's Donuts: A 72% dark chocolate paired with butter icing sweetened milk and topped with a coconut whipped cream. Served with a doughnut-shaped financier.
The "Sizzling Space" from Diva at the Met: spice and herbal blend of chili pepper, star anise, cardamon, orange zest, cloves, cinnammon, hibiscus and rose hips - all brewed slowly to form an herbal tea, then mixed with Barry Callebaut cocoa and Valrhona chocolate. Topped with crushed rose hips to bring out some texture, resulting in a mildly spicy, herbal hot chocolate infusion. Served with a Raspberry Tea Cake. (not pictured)
The "Adults Only" from Diva at the Met: A rich, but not too sweet mixture of Barry Callebaut cocoa and Valrhona chocolate is mixed, heated, and placed in its serving vessel. Atop the vessel, is placed a flat chocolate lid, complete with a chocolate Bailey's ball. After about 30 seconds, the lid melts and the entire lid falls into the hot chocolate. Stir the mixture together to enjoy an 'Adults Only' hot chocolate. Served with a Matcha Green Tea Cake.
It's hard to give reviews on hot chocolate because I recognize that everyone has different tastes and expects different things from a good cup of hot cocoa. I want my hot cocoa to be thick and creamy and not have to rely on a paired treat to bring out the flavor.
My favorite was the Tahitian Dream from Bel Cafe. I thought it was the perfect consistency and flavor to be enjoyed on its own. It was one of the few that I was able to finish without feeling a massive sugar rush.
My least favorite was the Earl Goes Boom from Bella. I love earl grey and thought this would be an easy hit. But, I was disappointed with the texture and thickness. It really felt like I was just having an earl grey latte. I drank it fast, without being able to sit back and enjoy it because I kept searching for more flavor.
Worth mentioning are the Sizzling Spice from Diva which stretched my pallet in a very sophisticated way that didn't feel gimmicky. I was wary of the Sizzling Spice because the "chill pepper" were used in the description. Kyle ordered it and as it turned out, I loved it. It came with a mall vial of spices that you added into the chocolate. The Sizzling Spice paired unexpected and untraditional ingredients together to create something truly great.
The richest hot chocolate I tried would be a close tie between the Madagascar from Thierry and This is Nuts from Thomas Haas. It took me a couple hours to fully finish the Madagascar and I wasn't able to finish the cup from Thomas Haas. But there were so many that were rich, it got hard to tell the difference.
To sum up, we love hot chocolate and love being in a place that holds a hot chocolate festival every year. Still, my favorite year round hot chocolate is found at Mink Chocolates where they offer the best milk and dark hot chocolate around in my opinion.