Warm Up With NYC’s Best Hot Chocolate

nyc-best-hot-chocolate-jacques-torres-uwsWow, yup, it finally really feels like winter here in the city, especially now that the piles of blizzard-dumped snow are turning crusty and black, the corners made treacherous with slush lagoons. One more deep freeze and we'll have black ice on the sidewalks as well, just to complete the NYC wintertime trifecta. Anyway, there are plenty of great ways to feel warm and cozy even during the bleakest days of late January and February (alcohol, fireplaces, snuggling, Netflix), but one of my preferred tactics every year has to be sucking down a large, thick, rich cup of hot chocolate from one of our great city's great, uh, hot chocolate spots. There are too many to mention here, but these five that are guaranteed to make you happy.

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City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival 2016

You can get NYC's best hot chocolate–with amazing huge homemade marshmallow, of course–at Maury Rubin's City Bakery all year round (not to mention at several of his seven Birdbath Green Bakery spin-offs), but if you only make it to the 18th Street flagship a couple of times a year, the month to visit is definitely February, when Rubin holds his annual Hot Chocolate Festival. Every day during February City Bakery offers two varieties of hot chocolate: regular (which is excellent) and a rotating special flavor (always worth trying). Among the most intriguing-sounding flavors this year are Fresh Ginger on February 4th, Beer on the 19th, Sunken Treasure (?) on the 21st, S'Morey on the 24th, and Peanut Butter on the 28th. For the complete lineup, see here.

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MarieBelle in Soho

This used to feel a bit like a secret, the back room at the first-rate chocolate shop MarieBelle on lightly-traveled Broome Street. The internet and Instagram changed all that, of course, and it's never as pleasantly empty as in the days of hot chocolate yore, but with its creaky, old-fashioned decor and rococo spoons, it still feels like a great escape from the madness that is most of today's Soho. Choose from among the dozen or so options–from the insanely rich Aztec Hot Chocolate to the lively Matcha Hot Chocolate to the smooth White Chocolate and Vanilla Hot Chocolate–get a pastry or, like me, a piece of their excellent chocolate bark, and prepare for some mid-afternoon bliss.

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Jacques Torres, now with NINE locations

When master chocolatier Jacques Torres opened his first NYC chocolate factory/store a decade ago in what is now called Hudson Square, the space had a cool industrial feel and some of the most fun, best-tasting sweet treats in town. Torres has expanded quite a bit since then, with nine locations now in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and though the newer spots feel a bit more mall-ish to me than the original, the man's confections are as unique and tasty as ever. And that includes the hot chocolate, which gives an intense cocoa hit with enough sweetness to satisfy any dessert cravings. And if you're a chili-chocolate fan, the Torres spicy version is no joke.

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Blossom Bakery in Chelsea

And vegans need not be left out of the hot chocolate coziness! There are a number of options around town these days for non-dairy cocoa delights, but the best might be at Blossom Bakery in Chelsea, part of Manhattan's Blossom restaurant / Blossom du Jour vegan mini-empire. Available in both regular and spiced varieties, Blossom's vegan hot chocolate is rich and creamy with a pleasant kick, a generous handful of mini-marshmallows delivering a blast of sticky sweetness to the party.    

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Supercrown Coffee Roasters, Bushwick

Finally, and this is may be a bit far afield for many of you, but if you find yourself near the Morgan L station in need of an uplifting treat, definitely get over to the new Supercrown Coffee Roasters, located just south of Flushing Avenue, for a heart-racing Shot In the Dark. The base here is melted Ritual 75% Cacoa from Belize, amped up by a shot of Supercrown's terrific espresso, the whole package made sweet and sticky with an over-sized housemade marshmallow. Spend a few minutes in here getting warm and recharged, and you are more than ready for wherever your day takes you next.      

Posted in Downtown, Midtown East, Midtown West, NYC Dining, Other Neighborhoods, Top Picks, Upper East Side, Westside |

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