Five Hot Chocolates to Take the Edge Off of a Chicago Winter
Anyone who has ever stood on the lakefront and felt the cold November breeze blowing off of Lake Michigan understands why hot chocolate is one of the four major food groups in Chicago (along with hot dogs, pizza and Italian beef). As with most Chicago foods, there is a certain civic pride in having the best hot chocolate around. With that in mind, here are five Chicago hot chocolates that are generally considered "The best of the best."
1. Mindy's Hot Chocolate - With a restaurant name like "Mindy's Hot Chocolate", it shouldn't come as a complete surprise that their hot chocolate is really something special. They offer 11 varieties of hot chocolate, including varieties like "Mexican", "Pumpkin Spice", and "Dark Soy." One of the more popular drinks in this restaurant on Damen is "The Medium" which is made from milk chocolate with delightful hints of dark chocolate and caramel. The drinks come with homemade marshmallows and there's even the option to spike the hot chocolate with brandy, cognac, whiskey or rum.
2. Bittersweet Cafe - This well-known bakery has been serving Chicago for 25 years. Located on Belmont in the heart of the city, Bittersweet makes a gorgeous hot chocolate that tastes as good as it looks. The tasty medium-thick drink comes in an elegant white pitcher and even has a little bowl of whipped cream on the side. After you pour the mixture into your mug, you can garnish it however you like. This is French-style bittersweet hot chocolate with just a trace of orange, so it is very rich and creamy and not too sweet.
3. Caffe Umbria-- Caffe Umbria is not the biggest shop on Clark Street, really just a tiny little place to get a cup of gourmet coffee to keep you going through your day. One of the best kept secrets of this shop, however, is that it's also a great place to get hot chocolate. Once you get past the delicious smell of roast coffee in the cafe, you can treat yourself to the silky-sweet taste of delicious hot chocolate, complete with a cappuccino-esque layer of foam on top. If you happen to visit in the fall, be sure to try the cayenne pepper-infused mocha picante for a hot chocolate with a kick.
4. All Chocolate Kitchen - Alain Roby, the owner and mastermind behind the All Chocolate Kitchen holds Guinness world records for his incredible chocolate and sugar sculptures. He uses the same passion (and some of the same ingredients) to make the Grand Cru hot chocolate at this shop in the far west Chicago suburb of Geneva. This ultra-dark hot chocolate is made from criollo cocoa beans that give it a deep, rich flavor that needs to be offset by the whipped cream option.
5. XOCO - At XOCO, a trendy Aztec restaurant run by a husband and wife team on Clark Street, the creation of hot chocolate is an art form. They roast cocoa beans from Mexico right on the premises and then grind them on a big granite wheel--talk about fresh! They use this fine, fresh chocolate to create a thinner hot chocolate than many of their competitors, using water instead of milk and adding just the right amount of sugar to make it a grown-up treat.