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Food + Drink

10 Ridiculously Good Cups of Hot Cocoa

This winter weather may finally stick. And what better way to get all warm and cozy than with a steaming cup of hot cocoa? Kate Donnelly rounds up the best across the U.S.

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Photo by Randy Schmidt

1

Willa Jean, New Orleans

In the new, brick-walled Willa Jean, pastry chefs Kelly Fields and Lisa White serve rich, velvety hot cocoa made with a sinful layer of whipped peanut butter cream and homemade peanut butter marshmallows. It's the finest cup you'll find in Nola.

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2

Maman, NYC

This chic French bakery/café in Soho draws crowds, thanks to its addictive Lavender Hot Chocolate (steamed milk infused with dried lavender that's blended with dark chocolate). Maman is so popular, it's opening outposts in Tribeca and Greenpoint later this year.

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3

Compartes Chocolatier, LA

The Los Angeles-based Compartes Chocolatier has been serving legendary patrons, including Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra, for more than 65 years. Today, you can drink like an old glam star with the signature hot chocolate, made from 73% single origin dark chocolate. The best part? It's 100% organic.

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4

Voila Chocolate, NYC

This Upper West Side newcomer churns out hand-mixed hot chocolate flavors like pumpkin spice and the potent Daredevil made with 72% dark cocoa. For an added touch of sweetness, try the Matcha Green Tea or Dark Banana with 31% white chocolate.

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5

Pop Bar, NYC

The simple concept behind Pop Bar scores in the originality department. All you have to do is stir its "Hot Chocolate on a Stick" into a cup of steamed milk and you get a premium blend of all-natural cacao (dark, milk and vanilla flavors are all available).

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6

Cacao, Atlanta

Cacao’s sophisticated bean-to-bar drinks include standout flavor combos like a classic dark paired with a handmade cinnamon marshmallow, a matcha with a ginger marshmallow and a traditional Aztec with a passion fruit marshmallow.

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7

Kakawa Chocolate House, Santa Fe

In a small adobe house, Kakawa (an Olmec word meaning chocolate or cacao) serves sixteen cool and hot elixirs known for their rich and bold taste profile. Among our favorites: the intense 100% dark chocolate "Chili" with New Mexican red chili; the "Marie Antoinette" with delicate notes of orange blossom; and the creamy, spicy "Tzul," which translates to dog. With every cup of Tzul sold, Kakawa makes a donation to the Santa Fe animal shelter.

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8

French Broad Chocolates, Asheville

There’s a bounty of hot cocoas at Asheville’s French Broad Chocolates (fair trade, organic) including the mouthwatering liquid truffle with housemade ganache, infused with flavors like maple and smoked sea salt, rose, pistachio and cardamom. The sweet, frothy Oaxaca hot chocolate with ground almonds and cinnamon is another favorite. Pair it with a mint chocolate chunk brownie.

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Photo by Scott Shigley

9

Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, Chicago

In the Windy City, James Beard Award Winner Mindy Segal whips up both virgin and boozy hot chocolates (think an old fashioned using rich milk chocolate and a hint of caramel with cocoa nib whipped ganache). For an extra spike, try the hot buttered rum.

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10

Moonstruck Chocolate Co, Portland OR

This homegrown Portland shop is known for its extensive, handcrafted truffle collection, but also doles out warming hot chocolate. We love the spicy Mayan blend with hints of almond and cinnamon, but traditionalists can't go wrong with the Mexican milk dark chocolate.

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11

Christopher Elbow, Kansas City

There’s an exotic touch and taste to chocolatier Christopher Elbow’s high-end Kansas City shop. Here, thick Venezuelan peanut butter drinking chocolate is met with a menu of global chocolate bars that include flavors like coconut curry, Chinese five spice, ginger caramel, raspberry and roasted hazelnut.