The depth of winter allows few indulgences, but a steaming cup of hot chocolate is something that almost anybody can enjoy.
Stuart Ross of Bulldog Coffee (89 Granby, at Church, 416-606-2275) made his mark locally as a champion barista specializing in latte art.
“I’m known for my signature drinks, but I needed something that would really wow my customers,” says Ross when asked how he came up with the concept for his truly remarkable hot white chocolate Blanco Bulldog ($3).
First, he lines the inside of a heavy 16-ounce glass mug with dark chocolate syrup in a zigzag pattern. Then he adds steamed 2 per cent milk infused with imported all-natural French white chocolate to the glass, creating an impressively creamy froth on top. A few more squirts of dark chocolate and a quick swirl results in the richest cold-killer around. And if the sugar buzz isn’t enough, slide in a shot of espresso for another buck.
Down in the Distillery District, Willy Wonka-esque Soma (55 Mill, bldg 48, at Trinity, 416-815-7662) whips up three different versions of Mayan Hot Chocolate. Most people go traditional-style with steamed milk or water (both $4.25), but hardcore chocaholics swear by the stuff straight ($3.50 shot).
Made with dark Venezuelan chocolate and served in a dainty demitasse, this “intoxicating elixir” contains soothing notes of cinnamon, ginger and orange peel followed by the unexpected kicks of Madagascar vanilla bean and chili pepper.
Burrito boy Johny Banana (181 Bathurst, at Queen, 416-304-0101) also gives hot chocolate a Mexican twist. The cantina’s Vivian Martin admits that her idiosyncratic Chocolate Azteca ($3.50) involves dark Mexican cocoa, scalded 1 per cent milk and chipotles as well as several other “secret chilies.” No matter, after one heavenly sip, you’ll know why hot chocolate is known as the drink of the gods.