Where to find some of the best hot chocolate in the U.S.

Illustration for article titled Where to find some of the best hot chocolate in the U.S.
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It’s a snow day here in Takeout-land (that is, Chicago)! Well, it’s a snow day in the sense that there are several inches already on the ground and more continues to fall, though not in the sense that work and school have been unexpectedly and gloriously canceled. (Another thing the pandemic has taken from us!) Nonetheless, everything is white and pristine right now, even the alley behind my apartment building, and eventually I’m going to take my dog out to play and we will pass children attempting to build snowmen, and our 21st-century city neighborhood will start to look like a Currier & Ives print without the horse-drawn sleighs.

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This is the kind of snow day that not only calls for, but demands hot chocolate. USA Today very presciently put together a list of “10 of the best hot chocolates across the United States.” I appreciate that it’s “10 of the best” instead of “the 10 best” because it allows for the possibility that there are plenty of other great hot chocolates that could have made the list, if only USA Today knew about them.

Anyway, the 10 on this list are spread across the entire country, from Philadelphia to Portland, Oregon, and Bozeman, Montana, to New Orleans. They also encompass a range of styles: creamy Parisian, spicy Mexican, trendy hot chocolate bombs (one in the shape of the Liberty Bell). Some come with a shot of booze, some with marshmallows. One shop, Kakawa in Santa Fe, uses historical recipes from pre-Columbian times (and also one allegedly invented by Thomas Jefferson).

I have actually visited one of these cafes, Katherine Anne Confections in Chicago, famous for its array of both hot chocolate and marshmallow flavors (it sells the marshmallows and also chocolate truffles at farmers markets in the summer), and can attest that it is worthy. On this basis, I declare the list trustworthy, and someday, when life gets back to normal, I will make it my mission to try as many more as possible. But for now, I guess I’ll make do with the jar of Penzey’s cocoa that lives in my spice cabinet.

Associate editor of The Takeout. Chicagoan. Owned by dog.

DISCUSSION

One of the best hot chocolates I’ve ever had was, weirdly enough, at my old job. They had a fancy coffeemaker with a hot chocolate option that wasn’t even that obvious unless you knew to look for it (Like a chump, I had been using another lesser machine for my hot chocolate needs). My best work friend told me about it and gave me the tip of adding a little bit of vanilla syrup as an option. It was so good. Almost too chocolately, almost too rich, but not quite.

On the day of the mass layoffs and given a time limit before we needed to leave, I, in shock, packed up my desk, said goodbye to my friends and then walked outside. Then I walked back inside and made one last hot chocolate. I don’t regret it.