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Cocoa Loco

We beat back winter one sip at a time with the city’s richest hot chocolates.

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Floatation vice: City Bakery's luscious cupful complete with homemade marshmallow.  

Lunettes Et Chocolate
25 Prince Street (212-925-8800)
Cost: $3–$3.25.
Your tongue will think: Gooey fudge.
Pros: It comes in a demitasse-size to-go cup. At first, it may seem like too small a portion, but you’ll find that it’s just the right amount. There are four varieties, but we especially liked the dark hot chocolate. It’s very thick—you’ll feel like you’re eating hot fudge.
Cons: It’s a bit too sludgy to enjoy as a beverage, and it has a slightly bitter aftertaste. Have a side of water with this one.
Rating: Two stars

City Bakery
3 West 18th Street (212-366-1414)
Cost: $3 ($3.75 with marshmallow).
Your tongue will think: Melted-down bars of dark chocolate sprinkled with pure cocoa.
Pros: What a smell—is that a chocolate cake baking inside your mug? Rich, thick, and, as one taster remarked, “a meal unto itself.” Be sure to ask for the homemade marshmallow on top—a perfect dollop of sweetness to counter the bitterness of the chocolate.
Cons: Ever hear of too much of a good thing? You may not be able to get through an entire mugful.
Rating: Four stars

Vosges Haut-Chocolat
132 Spring Street (212-625-2929)
Cost: $5.
Your tongue will think: A warm (but not hot) blend of rich dark chocolate and vanilla beans.
Pros: It smells heavenly and won’t fill you up, so you can enjoy it with a piece of amazing haut chocolat.
Cons: From the fridge, the “hot” chocolate is blasted with a quick spray of steam to heat it up—which fails to do the trick. And for the price, you’d expect it to be smokin’.
Rating: Three stars

Jacques Torres Chocolate
66 Water Street, near Main Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-875-9772)
Cost: $2.50
Your tongue will think: The highest-quality chocolate you can imagine melted into a sweet, smooth liquid.
Pros: By far the best we tested. Sippers at the next table couldn’t stop exclaiming, “Oh, this is so good.” It’s not unfinishably rich, and it’s served piping hot, so you’ll have some time to enjoy the aroma as it cools.
Cons: A bit off the beaten path—located in Dumbo somewhere between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. Check the Website (mrchocolate.com) for directions.
Rating: Five stars

Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro
1032 Lexington Avenue, near 73rd Street (212-717-5252)
Cost: $5
Your tongue will think: Molten-chocolate cake.
Pros: What your mom strived for: sweet, creamy, silky-smooth, devilishly chocolatey. In other words, about as good as it gets.
Cons: Might be a bit too sweet for some. After three sips, one taster remarked, “I need a glass of water.”
Rating: Four stars

’Wichcraft
49 East 19th Street (212-780-0577)
Cost: $3.
Your tongue will think: A perfect balance of spice and chocolate.
Pros: Not overwhelmingly sweet or chocolatey, thanks in part to infused bay leaves, which give the drink a nice kick.
Cons: If you’re looking for something to warm you up on a blustery afternoon, well, this isn’t it: It’s thin and doesn’t quite hit the spot.
Rating: Three stars

Insider Advice
Chocolatier Jacques Torres reveals dark secrets to concocting a perfectly rich cup at home.

1. Use real ingredients. Actual chocolate instead of cocoa powder; fresh marshmallows (if not homemade, then new from the store, not last year’s rock-hard leftovers); freshly whipped cream; shaved real chocolate and/or fresh cinnamon or cinnamon sticks (toss out that cinnamon that’s been on your spice rack for a decade).

2. Don’t boil the milk to the point that a skin forms on top. Remove the pan from the heat just before it reaches the boiling point.

3. Vary the intensity of the chocolate to your taste by adding more or less into the mix.

4. If children are drinking your hot chocolate, be sure it’s not too hot for their tenderer-than-adult palates.

5. A peppermint stick in the cup makes a colorful, tasty stirrer.


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