By Kathy YL Chan
Wandering around the city on a cold day, there’s nothing more comforting than a cup of cocoa. But New York’s best places don’t just offer hot chocolate; they excel in the art of haute chocolate. These are our favorite places to indulge on a chilly afternoon.
La Maison du Chocolat in Midtown
La Maison du Chocolat is just a block from Rockefeller’s ice skating rink. Sink into a plush seat at the cafe and order Caracas ($8), a dark and creamy hot chocolate served in fine china and topped with whipped cream. Note: they also offer a second type of hot chocolate with milk and sugar should you prefer a sweeter concoction.
Pair with: La Maison du Chocolat’s housemade mini Lemon Cake. The bright citrus notes are the perfect companion for chocolate.
Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020; (212) 265-9404
The City Bakery at Union Square
The City Bakery holds a Hot Chocolate Festival each February where they feature a different flavor every day of the month. But you can come in any day of the year for the classic hot chocolate ($5, or $3 for a "shot"), ladled out to order, nearly pudding-thick and topped with a fluffy housemade marshmallow cube.
Pair with: A golden wedge of caramelized French Toast made with brioche—don’t forget the butter.
Address: 3 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011; (646) 722-6565
Otto in Greenwich Village
Slide into a bar seat at Otto after a visit to Washington Square Park. Hot chocolate goes by the name of "Gianduja Calda" ($8) and is served in an Italian coffee mug, a steaming blend of two types of chocolate and hazelnut-infused milk. The whipped cream and buttery shortbread squares are automatic bonuses.
Pair with: The fantastic cheese plate, always accompanied by truffled honey, stewed apricots, and sour cherries.
Address: 1 – 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10003; (212) 995-9559
Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo
After a day of shopping in SoHo, rest your weary feet at the new Dominique Ansel Bakery on Spring Street. Cozy with plenty of seating, you’ll want to linger with cup of housemade hot chocolate ($4.50) from the talented former pastry chef of Daniel, one of New York’s top restaurants. Though thin in texture, it’s a decidedly rich concoction—the best part is a generous topping of frosty milk chocolate foam.
Pair with: A slice of Gâteau Battu—a buttery brioche-like cake from France.
Address: 189 Spring Street, New York, NY 10012; (212) 219-2773
Jacques Torres in SoHo
It’s not easy picking between the Classic and Wicked Hot Chocolate ($4) at Jacques Torres. The Wicked boasts a subtle, tingly touch of heat from chili peppers while the Classic is a luxurious and straightforward favorite which runs on the sweet side. This is a drink you can deem dessert, a velvety and slow-flowing sipper.
Pair with: Jacques Torres’ signature Chocolate Cookie—melting dark chocolate shards layered in the cookie dough take the place of ordinary chocolate chips.
Address: 350 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014; (212) 414-2462
Photo credit: courtesy of Kathy YL Chan