Red noses and rosy cheeks are beginning to arrive in Boston, and with the temperatures quickly dropping, it’s safe to say that mother nature has some thick blankets of snow in store for us this season. Down jackets and snow boots are great and all, but when it comes to combating this weather, you’re also going to need to arm yourself with a cup of decadent hot chocolate to take your mind off the chill.
Thankfully, a place as brutally cold and windy as Boston is scattered with restaurants and shops that are home to the most fantastic cups of hot chocolate you will ever taste. And while I’m sure you’ve heard of heavenly places like L.A. Burdick and Max Brenner, this winter I thought it would be fun to venture away from the signature hot chocolates we Bostonians know so well. Instead, I have assembled a list of some of the unique, ingenious spins on this classic drink that you are definitely going to want to warm up with this season.
Voltage Coffee & Art: The “Besos Fuertes”
295 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02142
Spicy hot chocolates are always delicious if you’re looking to add a little kick to your drink. But if you want something a little less traditional than the Mexican classic, I highly suggest stopping by Cambridge’s Voltage Coffee to get a taste of their “Besos Fuertes” hot chocolate. The name of this drink literally translates to “strong kisses,” and you will understand why as soon as you take a sip of this spicy ginger root-infused drink. Another fantastic thing about Voltage’s hot chocolate is that it is made with cocoa and agave nectar, meaning that vegan options are available. Oh, and it also means that you might be able to get away with telling your friends that it’s “healthy” hot chocolate. Maybe.
The Paris Creperie: The Mint Nutella Hot Chocolate
278 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA 02446
If you ever get sick of eating Nutella out of the jar (never!), head to Coolidge Corner and stop by the Paris Creperie. This wonderful little French cafe takes Nutella to an entirely new level by steaming it into their already-amazing hot chocolate. But what makes this particular drink so inventive is that it also comes in a mint-Nutella hot chocolate variation. But I will warn you that you’re probably going to want to opt for the smaller size — while the mint adds a refreshing flavor to the drink, it’s still incredibly decadent.
Max Brenner: The “Sukao” Chocolate Shot or White Chocolate Chai
745 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116
OK, this one was a difficult decision. “Chocolate by the bald man” is one of those things that all-chocolate loving Bostonians will try at some point in their lives, but with such an extensive dessert menu, it’s hard to even choose what to order. Of course, there’s the signature hug-mug that Max Brenner does so well, but make it past the first few pages of the menu and you’ll see that there are some other pretty badass options to choose from. The “Sukao” chocolate shot is perfect if you’re looking for something different, but not too off-the-charts. It’s basically chunks of chocolate mixed into warm milk (that you get to stir yourself!) that you drink through a fancy metal straw. It’s a hot chocolate experience — a delicious one. And if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you must have a sip of the white chocolate chai. This might not constitute as hot chocolate, per say, but there’s something about the spiciness of the chai and the smoothness of the white chocolate ganache that will definitely warm you up.
Finale Desserterie: The Salted Caramel White Hot Chocolate
1 Columbus Avenue Boston, MA 02116
Ok, you’re going to want to stop by Finale’s convenient Park Plaza location to have a sip of their salted caramel white hot chocolate. What makes this cup so particularly wonderful is that it’s crafted with a honey-caramel sauce that has a slightly salty taste to it. And if you happen to be a white chocolate fanatic, you’ll be pleased to know that it is also made with the luxurious Valrhona white chocolate. Now if that doesn’t sound indulgent enough for you, you can also warm up with their array of dessert wines. You might have a difficult time wobbling back in the snow, but it’s worth it.
Oakleaf Cakes Bake Shop: The Aztec Hot Chocolate
12 Westland Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
Since we’re talking creativity, I of course had to include some version of a Mexican or Aztec hot chocolate. Countless places around Boston serve great spins on this odd classic — Simon’s Coffee Shop, Flour Bakery, Sofra — but I’ve found that Oakleaf houses one of the best. The thing about Oakleaf’s Aztec Hot Chocolate is that they top off the wonderful dark chocolate-cayenne-cinnamon combination with one of the fluffiest, most decadent homemade marshmallows I have ever tasted. Who’d have thought that cayenne pepper and marshmallows would go so well together?
So there is is — the most innovative, unexpected takes on hot chocolate that Boston has to offer. Stay warm, guys!