FOOD: Hot Chocolate

Before we had hot chocolate, the Aztec's had xocolatl. Cocoa beans were toasted and ground, then mixed with hot water and oftentimes chilies. Far from the sweet drink we know today, xocolatl began its evolution after being served to Spanish conqueror Herní¡n Cortés at the court of Aztec ruler Montezuma II. Upon trying the bittersweet drink, Cortés brought cocoa pods back to Spain with him where the addition of vanilla and cinnamon made for a much sweeter drink. Jump to the 17th Century when, through the addition of milk, chocolate became the fashionable beverage of the wealthy and privileged. Too costly for the every-man, it wasn't until the mid-19th Century when the high import duties on the raw cocoa bean were lowered allowing chocolate to, for the first time, be accessible by the masses. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Peppermint Dark Hot Chocolate

– courtesy of Tamp Coffee Co., Burlington
With an attention to detail and a commitment to quality coffee, Tamp Coffee Co. has created a unique café experience in Burlington's Village Square. Using the state-of-the-art La Marzocco Strada EP coffee machine, owner and barista Jimmy Zereneh crafts the finest drinks from cappuccinos to macchiatos while baking up homemade, healthy goodies such as the chocolate scone (shown) or his special raw, vegan, gluten-free Tamp Circles. At Tamp, there are two things that make the hot chocolate exceptional: the perfect temperature, and perfectly steamed milk. You can duplicate the smooth flavours of this comforting beverage at home through the use of a handheld frother or espresso machine.
– 2049 Pine Street, Unit # 65, The Village Square, Burlington; 416.917.5745

RECIPE: Peppermint Dark Hot Chocolate

Choc Hotlet

– courtesy of Kerr Street Café, Oakville
In order to make a quality hot chocolate, the first step is to ensure you're using quality ingredients. To create the same calibre of hot chocolate in your own kitchen, start by purchasing a 50 to 70 per cent dark chocolate bar, break the bar into smaller pieces and melt the chocolate in a bowl over a few inches of water. The heat created by double boiling will ensure that you melt the chocolate without burning it. At Kerr Street Café, Lindt dark chocolate is the perfect addition to their classic “choc hotlet.”
– 298 Kerr Street, Oakville; 289.837.1535

RECIPE: Choc Hotlet

Allegro Drinking Chocolate
If you want the ease of an instant hot chocolate but­­­­­­ dislike the faux flavour it provides, pick up a box of Allegro Coffee Company's Drinking Chocolate. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market, the selection of Allegro Drinking Chocolate includes Whole Trade and Rainforest Alliance Certified varieties, and is made with cocoa butter to encourage the most pure flavour profile. Cocoa is harvested in Costa Rica, Peru, Colombia and Dominican Republic providing an array of unique flavour combinations due to the different varieties of cocoa grown in these regions. Allegro Drinking Chocolate is available for $13 at Whole Foods Market.