Thursday, November 13, 2014

Shop the Season: Warm Up with Hot Chocolate

Charlotte from the executive office, our resident chocoholic, gives her very qualified opinions on the hot chocolate offerings at the Bank of America Winter Village Holiday Shops.

I am devoted to chocolate. I enjoy chocolate in one form or another at least once a day. I do it for health reasons; it increases brain function, right? So, in order to maintain my healthy “one chocolate a day keeps the doctor away” diet, I decided to try as many hot chocolate drinks from the Winter Village Holiday Shops as possible. I think it should cover me for the week.

Before we dive in, a brief history on hot chocolate: it is said that the Mayans created the beverage over 2,000 years ago and that it was an essential part of Aztec culture. This delightful drink was later introduced to Western society through the colonization of Mexico, brought back to Europe and eventually found its way to Bryant Park. At least that’s what Wikipedia says…

Ok, back to the ganache of the subject, the Grand Hot Chocolate Tasting of 2014! I had a few kiosks on my must sample list: Max Brenner (kiosk I2), No Chewing Allowed (kiosk K12), ‘wichcraft (at the corner of 42nd Street and 6th Avenue), Crêpe Café (kiosk D9), and Wafels & Dinges (kiosk A7).

The first thing I noticed, and this was true of all but one soul warming drink I tried, there is a definite trend towards the thicker is better hot cocoa. Max Brenner’s take on this holiday favorite is aptly named for this quality, Italian Thick Hot Chocolate; thicker than thick, but silky smooth with a touch of sweet and a pleasant malty after taste.

Max Brenner knows you want hot chocolate on the go. 

The next on the “thickness” spectrum would be the indulgent little cup I tasted from No Chewing Allowed. This one was special! Why you asked? Oh, because in addition to this rich, thick, completely satisfying dark chocolate drink they drop in a chocolate truffle. What a treat!

Hot chocolate tastes even better when enjoyed out in the crisp air. 

For those of you who love a full bodied hot chocolate, but want to skip the indulgences, the 64% Semisweet Chocolate and fresh whole milk mixture from ‘wichcraft is right up your allée. Not too sweet, hence the “semi”, with a creamy consistency and full of that real chocolate flavor.

Lucky for us, the 'wichcraft hot chocolate stand remains open long after the Holiday Shops have left the park.
Ok, back to indulgences, enter Crêpe Café. This Holiday Shop has a wide variety of hot chocolate flavors to choose from, but I knew that if I was going to judge a shop by its hot cocoa I needed to try their specialty. Here they served up a piping hot cup of Nutella Hot Chocolate with a chapeau of whipped cream drizzled in its namesake. True to its name, the drink was nutty, sweet, and smooth just like the spread. A must if you are Nutella lover.

Now THAT is a lot of chocolate!

Finally, I tried Wafels & Dinges, a favorite for its delicious and decadent waffles. Their version of this classic concoction is just like the hot cocoa you come to expect from a ski lodge.  It is refreshing and bittersweet, always the right temperature and evoked a certain nostalgia that I could not deny.

Alas, dear reader, I also learned that you can have too much chocolate (scientists are working on this) so pick up where I left off, or return to the path already traveled, and try the myriad of different hot chocolate drinks that the Winter Village Holiday Shops have to offer.

Holiday Shops at Bank of America Winter Village
Weekdays, 11am - 8pm
Saturdays, 10am - 9pm
Sundays, 10am - 6pm
#WinterVillage

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