• By: OLM Staff

The Five Downtown Hot Chocolates You Have to Try Before Christmas

The Ministry of Coffee’s nutty Nutella hot chocolate. Photo by Samantha Lapierre.

We’ve all said it, there’s nothing better than a hot chocolate on a cold day. A good cup warms you from your fingers to your toes and can provide a head-spinning sugar rush or a stomach settling heartiness. As residents of the world’s coldest capital city (take that Ulaanbaatar), Ottawans take hot chocolate very seriously, and our local restaurants, cafes and chocolateries deliver year after year. This year, OLM brought together a few of our chocolate-obsessed writers to dish on the best spots in the city to grab a warm and sweet coco. So sit back, put your feet up by the fire, and let our list of ‘The Five Downtown Hot Chocolates You Have to Try Before Christmas’ warm you up a little.

American Hot Chocolate at Cacao 70 (53 William Street, ByWard Market)

Mireille's Hot Chocolate

By Mireille Sylvester

I like to think of myself as a bit of a hot chocolate connoisseur. My friends and I have even coined a hip term for the drink – HoCho. You heard it here first. I hope it sticks! I’ve sampled many a hot chocolate in the Ottawa area, but I often find myself returning to Cacao 70 in the ByWard Market. The restaurant almost exclusively serves chocolate-related items such as fondue, crepes, ice cream, and even gourmet chocolate pizza (the s’more one is my favourite). The hot chocolate, however, is on another level entirely. My favourite is called the American Hot Chocolate (pictured), which sounds like a regular, plain Jane drink, but I can assure you it tastes like you’re taking a sip of Willy Wonka’s chocolate river. It comes with marshmallows and drizzled chocolate. For the adventurous types, Cacao 70 also offers Mexican style hot chocolate (spiced with cinnamon), a Cacao 70 spicy hot chocolate (featuring paprika and curry) and frozen hot chocolates. As an added bonus, you can choose between milk, dark, or semi-sweet chocolate. ‘Tis the season for hot chocolate, and I can guarantee you that Cacao 70 won’t disappoint!

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate at Truffle Treasures (679 Bank Street, the Glebe)

Hot Chocolate
A very festive peanut butter hot chocolate. Photo by Sofie Sharom.

By Sofie Sharom

In the heart of the Glebe, Truffle Treasures is a local chocolatier serving up decadent chocolates, sinful gelatos and gourmet hot chocolates. The specialty peanut butter hot chocolate does not disappoint. Gently foamed milk is melded together with your choice of white, semi-sweet or dark chocolate, and mixed with the key ingredient – a scoop of real peanut butter. Topped with whipped cream in a generously-sized mug, the light chocolate peanut butter flavour is a welcome surprise. Their peanut butter hot chocolate is just one of many hot chocolate creations which also include peppermint, ginger/orange, pumpkin spice and banana.

Nutella Hot Chocolate at The Ministry of Coffee (279 Elgin Street)

Ministry Sign
Photo by Samantha Lapierre.

By Samantha Lapierre

Since 2013, The Ministry of Coffee has been serving up delightful hot drinks and delectable treats. Its Elgin Street atmosphere is the stuff of café legend: homey, relaxed and full of friendly baristas who know their stuff. It comes as no surprise, then, that The Ministry’s Nutella Hot Chocolate is a delight. Standing in front of the counter, it’s easy to see that not a single packet of hot chocolate powder or drop of lukewarm water goes into it. From the moment I took my very first sip, I was blown away by its rich (but not too sweet) hazelnut flavor and creamy texture. It is often difficult to find a luxurious hot chocolate that doesn’t have a luxurious price tag attached. A great aid to help with the winter blues, The Ministry’s Nutella Hot Chocolate is a treat for even the pickiest hot chocolate connoisseur.

Signature Hot Chocolate with Coconut Whipped Cream at Thimblecakes (369 Bank Street)HC4

By Eric Murphy

Everything about Thimblecakes is absolutely adorable and sweet. Their famous treats are beautifully decorated, their plush chairs and couch look too cute to sit on and if you ask for their signature hot chocolate, the powder comes from inside an enormous glass jug. Like just about everything in the store, the cocoa powder is made in house. It comes with coconut whipped cream on the top and you can order it with coconut milk to make it dairy free. That’s great news for any lactose intolerant folks like me, because no one wants a hot chocolate made with just water.

Thimblecakes is known for their beautiful cupcakes, but once I’d taken a sip of the signature hot chocolate it was obvious that they really are masters of all things sweet. The coconut milk makes the hot chocolate light and gives it an unusually deep flavour. Naturally, the coconut whipped cream is so good you could eat it with a spoon. As light as the hot chocolate is, it ends with big chocolaty kick that makes your eyes pop and gets you ready to head back out into the cold, as any good cocoa should.

Aztec Hot Chocolate at Bernard Callebaut (256 Dalhousie Street, ByWard Market)

BC Hot CocoBy Kathleen Smith

When I discovered Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut last year during a cold January quest for some hot chocolate, it was love at first sip. I was transported back to the year I lived in Belgium, where every cup of rich, creamy hot chocolate sent shivers down my spine and made angel choirs sing.

Earlier this week, I returned to taste their god’s-nectar once again. I tried their Aztec hot-chocolate, flavored with cloves, cinnamon, chilli, and cardamom, with semi-sweet chocolate as a base. My drink was perfection.  The spices lend sophistication and complexity, while also adding to the drink’s warming effect. The chocolate was rich and flavorful, and the milk was perfectly steamed. I also stole a few sips of my boyfriend’s peanut butter hot chocolate. Imagine, if you will, a frothy, liquid peanut butter cup with a gourmet chocolate base — it was lovely. This is hot chocolate at its finest — rich, flavourful, and indulgent. I cannot recommend it highly enough.