There’s a Hot Chocolate Festival that happens every year in Vancouver, and Wednesday’s your last chance to go! I went on a bit of a binge this weekend to make up for the fact that I hadn’t tried any of the hot chocolates yet, but I’m a hot chocolate addict in the winter so drinking fancy hot chocolate all weekend was more gift than burden.
The Hot Chocolate Festival takes place over the course of four weeks, where various purveyors of sweet things (coffee shops, patisseries, etc.) offer up limited-edition hot chocolates that come in various unusual (or simply expensive) flavour combinations. It’s quite the experience! As a hot chocolate lover, it’s something I look forward to every year.
Here are the three spots I hit up in 2018.
1) Earnest Ice Cream
Who doesn’t love Earnest Ice Cream? I went with a small group of friends to the super-packed Fraser St. location. We were all excited and eager to try out the hot chocolate, because not only is Earnest Ice Cream one of the best small-batch ice cream franchises in Vancouver, the hot chocolate offerings sounded delicious. Between the six of us we tried all three flavours, and between the six of us we were, unfortunately, pretty disappointed. They were underwhelming at best. In the case of the Bohemian Raspberry—which I picked—it was actually difficult to finish: despite being described as a raspberry sipping chocolate with amaretto-infused whipped cream (with a house-made raspberry marshmallow), the strength of the amaretto was so strong in the actual sipping chocolate that the drink had a sickly sweet punch that just didn’t work for me.
The whipped cream and marshmallow, however, were delicious.
I should point out that I’m usually not a huge fan of drinking chocolate, which this was, but I should also point out that I have had drinking chocolate several times and I’ve found my other experiences more palatable.
Note: the pictured hot chocolate was the vegan option, "Very Cherry Cocoa." Coconut and cherry chip ice cream is covered in liquid dark hot chocolate. It was good (their ice cream is always good), but not really worth the money. It's served with a house-made Cherry Haystack.
2) Koko Monk
Koko Monk is a cute little chocolatier nestled in Kits. They offer a variety of healthful chocolates, including vegan options, and they concoct unique hot chocolate offerings year-round. Learning this made me wonder if I should maybe make the trek over more often.
I ordered “A Nonconformist’s Plea for an Imaginary Summer” because it felt relateable. The drink flavour is a mix of raspberry white hot chocolate, rose, and tomato. Which, yes, sounds weird, if you feel funny about tomatoes. Which I do. I ordered it anyway, because I was too curious to pass it up.
And it was was good! If I were a fan of tomatoes, I’m sure I’d love it even more. Bonus: if you’re lactose intolerant, it has a coconut milk base. While many of the Hot Chocolate Fest participants offer vegan options, Koko Monk is particularly accommodating for vegans and those who are lactose-intolerant.
Soirette is my favourite place to visit during the Hot Chocolate Festival. I can never visit every participating shop (that’s the dream!), so I'd like to acknowledge that it’s very likely I’m missing out on some other fantastic hot chocolates, but for the past three years I’ve visited Soirette and it’s always been a delight. This year I purchased their Tipsy Unicorn. It’s a very sweet drink; what you see is exactly what you get. It also happened to be my favourite hot chocolate out of the three I tried this year.
The Tipsy Unicorn is a sweet blend of strawberry, white chocolate, and peach schnapps, topped with whipped cream, shiny pearls and stars, a chocolate horn, and pink cotton candy! I almost died when I saw it.
It was a fantastic way to end the Hot Chocolate Festival, and I’m already excited about next year. If you've participated, what are your thoughts? Do you have any favourite flavour combos so far?
Oh, and if you haven’t checked the festival out but want to know more, here’s the Hot Chocolate Fest site. The whole thing ends tomorrow, so hurry on over to the spots that catch your eye!