Powered by Blogger.

2014 hot chocolate festival!

As there are only two weeks remaining in the hot chocolate festival, I thought it'd be best if I quickly compiled a review of the 8 plac...

As there are only two weeks remaining in the hot chocolate festival, I thought it'd be best if I quickly compiled a review of the 8 places I've gone to thus far so that some of you can try out my favourites! (I went to 6 places in 6 days before taking a quick break- talk about an obsession!)

This is the 4th annual Hot Chocolate Festival, though I didn't have the pleasure of knowing about it till last year- and even then, I was only able to try out one place. This year, I decided to throw myself wholeheartedly into the task of trying as many places as I could- placing precedence over Dine Out, even! As many of my friends are aware, hot chocolate/chocolate milk is my favourite drink ever, so this was certainly a task I would enjoy :)

You can see my dedication in the fact that I spent an hour writing out every single location and menu items. I'm really very proud of this list, haha.

On the first day of the festival, my friend Erica had just come from Miku for Dine Out, so I decided to choose somewhere nearby- the famed Bella Gelateria, which offers six choices: "Monkey's Uncle", "Black Magic", "The Evita", "London Foggy", "Red Hot Chilli Pepper", & "Dark & Dangerous". Being somewhat of a salted caramel fiend (and knowing that said salted caramel at Bella is absolutely sublime), I was quick to choose "The Evita", while Erica decided on "Black Magic". For about $7, you get a fairly large cup of hot chocolate, a gelato bar, and a slice of Erin Ireland's lovely banana bread. Now, I'm sure most people are aware of her infamous banana bread- I'd always thought, "Surely it's just hype- how different could it be from normal banana bread?" Boy, was I wrong. It truly was "to die for"- chocolatey & moist but not overwhelmingly sweet- I'm sure I could eat 10 slices, given the chance! As for the hot chocolate itself- it was great, though nothing extremely exciting. We were handed our cups with the gelato bars already submerged, so by the time I could pick mine up, it had already melted.  Luckily, Erica's came after mine, so I was quickly able to snap a picture. By the time I got to the bottom of my cup, most of the salted caramel was just sitting there, adding a nice hit of that salty-sweet taste I love.

The next day, after an extremely long Sunday filled with meetings, my friend Priscilla and I headed to Terra Breads which was nearby, and also the only place that was open until 7pm. Here, you have two choices: "Call Me A Cab", and "Aloha Sweetie". We ordered both, at about $4 each. I really liked "Aloha Sweetie"- the white chocolate base isn't as sweet as you'd expect, and the hibiscus flavour is quite unique....slightly tart and bitter, but that's offset by the sweet mountain berry marshmallow (which I loved). The lemon crisp cookie is also delicious- I just wish it was slightly larger!

Day 3- I headed to French Made Baking as their five choices are on a rotation basis and I really wanted to try the "Blonde Fatale"- Valrhona Dulcey caramelized white chocolate and salted caramel (as if there was any doubt as to why I was so desperate to give this a go)- and on the side, a sablé chocolat- sablé is just french shortbread. I also ordered a eggnog macaron as I hadn't had an macarons in ages and was going through withdrawal ;)

This....this absolutely blew me away. Their hot chocolate is pre-made and kept in a heated churner (?- for lack of a better word to use. I don't know the proper term!!) It looks absolutely unassuming and bland, but I couldn't gush more about it. If you've had Horlicks before- it tastes like that with an underlying hint of caramel. Just the right amount of sweetness! The sablé was also amazing- slightly dry as you'd expect from shortbread, but the huge chocolate chunks were sweet and moist, so it all worked well together. And the price!!!! Oh, how I could go and on about the price- it's $4 for the hot chocolate, and an extra $1.75 if you want the cookie as well. So reasonable! If you want to try the "Blonde Fatale", it's only available February 2, 7, & 12- but I definitely, definitely, recommend it!

Writing out of order, but I also returned to French Made Baking a week later and tried their "Belle du Sud"- lavender-infused Valrhona Bahibe milk chocolate with 4 lavender guimauves (marshmallows). As before, I also ordered a macaron- this time, a honey/lavender/white chocolate one which I thought would go well with the hot chocolate. While it was no match for the "Blonde Fatale", I still very much enjoyed this. While I typically only like your usual Jet Puffed marshmallows toasted, I adore guimauves. They're whimsical, fun, and so pretty when photographed! These were light with the faint taste of lavender, but they were a bit sweet, so I tossed the rest into the hot chocolate. Perfect. The drink itself was great- not too chocolately, and the infusion of lavender was very soothing- I even found a tiny bit of lavender in my cup! As with my first visit, the hot chocolate was $4, and an additional $1.75 for the marshmallows. If you want to try this, it's available February 1, 6, & 11.



Back to chronological order. Day 4: Mink Chocolates. I absolutely HAD to try the "Paula Deen White Trash Trainwreck"- how could you hear that name and not be curious? This was only available till the end of January, but they also have another selection for February. Unfortunately, I was extremely disappointed with it. It photographs amazingly, but it was too much. The steaming hot 70% dark chocolate ganache was a bit like having a chocolate bar being melted in your throat, but it was just way too rich. I imagine this may be easier shared with two or more people, but quite impossible on my own. The salted kettle chips were good, but soon got soggy- though I did love the taste of the vanilla whip. To add to the pain, it definitely wasn't a cheap one, at ~$8.40. I left feeling very sad and quite parched- was dying to have something to wash it all down! I think I was doubly disappointed because I've been to Mink many times and really like their hot chocolate- this was just a hit & miss for me. It's quite amusing to hear them call out your order though- it's shortened to "White Trash"!

Day 5: Bel Cafe. After the disappointment of Mink, I was really hoping this would be a huge improvement. Besides salted caramel, my other love is mint, so I went for the "Peppermint Patty"- I liked it, thank goodness! Also using Valrhona chocolate like at French Made Baking, it had a lovely refreshing minty taste, and the vanilla bean chantilly really helped pull it all together. The double fudge cookie was as sweet as you'd expect it to be, but I ate half and crumbled the rest into my hot chocolate, which worked out nicely. This was $7.10, but was also only available till the end of January. They have a "Banana Split" hot chocolate for February that I will definitely be trying as well. Also! This is something small, but I really appreciated it- both Bel Café & French Made Baking provided me with a glass of water as well on the side. 

Day 6: Thierry! Yet another place that needs no introduction, I'm sure. I was excited to try the "Trio of Chocolate", though became slightly wary when I realized I had paid $10.24 for it. In the end, I don't think it was unjustified though- it was much more than just a hot chocolate- somewhat more of a mini dessert platter, haha. They place a scoop of white chocolate ice cream into your cup, then pour 66% Mokaya hot chocolate over it and over that is placed a disk of 45% Kayambe milk chocolate which eventually melts into said hot chocolate. Yuuuuum. Something they don't mention on the menu is that they also give you a small disk of chocolate on the side with a cream puff- inside which is a mix of normal whip but also hazelnut chocolate filling, I believe? A tad like a Ferrero Rocher- delicious. (Yet another January offering only, unfortunately, but check out what they have until February 10th!)

Day 7.....well, God rested on the seventh day, and I thought I'd do the same as well ;)

A few days after that, I was down at Waterfront after going to Water St Café for Dine Out, so I figured I'd stop by Blenz and try their "Mint To Be". Blenz is yet another place that typically doles out reasonably good hot chocolate, but....yet another disappointment. I'm unsure if it was because this used peppermint tea, but the taste of my hot chocolate was quite watered down- in fact, it barely tasted like chocolate at all! To add to that, the mint used tasted more like spearmint than peppermint (though I could be wrong about this). You also get a mini chocolate croissant, which was okay (a bit dry), but nothing to brag about...though I've been so spoiled by Faubourg's chocolate croissants that I may be a tad biased. This cost $5.25. Bleh. They also offer one other choice.

I stopped by Beaucoup Bakery in the hopes of trying "Like Feathers & Snow", but unfortunately when I arrived on the last day it was available, I was told they had sold out :( 
I also headed to Chocolaterie De La Nouvelle France on Wednesday, but they were closed! They only list Tuesday as their production days, but when we arrived, their calendar says they also close on Wednesdays. My friend and I headed next door to Coco et Olive instead, and the lovely girl working there told us at least 5 others had encountered the same problem. 

IN SUMMARY aka tl;dr

5 STARS!!!!
  • french made baking: $4/$5.25
  • bel café: $7.10
  • thierry: $10.24
i'd go back
  • terra breads: approx. $4
  • bella gelateria: approx. $7
no way josé don't even talk to me about it
  • blenz: $5.25
  • mink chocolates: $8.40
stay tuned for an update in february! :)

You Might Also Like