If you plan to be in the City in June, July or August, here are a few hot chocolate stops that you won’t want to miss:
Empirical evidence shows that the Ferry Building Marketplace has the highest ratio of gourmet hot chocolate per square foot than any other place in San Francisco, maybe even the world. On a typical Saturday morning there are five places that you can purchase a cup of over-the-top, to-die-for, hot chocolate. Blue Bottle Coffee has three locations where you, too, can queue up for twenty minutes for your chance to order hot chocolate made with chocolate from confectioner Michael Recchiuti . Rumor has it that if your cup is not deemed perfect by the barrista it will be tossed away and a new one will be constructed.
If you would rather sit while the magic of creating a perfect cup of thick hot chocolate is performed, then Boulette's Larder is the place for you. Not quite a sidewalk café in Paris but pretty darn close. Better even. Boulette’s is more like a carefully curated culinary museum where you can eat the exhibits. Their hot chocolate tastes as though they have melted a bar or two or three of fine dark chocolate into the best organic milk you can imagine.
If you had something more quicker in mind, then Peet’s is the place for you. The line moves fast, so within 5 minutes you will have a perfectly delicious cup of hot chocolate made with Scharffen Berger dark chocolate. I know someone who then heads outside to one of the benches overlooking the bay and discreetly slips a shot or two or three of Maker’s Mark into the her cup. I doubt that you would ever tag this French Market Basket toting grand dame as a lush as she weaves her way through the aisles.
Now, if you are in Union Square there are two great choices within the same block. Crepe O Chocolat at 75 O’Farrell Street has two different hot chocolates to choose from. One is listed as ‘Homemade Hot Chocolate’ and the one that I recommend is the ‘Melted Chocolate Drink’. It might be billed as a drink but I would argue that it is just one tablespoon of hot milk short of a pudding. A few doors down at Cafe Madeleine they start their drink with a generous spoonful of ganache - a thick concoction of chocolate and heavy cream that has been whipped together – to which they add hot milk.
Mark Twain may have complained that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco but that’s only because the he didn’t know where to find a great cup of hot chocolate.
Can't get to San Francisco this summer? Then try our recipe for hot chocolate for one:
1 c milk
2 heaping T unsweetened cocoa
1 T sugar
pinch of salt
In a small saucepan, stir together ¼ c milk, cocoa, sugar & salt to form a smooth paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk. Heat over low heat until it reaches a simmer, stirring constantly. Serve in a heated porcelain tea cup. Enjoy!