For the last two weeks at work when I was asked what the craic was my response has been, “oh I had a really cool hot chocolate!” Other than the fact that it makes me sound like a slight glutton. It’s true they were highlights. Winter treats that brought you back to being a childhood scientist playing around with ingredients in your kitchen to see what concoction you could create. Well these hot chocolates did that for me and they were yummy, which didn’t always happen when you stuck sardines on a peanut butter sandwich for example.
This month is the Hot Chocolate Festival at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery. Every week for the month of August there is a different selection of hot chocolates which are voted on by the public. Some normal like salted caramel others slightly out of the ordinary such as bacon and maple syrup. This Saturday was the start of the new list and I chose an Alaskan Bomb Hot Chocolate. If you don’t know this dessert, it is a circular layer of sponge, topped with a layer of ice cream inclosed in a shell of meringue. The hot chocolate cousin was hot frothy milk with a donut shaped meringue on top which you added a pixie cup of dark melted chocolate made on site, a small scoop of berry ice cream and a homemade berry marshmallow. Mixed together you get an amazing concoction of forest fruits and dark chocolate. The shop itself is a wonderland for chocolate lovers with shelves upon shelves of variations of chocolate! You are greeted by three large sampling bowls of their dark, milk and white chocolate chips which you can sample. Not to mention it is situated in the picturesque Yarra Valley so there is a big field outside where kids of all ages, including myself, can run off the sugar that they have just consumed and say hi to the goats.
My second hot chocolate was during a foray into North Melbourne on Errol Street. We had just had brunch and Renato, who lives in the area, told us there was a cafe up the road which did amazing hot chocolates. Obviously we needed to investigate! Mörk is a bright modern minimalistic chocolate lab which specialises on hot chocolate although they do have some goodies if you fancy doubling up on your sweet intake. On arrival we were offered a glass of the complimentary sparkling vanilla water and given our clipboard menus. Decision time! There is so much to choose from – the house chocolates varying in different percentages of cocoa, chocolate shots(hot chocolate’s answer to espresso) or the deconstructed ones where you need to mix things together to create your hot chocolate. The lads chose the salted caramel and I went for the Campfire Hot Chocolate complete with smoke and a toasted marshmallow. It arrived on a wooden platter with an upside down glass filled with hickory smoke. The smell of bonfire filled the air as I quickly flipped the glass and poured in the hot chocolate so that it took on the taste of the smoke. Sprinkled in a touch of the charcoal salt and stirred it together with a toasted marshmallow. Voila I was sitting out in the wilderness over a campfire sipping hot chocolate.
Last but not least, the first hot chocolate which kicked off this trio of winter treats. A newish cafe on Hardware Street named simply after the hashtag, Hash Speciality Coffee & Roasters. Hipster yes, but well named for social media purposes and with the look of their food, which I intend to go back and try and the fun involved and tastiness of their hot chocolate, the stylishness and chilled vibe of the cafe it gets away with it complexly and utterly. We arrived and then ended waiting an hour for our third party. By this time she arrived the anticipation was almost too much! Finally after our wait was over our waiter brought over each each of us a jug of thick dark chocolate and a cup filled with a tower of wispy cotton candy. It felt like I was given a science experiment, one that creates a scrumptious edible creation! It’s like magic watching the hot chocolate melt the cotton candy and become a swirling cup of molten chocolate slightly sweeter for the floss.
It is the small things that make everyday unique and special whether it be a simple kind gesture or a hot chocolate and the last three weeks I have been have been lucky to have three unique treats. My childhood self had a field day melting cotton candy, creating a summer treat and walking through a chocolate playground. I got to have that sense of wonder which we loose or don’t get that often as adults and for that I will happily say that these, along with the company, made them highlights of my weeks.