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The Best Cups of Hot Chocolate in the Country

Cozy up with cocoa at these top cafes and coffee shops from coast to coast.

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Hot Cocoa 2.0

Like many seemingly simple foods and drinks, hot chocolate has seen an upgrade. Pastry chefs and learned chocolatiers have carefully selected cacao beans from small farms around the equator, making these cups of cocoa mind-blowing, and addictive, masterpieces.

Photo by Anthony Tahlier for Mindy's Hot Chocolate, Chicago

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Photo: Jennifer Marx

Chicago: Cocoa + Co

In addition to the array of handcrafted bon bons that Cocoa + Co. curates from chocolatiers around the country, the shop prepares a selection of intense hot chocolate creations to order. Options include the Moroccan, with 13 different spices, and the Classic Dark, a menu stalwart, which owner Kim Hack describes as "American cocoa on steroids." All of the drinking chocolates incorporate whole beans, allowing for the cocoa butter to create a rich, mouth-coating feel. Try it in the Parisian, which uses 64 percent single-origin chocolate from Ecuador with a hint of vanilla. The most-chocolatey option is The Fix, an off-menu blend of dense, liquid chocolate cut with a dash of half-and-half to make it drinkable.

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New York City: Dominique Ansel

Chef Dominique Ansel can take the simplest of sweets and turn reinvent it. Hot chocolate is no exception. Ansel incorporates whimsical design into his Blossoming Hot Chocolate: The marshmallow is held together with a thin layer of white chocolate, but once it hits the warm liquid, the marshmallow flower "blooms" revealing a little chocolate bonbon surprise inside. The Blossoming Hot Chocolate is offered year-round, but come Black Friday, fans can procure DIY mix. There’s no need to use a pot; simply pour hot milk into the bottle, close the cap, gently shake.

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Photo: The Gauge Collective

Chicago: Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea

A recent addition to Michigan Avenue, Fairgrounds Coffee & Tea serves a wide variety of coffee beans from third-wave roasters like Portland’s Stumptown, Seattle’s Vittoria, Minneapolis’ Spyhouse and Australia’s Toby’s Estate. For cacao-based drinks, the team turned to the Windy City’s pioneering, genre-expanding chocolatier, Vosges. Fairgrounds mixes pure Vosges La Parsienne Ground Chocolate with whole milk and heavy cream which mingles for an entire 12 hours before it’s steamed in the espresso machine. The result is a frothy, rich and smooth cup that’s garnished with a chocolate-covered coconut-caramel marshmallow. Eat the marshmallow off the skewer or, for an extra dose of decadence, drop it into the liquid and let it melt.

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