Chocoholics, get ready to binge. The Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival returns this month, and it’s bigger and tastier than ever.
A total of 25 local cafes, bakeries and chocolate shops are offering up 59 crazy variations on hot chocolate over the 30-day festival, Jan. 16-Feb. 14. This marks the sixth instalment of the homegrown fest, which seeks to elevate humble hot chocolate to new heights.
Participants this year range from venerable Vancouver cafes like 49th Parallel and East Van Roasters to chocolateries like Thomas Haas and Schokolade, bakeries and patisseries like Terra Breads and Thierry and even fine restaurants like Diva at the Met. With each passing year, the festival’s “chocstars” outdo themselves with increasingly elaborate and zany takes on hot chocolate, incorporating off-the-wall ingredients, unexpected flavour combinations and even booze.
Offerings vary from location to location and also change according to date. A complete list of participants and their drinks and a handy walking map are available on the official festival website. But to get you in the mood for sipping, here are five of the most inventive and unusual hot chocolates on offer this year:
- Experience a liquid fluffernutter at Butter Baked Goods: Bring back childhood memories with The Fluffernutter, an experiment in sugar overload. White chocolate is joined with peanut butter and butterscotch, then topped with vanilla marshmallows in this inspired creation. Served with a peanut-butter marshmallow slice. Available Jan. 16-Feb. 14
- Go bananas (and get tipsy) at Bella Gelateria in Coal Harbour: The Bx3 starts with organic bananas caramelized in Grand Marnier. A touch of creme de banana liqueur, white rum and nutmeg are then blended together with fine 45-percent-dark Kayambe chocolate. Served with a slice of homemade banana bread. Available Jan. 16 – Feb. 14
- Try a distinctly Japanese take on hot chocolate at Koko Monk: The Roshamon is a genre-bending hot chocolate that pushes the line between “perception and reality,” according to its makers. White chocolate is combined with miso, matcha tea and sake to create a beverage that defies categorization. Served with a macaron. Available Jan. 16-Jan. 22
- Pair an oyster with your drink at Mink: Aptly called The Voices in My Head Tell Me This ain’t No B.S., this over-the-top beverage brings together organic butternut squash, almond milk and 70-percent dark chocolate. And, just to up the ante, it’s served with a smoked oyster. Available Jan. 16-Feb. 14
- Cake meets hot chocolate at Glenburn Soda Fountain: You love red velvet cake, why not try it in hot chocolate form? The Caught Red-Handed consists of velvety, red-tinted hot chocolate topped with whipped cream cheese and white chocolate curls. Served with a white chocolate sugar cookie. Available Jan. 16-Jan. 22 and Jan. 30-Feb. 5 (except Mondays)