Where to get a hot beverage.
It’s the back half of the week, and I have to say, for a week in January, it’s been a pretty warm one. I would say this is the January thaw, but since there hasn’t actually been much of a freeze, I don’t think it qualifies. Still, there have been some icy cold days, giving me the opportunity to indulge in one of my favorite winter beverages: hot chocolate. Not that you can’t drink it other times of the year, but really, there’s nothing like a steaming cup of cocoa with whipped cream – or marshmallows, for those of you who like a heavier coating on top – while looking at the frosty coldness outside.
In that vein, I thought I would – for the sake of our readership – take on the onerous task of taste-testing the various hot chocolates for sale here in town. It’s just one of the many sacrifices I’m willing to make to bring you the latest and greatest information.
To do this, I went to four local businesses that don’t necessarily advertise the fact that they carry hot chocolate, meaning you might not think to go there. This left out Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks, both of which offer several varieties of the liquid chocolate, such as peppermint and mocha, and all of which is delicious. But you already know that.
So where did I go? Well, first I checked out Main Streets Market & Café in Concord Center. I found their flavoring sweet, creamy and smooth. Interestingly, they were the only one of the four that makes their hot chocolate with water and not milk, which might be why it was hotter than the others to start.
Next I tried Nashoba Brook Bakery in West Concord; their hot chocolate was nicely sweet with a slightly smokey flavor. Like the other two purveyors who use milk, their milk was steamed and added to the chocolate, and you can choose skim, whole, or 2% milk, soymilk, or even light cream. Personally, I go for the whole milk; I think it just tastes better. But nice to know you have a choice. Concord Teacakes’ cocoa tasted a bit lighter than the others but still sweet, and their milk choices include skim, 2% and whole.
Now, both Nashoba Brook and Concord Teacakes use a cocoa powder with sugar. Reasons to Be Cheerful does it a bit differently: not only do they have cocoa powder and sugar, but they also use Callebaut dark chocolate, which gives a more chocolatey taste. And their whipped cream is homemade.
I had actually stopped in to RTBC to try their hot chocolate ice cream – yes you heard that right. It’s chocolate ice cream with a kick. So if you like your hot chocolate on the cold side, you might want to check this out.
All in all, every hot chocolate I tried – and yes, I tried them all – was quite yummy. It really comes down to personal preference. Meaning you may need to do your own survey.
If hot chocolate isn’t your cup of tea…
Right around the holidays, when I talked about taking a break from the holiday madness, I mentioned afternoon tea at the Colonial Inn, available every weekend. Well, on Fridays and Saturdays from Feb. 3 to March 31, you can get tea and sweets at the Concord Museum. I’ve done this tea before: tables are set up in Brooke Hall, and it’s a lovely and relaxing way to end your week. Local company Tea Forte provides the tea, and the sweets come from artisan bakeries in Greater Boston. Seatings are at 1:30 and 3 p.m., and the cost includes admission to the museum. You do need a reservation, which you can make by calling 978-369-9763. For complete information on both the teas and the special Tea Time Conversation with an Expert Chef, check out their website here and scroll down to the February listings.
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