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Best hot chocolate in Montreal?

  • m

Diet be damned! I want hot chocolate today! And if I have to trek 5 miles through the snow, even better.

I am always a huge fan of Au Festin du Babette, and their hot chocolate is no exception. They make the chocolate to order. They heat up the milk (I'm guessing whole milk) and then they grate up high quality chocolate (Valrhona) and melt it into the milk. They also add spices like chile, cardamom, cinnamon etc, depending on the type of hot chocolate you order. Not too sweet, verrrry rich. So very decadent.

So: other nominees for best hot chocolate?

I'm going to give Juliette et Chocolat a go later on today. I've been meaning to give the another chance, now that there have been some reports that good service is possible.

(It'll be carrot sticks the rest of the day. oops, did I have leftover pizza for breakfast? Dang. But I will hold off poutine for today, thanks to Lagatta for the words of common sense)

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  1. Hi Moh - really enjoy your posts. :-)

    This thread has a few recommendations: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/467684 - thought I remembered a longer thread on hot chocolate but can't find it now - must be my seive-like memory...

    Good luck on your quest and looking forward to your hot-chocolate reports!

    2 Replies
    1. re: kpzoo

      Maison Kakao - Oooh.

      MOH you are mean. So very very mean. You might just run into me there, now that you've planted the seed. Hmmm Hot Chocolate.

      I LOVE your diet plan. I think it could really work for me.

      1. re: maisonbistro

        Glad you're liking the diet plan, the butt is hating it! But your and Kpzoo's post inspired me to take a nice long healthy walk, and I made my way to Maison Cakao. (Juliette and Chocolat will be visited soon).

        What a lovely little shop! There is only one table, and on this occasion there was a gigantic chocolate chunk cookie cooling on it when we walked in. There were piles of chocolate cookies and brownies, as well as many lovely looking truffles and confections.

        The hot chocolate is kept in a large thermos/dispenser. It is slightly less viscous than the Festin product, and there is only one flavor: straight chocolate. It is served in a disposable cup, which is a shame, for as my partner says, a nice warm mug is part of the experience.

        The hot chocolate is not overly sweetened, a big plus in my books. There is a rich taste of chocolate and whole milk. The whole mixture stays well blended. It is not the completely decadent experience that some other places offer. In fact, for a good quality hot chocolate, it is one of the more refreshing versions I've tasted. Some places offer a product that is more of a dessert than a drink. This is more like a real beverage.

        All in all, I think this hot chocolate is a steal for $2.80 a cup. It is really excellent. I'll definitely drop by again when I am in the neighbourhood. But if you are in the camp who prefers sinfully rich hot chocolate, then this is close, but not there.

        Gotta love being in a city where one can quibble about good quality hot chocolate!

        Now come on folks, I'm on a diet! I'll need help reviewing the different hot chocolates! Welcome all comments and suggestions.

    2. I had a very rich and spicy hot Chocolate at (if I recollect correctly) Decca 88 on St. Denis. (Please correct me if i got the name wrong). It is just near L'Express.

      Also for the price, the super cheap hot Chocolate at the Chocolatier at Jean Talon market is a fair bet. Some days it is richer than others.

      If you happen to be at Marche Kim Po on Victoria and they have any stock, in the back right freezer that have batons of Alfonso's Hot Chocolate - Chocolate Espanol from the Philippines. This stuff is awesome.

      I would sell my mother for this stuff.

      7 Replies
      1. re: fedelst1

        It's Suite 88. They have several flavours - around the holidays they have candy cane hot chocolate (my son's favourite) among others. It's sinfully good...now I'm craving a hot chocolate...I may have to take one for the team this time and try one this weekend.
        BTW, speaking of blown diets, when does Cocoa Locale reopen?

        1. re: cherylmtl

          She's back at the end of the month, beginning of Feb. I think she said she was taking off all of January. Countdown has begun.

          I'm in such withdrawal that I'm flying back to the Peg and will gorge on Baked Expectation cakes to make up for my loss. They are still great! Who knows, perhaps we'll even find a Banana Jeanne's cake to drag back east....

          1. re: moh

            I think the sign on the door says that it will reopen Jan. 31st. I was there a week ago, hoping to buy a cake for my girlfriend's birthday... what a disappointment.

          2. re: cherylmtl

            I highly recommanded suite 88 www.suite88.com
            the chocolate is divine :


            and also Chocolats Geneviève Grandbois

            1. re: myamata

              Suite 88 is on my short list of places to hit next...I may have to take a little hiatus from my tastings, but will try to get there soon...

          3. re: fedelst1

            This Alphonso's stuff... very intriguing... so it is a frozen product and you defrost it? The thought of chocolate Espagnol is very tempting. I still recall those great chocolate and churros meals in Barcelona...

            1. re: moh

              I suspect that it is not usually frozen, as it is a tube of solid tablets of chocolate. It could be that the reason it is in the freezer might be more tradition than necessity in Canada. Perhaps in the Philippines the Alfonso's chocolate is in the freezer to avoid spoilage or bloom due to heat.

              This comes full circle to my quest for Chocolate and churros that I have been searching for.

              The tablets have a similar gritty feel as Mexican hot chocolate, but the flavor is better.

          4. I had a wicked rich Valrhona hot chocolate at Laloux. It was served with 2 passionfruit marshmallows. Perhaps they serve the same one at Pop. It was about 3$.
            My favourite hot chocolate EVER, was at this coffee shop in Banff where the drink was topped with chocolate whipped cream. Why can't anyone do that here?

            5 Replies
            1. re: Venusia

              Go to your local grocer, I saw the other week at IGA on Notre Dame in St. Henri, Chocolate Rediwhip.You know that aerosol stuff in the dairy section.

              What will they think of next.... powdered orange beverage mix for astronauts or something? Oh, how about canned aerosol cheese spread!!!!

              1. re: fedelst1

                Hmm... I was thinking more around the lines of cocoa powder mixed into whipped cream. The one I was served was housemade, served straight out of a stainless steel syphon.

                1. re: Venusia

                  Can I ask about the passionfruit marshmallows? They sound great! Are they marshmallows with PF flavour? And is the flavour really obvious?

                  1. re: moh

                    They are homemade marshmallows with a passionfruit flavour. The flavour, IMO, was immediately identifiable. Be warned, they pack a serious sugar punch.

                    1. re: Venusia

                      So, you're saying they'll fit right in with the rest of my diet? Mental note, will have to walk to South Shore and back to indulge here...

                      Thanks for the tip! Passion Fruit maybe one of my favorite flavours in the world!

            2. FYI: hot chocolate in Montreal will be discussed shortly on CBC Radio 1, on Home Run here in Mtl. They'll be talking with Cat(herine) MacPherson, who's filling in for Maeve Haldane (with Karpati) reviewing restos over at the Hour. Or listen on the Web here: http://www.cbc.ca/homerun/

              Edit: they've already posted the list of all places they're talking about, along with a recipe:
              http://www.cbc.ca/homerun/recipes.html -> see Jan.29, 2008 - HOT HOT CHOCOLATE

              2 Replies
              1. re: kpzoo

                Looks like they have all the main places covered. What a shame I'm in Winnipeg (-26 degrees celcius, something crazy with wind chills), I won't be able to hear the broadcast. Could really use a cuppa here... I'll try the webcast.

                1. re: moh

                  The broadcast is over - they did some taste tests, nothing earth-shatteringly new. Stay warm out there in The Peg!

              2. Very happy to back in this very temperate climate after -45 degree weather with wind chill in Winnipeg. And very happy to be back on the hot chocolate hunt!

                Today: Genevieve Grandbois, the wonderful little chocolate shop on St. Viateur. The hot chocolate comes in one flavour, pure chocolate. It is served in a beautiful metal mug the size of an expresso cup. The temperature is perfect, not too hot and ready to drink. The chocolate is thick and creamy, and minimally sweetened. The focus here is completely on the chocolate, which is worthy of all the attention. When you finish your cup, you are just at the border between satisfaction and need for more. As my friend commented, a lot of places serve hot chocolate that are too decadent to indulge in regularly, whereas here you could happily come in every day! This is a delicious hot chocolate, and reasonable at $2.75 plus tax per cup. But this is a place that you come in for your chocolate fix, shoot it back, and leave. It is not a place to linger and hang out over a cup of steaming HC, chatting about life and love and all things edible. And if you want volume, this is not the place to go. Just about as guilt-free as you can get in hot chocolate for those of us forced to think about portion control!

                BTW, also had some of their caramel au fleur de sel which is cooked to a hard candy stage like a peanut brittle then partially dunked in dark chocolate. This is like a very high quality Skor bar without any of the annoying sweetness to take away from the marvelous flavours of caramel, salt and chocolate. Dear Phedre, I know you want it to stop, but I must admit I am still a huge sucker for caramel and fleur de sel, and will happily continue to support their ubiquitous presence in our fair city. You just need to spend a few days in a city without it to realize it is better with it than without it!!

                I know I'll finally get to Juliette et Chocolat soon....

                4 Replies
                1. re: moh

                  "This is like a very high quality Skor bar without any of the annoying sweetness to take away from the marvelous flavours of caramel, salt and chocolate."

                  This sounds amazing. Skor is perhaps my favorite commercial candy bar, and I can't wait to try the caramel fleur de sel interpretation. Drool...

                  1. re: moh

                    Damn damn DAMN. I went to GG the other day and didn't know about the hot chocolate. I know where I'm going tomorrow if they're open!

                    And if you're a fan of caramel au fleur de sel, Juliette et Chocolat makes a molten chocolate cake with a salty caramel heart served with a scoop of chocolate ice cream that will make you cry.

                    1. re: phedre

                      Phedre, I hate you for recommending the molten chocolate cake with salty caramel. I will have to walk up and down the mountain at least twice to burn off the calories.

                      But was it worth it? Oh yeah!

                    2. re: moh

                      Ok yes, GG does have FANTASTIC hot chocolate! I love the tiny serving size - it's perfect. I also picked up some of the toffee pieces - skor only wishes it was this tasty.

                      And to top it all off, they gave me a free "goodie bag" with three of their chocolates in it! I am one happy chocolate fan.

                    3. re: Skor bar:

                      Be very careful Emerilcantcook! You may never go back to Skor...

                      1. Next up: Juliette and Chocolat! Finally got there!

                        First of all, I will state that we had excellent service today. I had previously been frustrated by poor service when buying chocolates there. Other posters had commented in the past that service was poor. Today, service was prompt, attentive and amiable. Yay!

                        Second: the hot chocolate. The choices are by far the best I've seen in the city or anywhere for that matter. You can get "regular" hot chocolate a l'ancienne (very thick hot chocolate, about $5) or you can get it thinned out with hot milk. You can get it extra dark, dark, milk or white chocolate. And if you are willing to spend the big bucks, you can get Grand Cru chocolate, many different varieties (about $8.75).

                        I tried the dark chocolate Grand Cru Manjari a l'ancienne, my friend had the milk chocolate Grand Cru Jivari a l'ancienne. Both were served in a large wine glass, one of the big bowls that one associates with Reidel burgundy glasses, with a spoon. These were not small servings! And each bowl of chocolate came with a small truffle on the side. Can we say decadence?

                        The tasting note for the dark choclate Manari mentioned the flavour of berries, and it was spot on. The dark chocolate was smooth, slightly bitter, and afterwards, you were left with the taste of berries long after you had finished the hot chocolate. The quality of the chocolate was top-notch. The hot chocolate was very thick, and reminded me of hot chocolate I had tasted in Barcelona. In fact, I was bemoaning the fact that they did not serve churros, as this would have been perfect hot chocolate for dipping churros or bananas, or fresh strawberries. The downside is that the texture was occasionally marred by the presence of blobs of thickening agent that were not blended into the drink perfectly, so as a drink, it was a bit less successful than some of the other hot chocolates I have tried. This was more sauce-like than beverage-like.

                        My friend's milk chocolate Jivari was more successful. It is sweeter than the dark chocolate, but has a wonderful creaminess that can only be found in high end milk chocolate. If you like milk chocolate, then this is the hot chocolate for you! It seemed better blended than the dark chocolate.

                        Both of the servings were huge, and my friend and I decided you could easily share one portion. This is good, because, this is one of the more expensive hot chocolates in town ($8.75 per glass). The serving is way too big for one person alone, and if you have it by yourself, it would be hard to indulge in any of the other wonderful looking chocolate desserts (like their rocky road brownie, or the fleur de sel brownie. We just couldn't do it!)

                        And the really good news? My doc just told me that chocolate is good for me! YAY! The hot chocolate quest is now medically sanctioned! Can life get better?

                        1. Despite zeppole overload, I had to try the hot chocolate at Suite 88, as I happened to be in there buying some of their lovely Shooters and Dome chocolates for a gift. (These are really lovely gift chocolates, very interesting flavours and very aesthetic presentation. I am a huge fan of the lychee flavours! But I digress...)

                          I have been told that the hot chocolate here is very intense, and it lives up to the hype. I decided to try the dark chocolate "Intense" drink. I saw them prepare it, and it is very intense. First, the lady asked if I wanted whipped cream on top. I declined. Then she pulled out some whipping cream from the fridge. I'm thinking "wait, didn't I ask for no whipped cream?". She pours it in a cup, and I realize she is using it to make the hot chocolate! Oh dear... They have a hot water bath holding several different squirt bottles of melted chocolate, and she used quite a lot of the dark chocolate syrup to top up the glass of whipping cream. Then she froths the whole thing on the milk frother on the expresso machine to heat it up. I am very glad I didn't take the extra whipped cream on top! The hot chocolate is rich, and sweeter than some of the other cups you can get around town. To the credit of the recipe, you can't actually tell you are drinking whipping cream, and had I not seen them pour it with my own eyes, I would not have known. The flavour of the chocolate is very good, but it doesn't have as long a finish as the chocolate from Festin or Genevieve Grandbois. The sweetness starts to overpower the chocolate after a while. The serving size is generous, and it is hard to finish the whole thing by yourself, it is better to share this drink. So if you share it, it is a pretty good price at $4.00 per cup (plus tax, $4.50).

                          If the thought of drinking whipping cream makes you shake in your knees, you can get the regular Hot chocolate, which is made with whole milk. You also have the choice of milk or dark chocolate, and can also choose amongst flavours like chile, pumpkin and I believe candy cane flavour.

                          Whew! Will have to hold off trying a Peep. I may have to go savoury for the next week or so...

                          1. I had the Pedraza hot chocolate at Festin de Babette the other day. It's a thicker, more consistent spanish-style chocolate - almost the churro-dippin' kind. It was fantastic.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mainsqueeze

                              Yeah, that's one of my favorites. Half tempted to fry up some churros and bring them in to have with it. Very smooth despite the thick texture. I also love the Piment D'espelette hot chocolate they have there.

                            2. Here moh, another place to add to your crawl: http://www.patisserieharnois.ca/index... Speaking of, I've never seen this place mentionned on this board. Does anyone know anything about it.
                              I saw a segment on a à la Di Stasio DVD, where she tried his hot chocolate. Only available on weekends, apparently.

                              1. Volver on Parc near St.Viateur is a nice new spot that serves a yummy hot chocolate. They bring you a mug of steaming milk and a length of chocolate tablet. You can eat a little chocolate and then stir in the rest to make your own....a great place to take your time ....

                                1. We're almost at the end of hot chocolate season - good because it means it's spring, bad because, well, hot chocolate... end? :( I know the writing is on the wall for this season because when I went into Festin de Babette, Martine mentioned that they were starting to put in the ice cream equipment! So this may be the last of the entries for this year.

                                  I was in the neighbourhood, and I felt a craving for a cup of chocolate, so I went in for one of my favorites, the Euskaria hot chocolate at Festin du Babette. They have a new Electra expresso machine, and Martine the owner is very pleased with it. For the Euskaria, they foam milk with shaved 67% chocolate and sprinkle in Piment d'Espelette. Because they use the expresso machine, the hot chocolate gets a nice topping of milk foam. You can choose whole milk (the default) or if you want healthier, you can substitute 2% milk (but of course there will be less foam). The chocolate is rich, but not overly sweet. The best part is the piment d"Espelette. They do not skimp on this spice, and so there is a very warming spicy burn on the back of your throat the whole time you are sipping your chocolate. The spice acts as a wonderful complement to the richness and sweetness of the chocolate, giving it depth and character. This is one of my favorite ways to drink chocolate! $4.25 for a nice size cup. If you don't like hot spice, you can get other flavours of hot chocolate instead. YUM!

                                  (now the good thing about ice cream season: I love the Cafe Raphael here. They mix an expresso and vanilla ice cream to give a creamy soft ice cream dessert that is light but packs a wallop of coffee love.)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: chocofab

                                    I've had the Cafe Myriade hot chocolate straight out of the stirring machine thingy, and it was really delicious, not too sweet, thick but not cloying, rich chocolate flavour. Really decadent, yet easy to suck back. I've also had the chocolate in the cafe mocha, and when you combine Soma chocolate with Myriade espresso, it is an astounding thing.

                                    I would also agree the hot chocolate at Chocolaterie Suisse is excellent. They have a nice selection, and the one I had a few months ago was rich, smooth and delicious. And it is fun to sit and drink chocolate surrounded by hundreds of clocks.

                                  2. Juliette et Chocolat have the best one, hands down!