Whenever we go biking in Santa Cruz, we stop for hot chocolate at a French pastry shop in Los Gatos. This tradition started several years ago, after the Chronicle raved about its French hot chocolate. I last had French hot chocolate in Paris and was missing the taste, so we went to try it out. I fell in love at the first sip. It was creamy and rich and chocolaty.
What more could I ask for? Well, we did deviate from tradition when I happened to mention our excursion to someone from Santa Cruz. She replied we should try a café there specializing in hot chocolate.
The menu listed different kinds—French, Mexican, Italian. Colombian. The drinks came in tall glasses, rather than a small mug. Although we got more hot chocolate than our usual place, I preferred our usual place.
We deviated again yesterday. I had read an article in Edible Monterey Bay about a new hot chocolate tasting room in Santa Cruz. Since we were already in Santa Cruz, it made sense to drink hot chocolate there, rather than rush to Los Gatos and hope to arrive before the store closed.
The new place is small, but offers a lot. The menu has two columns. One side lists sipping chocolate; the other lists hot chocolate. Silly me, I thought all hot chocolate was sipping chocolate because I sip it. I learned that sipping chocolate is thicker than hot chocolate and like drinking a melted bar of dark chocolate. It is also unsweetened. Hot chocolate, in contrast, has added sugar and isn’t thick.
After much careful thought on the matter, after reading about Venezuela, Ecuador, and Guatemala sipping chocolate, Mexican, Himalyan Pink Salt, and Ecuadorian hot chocolate, my boyfriend ordered the Mexican hot chocolate and I got the Venezuela sipping chocolate. I was curious about how mine would taste in relation to his. His was sweet and spicy. It was made with cayenne, after all. Mine was definitely not sweet. It was bitter, dark, and did taste like the hints of pine and oak with notes of berry, as the menu promised. There was also supposed to be a hint of citrus, but I didn’t detect it. I’m not sure the berry reached a high note, which the menu described; more like a low note. It also wasn’t thick, or at least not as thick as the Italian hot chocolate I’ve had locally.
While sipping my sipping chocolate, my organic, single origin sipping chocolate, I couldn’t help but remember that when I was a girl there were two kinds of hot chocolate to choose from—Swiss Miss Instant Cocoa and Hershey’s cocoa that my mom heated up with hot milk, the perfect treat after ice skating or sledding.
Those were the good old days, when I had my additives and preservatives and drank them, too.
Now I’ve graduated and moved onward and upward. Nothing like chocolate higher education and being chock full of haute chocolate.