Quest for the perfect hot chocolate

Published 11:55 am Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Last December, the week before Christmas, I visited New York City. My boyfriend, ever so lovingly, Googled “Best Hot Chocolate in NYC,” and may I unapologetically say that it was the best hot chocolate that has ever graced my lips? 

Let me explain. It was a cold, rainy December night, and we were headed to the Bronx for a Christmas event. On our way, we popped into a corner café called Bar Pisellino on the corner of Grove and Seventh. (I’m compelled to add that it was literally one block away from the Friends apartment, but I won’t). 

With my gloved hands wrapped around the to-go cup of hot chocolate, my expectations were exceeded. The chocolate was liquid velvet. The texture was smooth and thick, slow to pour from the rim of the cup. The flavor, it was true and European; not too sweet, not too bitter.

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It was one of the most intimate moments I’ve ever had with a beverage.

Dear diary: Nearly a year after my first encounter with the most delicious drink I’ve ever had, I produced a captivating thought. “What if I just… make it at home? Like, from a recipe I find online?” 

I had just gotten out of a nice, long bath at 8:30 Thursday night and snuggled up in my pajamas. I walked downstairs, plopped onto our fluffy white chair, and guess what’s on the television? A cooking show, demonstrating the art of making hot chocolate. 

I got what southern folks might call “an itch in my get along” and looked up a recipe online for that amazing hot chocolate. I found one and declared proudly that I was going to drive to Ingles, get the ingredients and consume this drink all before 9:30 p.m.

I lured my entire family in the car to go with me, then came home, and within the hour I had done it––I had made the best hot chocolate in the entire world. 

As I stirred the mixture in a pot on the stove, I requested from my dad in a British accent (the moment called for one) that he collect the Christmas china from our cabinet in the dining room for this important occasion.

Since my mom wasn’t a fan of this exquisite hot chocolate, my dad and I drank all of it. Not a drop left behind. Seriously, I looked over and he was licking the cup and then the ladle. 

When it was all over and the chocolate was gone, I lifted my Christmas teacup in the air and presented my “thank you” speech in the living room. 

“I just want to thank Dad, who volunteered to go with me to the store and appreciated the gift that is hot chocolate. And Mom, I want to thank you for your support, no matter your distaste. And I want to thank New York City, for introducing me to this life-changing drink,” I declared.

My speech did not generate an applause from them, but I promised that I will be competing with Mom on Christmas Day to see whose hot chocolate wins among the family…