A tablespoon of cocoa powder, glossy ganache or curls of grated single-origin chocolate - there are many ways to make a hot chocolate, but what's the trick to creating a great one? Below is a round-up of the best products and tips from those in the know.
(Pictured above, anti-clockwise from top: Grounded Pleasures Straight Up Cocoa; Cacao Barry's Venezuela Origin dark couverture, Josophan's chocolate bombs; Mörk Original Dark 70%)
Marcus Allison is well versed in the art of hot chocolate. The owner of Heirloom Chocolate, he started out selling hot chocolate from a small market stall and now owns two Brisbane cafés and a chocolate-importing company. His secret? Grated chocolate. "It's impossible to beat real chocolate melted with milk," says Allison. He suggests steaming half a cup of grated chocolate with a cup of milk and finishing it with an extra sprinkle of chocolate. And temperature is a factor, too. "The perfect temperature for hot chocolates is 60 degrees - hot, but not too hot."
Heirloom Chocolate, $12.50 for 250gm, available at Brisbane's John Mills Himself, johnmillshimself.com.au, and Bunker Coffee, bunkercoffee.com.au
Made from Venezuelan cocoa beans blended in North Melbourne by a Swede and a South Australian, Mörk has quickly become the preferred chocolate powder of baristas across Australia - you'll find it at Reuben Hills in Sydney, Monday's Coffee in Adelaide and the Ona cafés in Canberra among others. The team at Ona suggests steaming a cup of milk with a large tablespoon of the Original Dark to make "delicious chocolate milk".
Mörk Original Dark 70%, $22 for 250gm. morkchocolate.com.au
For the team at Sydney's Kakawa, ganache is the way to go. Theirs is made using 62 per cent Valrhona dark chocolate. Director of Sydney's Boon Café, Palisa Anderson, is on board. "We use Kakawa's dark ganache in all our chocolate drinks - hot, iced and frappés," she says. "They're all made with fresh full-cream milk and a healthy dose of ganache."
Kakawa ganache hot chocolate, $8 for 150gm, available at Kakawa, 147 William St, Darlinghurst, NSW, kakawachocolates.com.au
Cacao Barry is known for producing award-winning chocolate. And their line of single-origin chocolates, made from beans imported from countries such as Cuba, Ghana and Mexico, make distinctly flavoured hot chocolates. If you use the 72 per cent Venezuelan, for example, you might pick up notes of woodiness and red wine. They suggest heating a cup of milk to 70 degrees and combining it with 40gm of chocolate.
Cacao Barry Venezuela Origin dark couverture, $30 for 1kg. savourschool.com.au
Black Gold Cacao
Frank Velásquez, owner of Black Gold Cacao, makes his chocolate powder from raw cacao imported from his family farm in Venezuela. The team at Sydney's Edition Coffee Roasters thinks it makes the perfect hot chocolate. "Our recipe is super-simple: one and a half teaspoons with 175ml of milk. Steam. Serve," says Edition's Daniel Jackson. "It keeps them coming back."
Black Gold Cacao Premium Chocolate Powder, $12 for 150gm, available from tobysestate.com.au
Clockwise from top: Haigh's Premium Drinking Chocolate; Bahen & Co's tablet (under knife); Hunted + Gathered Drinking Chocolate.
Bahen & Co
While Josh Bahen was making wine in Burgundy he stumbled across a fifth-generation chocolate producer. He then moved back to Western Australia, changed careers and launched Bahen & Co with his wife Jacqui. Their chocolate "tablet" - 750gm of single-origin chocolate - is perfect for quick hot drinks. "Dissolve 25gm of the tablet in a shot of boiling water and add 200ml of steamed milk," says Bahen. "It's very simple, but the flavour profile is like no other."
Bahen & Co 70% Single Origin Tablet, $39 for 750gm. bahenchocolate.com
Founded in 1915, Haigh's is the oldest family-owned chocolate producer in Australia. The Adelaide factory makes more than 250 varieties, one of which is their rich and sweet drinking chocolate. They suggest mixing three heaped teaspoonfuls with a few drops of boiling water, adding it to hot milk and serving it with a marshmallow.
Haigh's Premium Drinking Chocolate, $14.40 for 225gm. haighschocolates.com.au
Hunted + Gathered
Hot sauce, jerky and chocolate? Yes, Melbourne's Hunted + Gathered sell an odd mix of products, but they know how to make a good cup of cocoa. Their drinking chocolate, which is served at Melbourne's Everyday Coffee and Green Park Dining, has hit retail shelves for the first time. It's 70 per cent dark chocolate made from Dominican Republic cacao and sweetened with coconut sugar.
Hunted + Gathered Drinking Chocolate, $20 for 250gm. huntedandgathered.com.au
Craig McKenzie, co-owner of Grounded Pleasures, moved from coffee to cocoa beans to explore the world of hot chocolate. Together with his business partner, Sophie Welton, he makes drinking chocolate flavoured with the likes of peppermint oil from the south of France, Papua New Guinean vanilla beans and Australian dried chilli. McKenzie suggests heating 200ml of milk with a heaped tablespoonful of drinking chocolate, either on the stove or with a steam wand, and topping the drink with more chocolate. He's not against marshmallows either.
Grounded Pleasures Straight Up Cocoa, $13.90 for 150gm. groundedpleasures.com.au
Spheres of gold-flecked dark chocolate filled with powdered and flaked chocolate - this is not your average hot cocoa. Josophan's chocolates are handcrafted in Leura in the Blue Mountains from fair-trade certified Belgian chocolate. Simply drop the bombs into a mug of hot milk and stir until combined. See your doctor if pain persists.
Josophan's Hot Chocolate Bombs, $12.95 for two. josophans.com.au