Hot Chocolate at Mozarts, Austin, USA

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Austin is a fabulous city. I wish I could spend more time there. If I could, I would become a regular at Mozart’s Coffee Roasters and Bakery. Not so much for the Coffee Roasters part however….or for the bakery (although they do have some delicious looking goodies and a good pumpkin pie).

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First I would become a regular because Mozart’s has the best terrace I have seen in a long time. They have several huge wooden decks, surrounded by giant oak trees, allowing you to sit right along the bank of Lake Austin. Despite a large number of tables being taken over by university students studying on their computers, there were still plenty of tables for the rest of us and the weather was perfect, not just to sit outside, but to enjoy a warm drink…a hot chocolate perhaps?

“Do they have a hot chocolate?” is always my first question. To answer this, Rich went inside to check and came back a few minutes later. They don’t have one hot chocolate…they have a whole menu of hot chocolates! What is this? Could it be true that we have, just by chance, stumbled on a spot with a beautiful terrace and a menu of hot chocolates?!

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Here are the options; the standard hot chocolate is made from steamed milk and Monin dark chocolate sauce, and along with a White chocolate, a Mexican Hot Chocolate and a Hazelnut Hot Chocolate, are offered everyday on their fall menu. As if that wasn’t enough, they had another menu, a hot chocolate menu, which offered 6 other Here are the options; the standard hot chocolate is made from steamed milk and Monin dark chocolate sauce, and along with a White chocolate, a Mexican Hot Chocolate and a Hazelnut Hot Chocolate, are offered everyday on their fall menu. As if that special hot chocolates. There was the Pecan Pie White Hot chocolate which combines pecan pie flavour with white chocolate and caramel sauce. Peppermint Hot Chocolate was a combination of peppermint syrup, steamed milk and dark chocolate sauce. After Dinner Mint Hot Chocolate was minty green and chocolately goodness. There was a seasonal eggnog hot chocolate with eggnog flavour, steamed milk and white chocolate sauce, and last but not least you have the one I ordered, Pumpkin Spice hot chocolate with pumpkin spice, dark chocolate and steamed milk.

I loved my Pumpkin Spice hot chocolate. It had a warm pumpkin flavour, like fresh pie, with that little kick from the pumpkin spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. If that wasn’t enough to give me my pumpkin fix, I paired it with a piece of warm pumpkin pie with vanilla icecream on top.

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Verdict: I loved Mozart. Any place that has a hot chocolate menu deserves 5 stars…even more so when they have such interesting seasonal flavours. Mozart’s 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, United States.

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Hot Chocolate from Delysia, Austin, USA

IMG_2424You may remember about a year ago I did a review of a new spot that opened up in Austin Texas called the Hillside Pharmacy. The place was beautiful, but the hot chocolate left a lot to be desired! At the time I was told that they used Delysia Hot Chocolate but I suspected that something wasn’t quite right. The wonderful folks at Delysia read my blog and subsequently sent me a container full of their Lavender Hot Chocolate so I could judge for myself, and that is exactly what I did today.

Delysia is a chocolate company based in Austin Texas. They make truffles, and pretty much everything you can imagine made out of chocolate including of course hot chocolate. The owner, Nicole Patel is an engineer turned chocolatier which gives me hope that perhaps one day my engineer husband might too see the light and start a hot chocolate company. Obviously this is a good career move!

So Delysia makes two kinds of hot chocolate, lavender and cayenne (they even make their own vanilla or champagne marshmallows but unfortunately I didn’t have any on hand….the pictures of them on the website look incredible). I made myself a cup of the lavender, the first time I have ever had a lavender hot chocolate. What a great combination!

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The recipe calls for 3-4 teaspoons of the powder mixed into a mug of hot milk. I added an extra teaspoon because my mug is pretty big. This makes a nice light hot chocolate but if you want it a bit richer I found adding 1-2 more teaspoons makes it even more luxurious. The lavender is nice and subtle. At first it is quite intriguing, you can smell it a little and it smells exactly like the beautiful lavender plant I have growing on my balcony.  The lavender taste is subtle, which is good, and makes this very easy to drink. Between the smell of lavender and the taste of milk chocolate I find it very calming. This little container should get me through the first month of 2013 easily!

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Verdict: Who would have thought that lavender and chocolate would go together….but they do…and really well! Even my ginger cat Colby was intrigued by the smell. Definitely worth a try, either at home (you can buy their products online) or in one of the growing number of coffee shops across Austin (and I suspect further away too) that will prepare it for you. www.delysia.com

Hot Chocolate at Easy Tiger, Austin, USA

I love a lot of things about Easy Tiger. I love that it is in Austin (but wish it was closer to where I live!). I love that it is called Easy Tiger (what a great name). I love the décor which is warm, fun and inviting. I love that it has a duel personality. Upstairs is the bakery which serves an incredible array of baguettes and pretzels. Downstairs is a fantastic looking beer garden that serves countless beers , cured meats and sausages (All made in house). There is also a fantastic terrace outside just along a little river where in between beers you can also play table tennis on one of 2 tables. I love that everything is made fresh and that from the counter in the bakery you can watch the baker making and baking fresh bread. I ordered a pain au chocolate and it brought me right back to Paris. It was absolutely delicious.

The only thing I don’t like about Easy Tiger is the hot chocolate which, I am so sad to say, really wasn’t that great. It was just a very sweet drink and I only took a few sips before I decided to just focus on my incredible pain au chocolate instead. Rich had an expresso and loved it so it seems the only fault we could find (other than that there is only one Easy Tiger) was the hot chocolate.

Verdict: If I lived in Austin this is where you would find me at all hours of the day, not with a hot chocolate, but with a huge plate of pain au chocolate and cured meats. Easy Tiger, 709 East Sixth Street, Austin

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Hot Chocolate at Halcyon, Austin, USA

I saw Halcyon in a guidebook I have on Austin. It said to stop here after walking down 6th street and before exploring the Warehouse District. So we did and wow what a find.  The place is lively and full. There are comfy red and yellow sofas in the corners and an extensive collection of sparkly pictures of celebrities covering the walls.

I take a look at the menu and as usual they have one hot chocolate. Ok, decision made but I decide to take a look at the rest of the menu to see what else they offer. My heart skipped several beats. There on the front page is a whole section dedicated to Gourmet Hot Chocolates. Can this be true? They have two versions. You can have the classic gourmet hot chocolates which include French, Mexican, White Peppermint, Peanutbutter or Bittersweet Caramel. They also have adult versions of the hot chocolate where you can take the class version and add a twist, chocolate vodka, tia maria, peppermint schnapps etc.

I have to hand it to Halcyon, not only did they make my day but it is really something to have all these hot chocolates when they aren’t a specialty store or a sweet/dessert shop, they are a bar/lounge. Now just when I thought I had recovered from this pleasant shock I had another one. The table next to us had this strange black metal thing on their table with a fire in it and chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers around it. Yes, at Halcyon they also have ‘make your own smores’ platters for 2 or 4 people where you can sit there and melt your marshmallow and eat it with chocolate and crackers. What a smart idea.

My hot chocolate was over the top. It came in the biggest mug I have ever seen, basically a bowl with a handle (this is Texas after all…). It was topped with whipped cream and chocolate swirls and came with two animal crackers ( I got a rhinoceros and a camel). I loved the animal crackers, such a fun idea and actually went really well with the hot chocolate.  I ordered the Mexican hot chocolate which was nice. I drank and enjoyed half the cup, but it was just too  big for me to finish. I dare you to finish one!

Verdict: Halcyon obviously has a very smart chocolate lover on their team. I would love to meet whoever that is and thank them. I will be back. Halcyon, 218 W. 4th Street, Austin, USA

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Hot Chocolate at Book People, Austin, USA

I love book stores. They are magical places full of colours and inspiration. I could (and do) spend hours and hours going through the shelves, sitting in corners turning the pages of interesting looking books. They are slightly more rare but I love independent bookstores even more and Book People in Austin is just that, and a beautiful one too. It has been the leading independent bookstore in Texas since 1970.

The coffee shop at Book People’s is called interestingly enough, Coffee Shop. It is tucked in the far right corner on the ground floor. Behind the counter is a row of clear glass containers filled with different kinds of tea and a whole range of different coffees. They have one hot chocolate which says milk + cacao + vanilla + spices. I order one.  I’m surprised that for being such an environmentally conscious city it is given to me in a paper cup (blah). I find the taste and smell of the cardboard overpowers the hot chocolate. The hot chocolate is just ok, very subtle in flavour but I enjoyed sitting there watching people exploring the store. It is 11am on a Monday and the place is buzzing (do people work in Austin?)

Two men at a table nearby are playing chess while a third man at the same table is talking non stop, never taking a breath as he jumps from talking about philosophers to gossip to the latest Austin bands. A couple discuss whether it would be more interesting to live in Russia or China while looking through books they picked up from the travel section.

Verdict: If you are in Austin this book store is worth a visit and while you are deciding which book to buy, grab a drink at the coffee shop. The hot chocolate is fine but they also have a really interesting range of other drinks, in particular teas and coffees. Book People, 603 N. Lamar, Austin, USA

Hot Chocolate at Magnolia Cafe, Austin, USA

After a mountain bike race, all one wants to do is eat so we were looking for something fast, filling and cheap but still cute and charming. Magnolia Café was perfect. This little café is very cute, partially because the décor is as random as you can get. Our tablecloth is African inspired, there is a skeleton of a dinosaur hanging from the ceiling, red neon squiggles on the far wall. We arrived at 4pm on a Saturday and I think the staff where exhausted from a busy brunch service because our waitress didn’t seem too keen.

The hot chocolate came in the heaviest white ceramic mug I have ever seen. I loved the mug and the hot chocolate inside was pretty nice too. Very simple, a little sweet but not too much.

It was the appetizer to our massive post ride meal which included pasta, lentil soup, cornbread and a couple of Magnolia’s popular buttermilk pancakes. We ordered ours with blueberries and bananas. Austin seems to have a love affair with pancakes. Believe it or not we finished every ever last bite of that meal. It was all delicious.

Verdict: A very cute spot for hot chocolate and a couple of pancakes. Just across the street is the river and a very nice pathway where you can enjoy a little walk afterwards. Magnolia Cafe, 2304 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, Texas, USA.

 

 

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Hot Chocolate at Holy Cacao, Austin, USA

I was intrigued when I copied down the address to Holy Cacao; South Austin Trailer Park and Eatery. A fancy chocolate shop with fantastically rich hot chocolate in a trailer park? Ah, but this is Austin where empty lots are turned into culinary hot spots. Food vans set up in these lots and here Holy Cacao has set up along side a small handful of other food vans and several picnic tables with colourful umbrellas to enjoy your food on.

Holy Cacao makes two things. First and foremost they are known for their cake balls. For those of you who have yet to discover cake balls they are, according to Holy Cacao, “chunks of rich, freshly baked cake are mixed with frosting then rolled into balls, dipped in chocolate and perched atop popsicle stick. The result is a unique, delicious truffle-like treat”. There are 6 different types of cake balls on the menu, velvet balls are made with red velvet cake, rabbit balls with carrot cake, wedding balls are white cake and so on and so forth. We order three to try, a rabbit ball, a velvet ball and a Diablo ball (chocolate with a touch of chilli).

They also have not one, not two but three different types of hot chocolate. There is their original rich hot chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate with cayenne and chilli and cinnamon, and finally a peppermint hot chocolate. We ordered an original and a Mexican.

These are some rich hot chocolates. They are kind of like a rich and gooey chocolate pudding but still liquid enough to drink. If you are a chocolate lover this is your hot chocolate. I loved the first few sips but a whole cup was just too much for me. It was good enough that I would have still paid 4$ for a small cup of this. I would have loved more chill in my Mexican chocolate too…it was very very subtle.

Verdict: If you have a sweet tooth visit Holy Cacao. The van is very cute and I loved sitting out on the picnic tables under the trees. I’ll be back… Holy Cacao, 1311 South 1st Street, Austin, Texas, USA

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Hot Chocolate at Hillside Pharmacy, Austin, USA

I had the pleasure of visiting Hillside Farmacy in Austin recently. I was really looking forward to visiting this place after reading different reviews online. It is newly opened (March 2012) but what is so fantastic about it is its décor. Hillside Farmacy is so called because it is housed in an old, perfectly intact pharmacy which used to be Austin’s first and only African-American run pharmacy for decades. The owners have kept the pharmacy cabinets and even an old soda fountain that was used many years ago (apparently one of the women who works here used to work the fountain back in the days when this was a real farmacy!).

Today it is a very cute café/restaurant/grocery store that sells not only a range of interesting meals but also cheese, breads, jams, hams and other tasty bits and pieces. We get a table inside and I quickly scan the menu for hot chocolates. I had high expectations. Everything is gorgeous about this place (they even have beautiful old blue medicine bottles as salt and pepper shakers!) so the hot chocolate just had to be good. It better be too because their ‘Coco Chaud’ as they called it in the menu was priced at 6$!

Five minutes later I am presented with a rather small white cup with a couple of wilted mint leaves draped over the side of the mug. I remember hearing in one of those reality cooking shows the chef judge saying “If it isn’t part of the dish, don’t put it on the plate”. Is the mint supposed to go in the cup? It looks nice but is so sad and wilted that I push it over to the side and quickly take my first smell.

The hot chocolate smells of nothing really and even worse tastes of nothing! My heart breaks. At 6$ with this décor I was expecting something fabulously chocolately and rich but instead I was given a small shot of frothy milk with just the faintest taste of chocolate. My disappointment was so great that I spent the next 30 minutes in the car with my husband trying to figure out how they could charge 6$ for frothy milk. Perhaps they milk the cows themselves? Perhaps the cows are massaged before they are milked? Perhaps the chocolate is so rare and special that only a tiny amount can be used (hence such a small cup).

We asked and the chocolate is from an Austin based company called Delysia. They also sell bags of it here too if you want to try it for yourself. I visited Delysia’s website and the descriptions and the pictures don’t look anything like what I got. On their site it looks dark and rich, this looks like some good quality hot chocolate (they also sell a Lavender hot chocolate which has completely intrigued me and that I am going to go looking for next time I am in Austin which is luckily in a few weeks time).

Verdict: Hillside Pharmacy is incredibly stunning coffee shop. The staff are outstanding, the food looks great, the prices reasonable. But something strange happened with their hot chocolate, not only is it priced so much higher than all their other drinks, it isn’t actually hot chocolate, at least not the one I got today. Hillside Farmacy, 1209 East 11th st, Austin, Texas.

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