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Hot Chocolate: A Hudson Valley Staple

By Katie Maus

Lots of people drink coffee or tea on a daily basis. It wakes them up, relaxes them, or they simply like the taste of it. Tea and coffee, to me, are regular drinks, while hot chocolate has always been a special occasion drink. Hot cocoa is reserved for the winter months, something to drink on Christmas Eve or after sledding at Tymor Park. It’s a dessert, and a way to warm up, all in one. What is more sublime than a comfy chair by a snowy window, with a fluffy blanket, a good book and a steaming hot cup of cocoa? It’s the perfect time for some hot chocolate, and the wintry Hudson Valley is the perfect place for it. Here are some ideas for where to drink, where to buy, and how to make some good hot chocolate.

  Verdigris Tea and Chocolate Bar

Verdigris Tea and Chocolate Bar

Local Cafes:
Cafe Le Perche in Hudson has a great cinnamon flavored drink; perfect for a cold day checking out the cute shops on Hudson’s Warren Street.

Patisserie Lenox is also located in Hudson and offers a more bitter, dark cocoa along with some delicious pastries and a relaxing atmosphere.

Samuel’s in Rhinebeck is a sweet shop I’m sure we’ve all heard of; it’s the one owned by Paul Rudd and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Much smaller than I expected, the walls were packed with a variety of sweets, and I grabbed a cup of cocoa just because I was chilly. It was a tasty cup of milk chocolate, and a fun atmosphere, definitely worth a visit.

Babbette’s in Millbrook is an adorable little cafe in an adorable little town. A great place worth a visit, and perfect for a warm drink, while antiquing in town. 

Twisted Soul by Vassar College is another place to try their hot cocoa. I’ve never been there myself, but I’ve heard great things about their Mexican hot chocolate. According to an article in Hudson Valley Magazine (8 Spots for Hot Cocoa by Barbara Ballinger), the drink is “made with La Abuelita Mexican chocolate - which is often used in Hispanic mole sauces - and steamed milk and has a hot-cinnamon kick. Some say it’s like eating Red Hots candies.” It’s definitely on my list to visit this winter. 

Hot cocoa is also great to make when you have company over for the holidays or after the kids come in from playing in the snow. You can also make hot chocolate gift baskets to give as Secret Santa gifts or for your children’s teachers.

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Places to buy mix:
Fruition in Shokan makes some of the best chocolate in the world (they won at the International Chocolate Awards again this year). They have cans of “sipping chocolate” for sale at their stores in Shokan and Woodstock. I first tried it at their open house last year and it was hands down the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. 

Verdigris Tea and Chocolate Bar in Hudson is the cutest shop with the greatest variety in teas and chocolates. From gummy candies to locally made chocolate bars (noted some Fruition chocolate and Oliver Kita bars for sale!), they’ve got it all. There’s a whole wall of teas! You can get a cup of cocoa or tea while you’re there or you can get a tin to take home. I took a tin home and it was not only adorable but their hot cocoa was delicious! Definitely worth a visit!

Supermarkets. What? I thought this was about fancy places to go get some hot chocolate! Sometimes, as I was reminded by a friend when asking for recommendations, “isn’t the best cup of hot chocolate the one you make yourself?” He wasn’t wrong. Countless people I spoke to said they swore by a good old cup of Swiss Miss. I’ve personally had good hot chocolate from heating up some milk and adding Hershey’s Syrup to it. A favorite of mine is also Land O’ Lakes flavored hot chocolate. The cocoa on its own has a great flavor, but sometimes adding to it is even better! They make a hazelnut flavor that is to die for! There’s also raspberry and mint, which I’ve never tried. A friend of mine loves the mint mixed with some vodka. Not so great for the kids, but adults love a good cup of cocoa too! What else can you add to your cup of Swiss Miss or your chocolate melted into warm milk?

Cinnamon:
 
I didn’t think I’d like this at first, but it’s so warm and comforting! Emma Swan was onto something with this one! 

Candy Canes:
Mom always told us to stir our cocoa with them and it always made it taste better!

Marshmallows:
I like the mini ones personally, but throw some regular sized ones or even the jumbo ones in there!

Caramel: Throw some salt in there too to make it a salted-caramel cocoa!

For the grown-ups, adding Vodka or some Bailey’s will make sure your cocoa warms you all the way up.

Whether you make it yourself or go out and buy it, hot chocolate keeps you warm and smiling in the winter in the Hudson Valley.

Cheers!