Once a year for 3-4 weeks in January and February, Vancouver hosts the Hot Chocolate Festival, 2019 was no different. It’s a time of year when places make a pretty big effort and offer some amazing concoctions of chocolate joy for people to enjoy. For people like me who don’t drink coffee or tea, this is a wonderful time of year. It means being offered choices when you normally don’t have any, and it also means getting to order a drink off the menu right in front of everyone. As opposed to the secret, hidden, children’s menu where hot chocolate normally resides in a lot of places (like Starbuck’s). Also, if you are a foodie, it’s a great time to try smaller companies you might not be aware of. So get ready to hear all about the Hot Chocolate Festival 2019 in the Vancouver area.
All kinds of places take part in the festival. This year there were ice cream shops, chocolate shops, patisseries, bakeries, cafés, coffee shops, doughnut shops, and even a fancy café in a Vancouver hotel downtown.
My excursions this year involved anywhere from one to three hot chocolates at a time. And being my second year, I tried to hit up more than I did last year so I have also learned a thing or two about flavours and chocolate. For one, we all pretty much know white chocolate is the sweetest but I also learned it is the best choice to let the other flavours in the drink show themselves. Milk chocolate also allows flavours through but not all of them. Dark chocolate is the least sweet of the chocolates, the most rich, but it also over-powers almost all other flavours.
HOT CHOCOLATES TRIED IN VANCOUVER
This was a tough choice because I wanted to try all three offerings at Musette. In the end I went with the Amaretti Merckx with a shot of amaretto (an additional $4). There was also bailey’s and kalhua if that was your preference. The flavour of this hot chocolate was quite mild but I didn’t personally taste anything other than the milk chocolate. Once it started cooling I could pick-out the alcohol but before that I didn’t get any other flavours. I was with someone who had the Fabian Caramella and he said the caramel was very subtle.
I also had Musette’s Blueberry and White Chocolate Scone. It was very sweet but also really good.
Diva at the Met
Ahhhh the fancy café in a downtown Vancouver hotel. This creamy white chocolate concoction had a hint of lavender flavour and a bit more of a lemon one. It was a great blend of flavours without any one of them overwhelming the palette.
The mini doughnut it came with though wasn’t as appealing to me. It was a cake doughnut, which I don’t normally enjoy, plus it tasted a bit cold and greasy. The flavour was delicious though and it was even glazed with a sprinkling of lavender on top.
Prettier in Pink
Bel Cafés first offering was a bit out of the comfort zone for my friend I was with but I enjoyed it. Even though it had a subtle rose flavour and a very strong raspberry one, you could still taste the rose because it is quite distinctive. I found those two flavours worked very well with the creamy white chocolate but it was quite sweet.
The red raspberry macaron it came with was very flavourful and had a centre of what I thought was raspberry jam. I loved it!
49th Parallel Roasters & Lucky’s Doughnuts
Dark Chocolate Love
Okay, number two on my least enjoyed from this year’s festival is from 49th Parallel. The doughnut did help it out a bit though. I really enjoy Lucky’s Doughnuts which is a big plus, but 49th Parallel does not make the best hot chocolate in my opinion. It’s basically cocoa powder and steamed milk which isn’t the best combination if you are more of a hot chocolate connoisseur, as I like to claim to be. Personally one of my favourite parts of the drinks though is the creations by the baristas. Once I had a design that was new for the barista and didn’t quite turn out looking as it was intended. For the festival, I was left drinking a phallic design. Both were awesome in their own way and I loved them.
HOT CHOCOLATES TRIED IN NORTH VANCOUVER
Temper Chocolate and Pastry
My Milkshake Brings All The Boys To The Yard
This offering from temper was a white chocolate drink with a very intense strawberry flavour. It was topped with whipped cream and powdered strawberry plus it came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and an intensely strawberry flavoured chocolate lollipop. The entire treat was amazing. Everything was so flavourful. I’ve had freeze dried strawberries and strawberry powder before, it makes the strawberry flavour very intense so I wonder if that’s what they used for both the hot chocolate and the lollipop because the flavour was amazing.
On a side note, I had never been to BjornBar Bakery before but I love this place now and plan to visit more often than just this festival. They have such a different assortment of treats than you usually get at other coffee shops/cafes/bakeries. I’ll be having an article about them up in a few weeks.
The entire presentation for both the BjornBar offerings I tried were presented in a wonderful, enjoyable way.
Bjorn to Party
This was the first one at BjornBar Bakery I was able to try. It looked so fun I had to. Made with a creamy white chocolate and having a slightly toasted coconut flavour, this hot chocolate was topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. I’m like a five-year-old in an adult’s body cause I love sprinkles. This amusing treat also came with 4 small, bite-sized, sweet, pink meringue cookies.
The Salty ‘C’
Caramel is my favourite flavour so I really wanted to make another trip to BjornBar Bakery to try their third week offering. I also learned during the 2018 Hot Chocolate Festival that I apparently enjoy white chocolate and salt together. Anyway, The Salty ‘C’ was another win in my mind from BjornBar. It was a creamy white chocolate, not overly sweet, and with just a hint of caramel. Although when I got to the bottom of the mug I did find a bunch of caramel so maybe if I would have stirred my drink it would have had a bit more of the flavour throughout. It was a great mix of flavours no matter though. The piece of milk chocolate bark that came with the drink was sweet with a bit of salty caramel strips.
Earnest Ice Cream
Sweet & Salty
This hot chocolate was probably the sweetest one I drank throughout the entire festival and honestly, I didn’t taste anything but a lot of chocolate. It was actually overwhelming. I enjoyed the topping of whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and salty pretzel pieces but the drink itself was too much. It was my third least favourite because of this.
The blondie bar it was served with was delicious! It was crunchy on the outside, sweet & soft on the inside, and contained both nuts and chocolate chunks.
Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie
You Are Fired!
This was the most interactive drink I have ever had. I also wish I would have stirred this one so all the sweet, salty, chocolate flavour wasn’t sitting at the bottom. I didn’t watch my drink being made but I almost wonder if I received a mug of steamed milk and the salty chocolate aspect of the drink was the interactive part that was added by me. You see the drink was served in a mug and comes with two small sugar coated vanilla shortbread cookies and a round white chocolate covered square marshmallow. The round ball is placed in your mug and the chocolate melts into your drink leaving a square marshmallow floating around. It’s entertaining, tasty, and fun.
HOT CHOCOLATES TRIED IN BURNABY
Chez Christophe had two hot chocolate offerings again this year. Strawberry Fields Forever, and the one I tried.
The Bees Knees Squeeze
The hot chocolate festival website listed this as a white hot chocolate flavoured with lemon and honey and served with a cream cheese treat. I guess it was changed though because both the sign in the patisserie and my treat were slightly different. The drink was still white chocolate flavoured with lemon but it had a whipped cream cheese topping and it was served with a lemon honey ‘Bon Bon’.
I was really looking forward to the hot chocolate and treat as described on the website but the new drink definitely didn’t disappoint. It was delicious! I loved the tangy lemon mixed with the sweet white chocolate and that whipped cream cheese topping sprinkled with yellow, lemon flavoured bits was amazing. I wasn’t fond of the bon-bon but that’s because it had soft chocolate in it which I am not fond of. The flavour though as well as the cookie base and hard chocolate coating were parts I really enjoyed. This was my second favourite in the Hot Chocolate Festival 2019.
Mon Paris Patisserie
Described as a rich dark chocolate with warming spices topped with a maple whipped cream and chocolate maple leaf, this was my least liked hot chocolate. I did enjoy the dark chocolate, the whipped cream, and also the maple leaf chocolate. But the spices added, I was told by the person I was with that it contained pumpkin, were not anything I enjoyed. I admit I normally hate pumpkin but I honestly really disliked this drink. Which is unfortunate because it is a really cute shop with wonderful treats.
Mon Paris Patisserie does beautiful chocolate creations. Between the toppings last year and this year they definitely know what they are doing to create stunning chocolate pieces of art.
Glenburn Soda Fountain & Confectionery
Great Balls of Fire
My favourite hot chocolate for 2018 was from Glenburn, it was white chocolate and it was salty. This year my favourite for 2019 is also from Glenburn. The Great Balls of Fire hot chocolate is made with milk chocolate and cinnamon with Fireball liqueur. The Fireball is cooked till it becomes a sauce so there is no alcohol or very little by the time it is mixed with the chocolate. What Glenburn has created is a milk chocolate hot chocolate that tastes like they melted a bunch of cinnamon heart candies into. It’s not though, I asked.
Served with this sweet, rich, delicious treat is a scoop of vanilla ice cream coated in crunchy cereal and topped with a chocolate drizzle, whipped cream, and a cinnamon heart.
For the last week of the festival Glenburn was going to be sharing their most popular of the three hot chocolate offerings but their supplies were low so they decided to offer a new one instead.
A peanut butter drizzle in the glass provided a hint of the lovely combination of milk chocolate & peanut butter flavour as you consume this delicious treat. It was topped with whipped cream, peanut butter drizzle, & a pretzel dust. I loved it. Not as much as Great Balls of Fire but I still did.
It was served with a delicious mini homemade milk chocolate peanut butter cup with a pretzel on top.
If you weren’t able to enjoy the Hot Chocolate Festival 2019 in the Vancouver area, I highly recommend trying some wonderful and inventive treats during next year’s festival. Except for those ones with coffee or tea added. Those are just wrong. These are supposed to be hot chocolate drinks people!