Short List: Hot chocolate

Since bitter temps demand that hot chocolate be consumed in vast quantities, those of us cuckoo for cocoa couldn’t be happier this time of year. Our top three cups will all satiate your inner child’s sweet needs as well as your adult craving for strong, complex flavors. High-quality chocolate is front and center, so these are worth leaving home for, no matter how low the mercury dips. Keep in mind that while we stuck with dark chocolate varieties, each location offers a range of flavors.

Baileys’ Chocolate Bar
1915 Park Ave., St. Louis, 314.241.8100

The Chocolate Bar’s inclusion on this list may be expected, but it’s also ridiculously well-deserved. The Dark and Rich version served up at Lafayette Square’s sweetest eatery scores as a hearty winter pick-me-up that’s so thick, it could easily be mistaken for a meal. Chocolate disks from Swiss chocolatier Felchin are fused with half-and-half, skim milk, cocoa and sugar – the result coating your mouth with molten joy. A delicate chocolate swizzle stick is served alongside, so give it a quick swirl in the steamy liquid, then savor the melt-in-your-mouth effect.

Kakao Chocolate
2301 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314.771.2310

Kakao employs its own mix of cocoa powder, dark chocolate and sugar to treat customers. A small amount of hot milk is poured over two to three spoonfuls of the blend to properly melt the ground chocolate. Then the concoction is stirred into a paste and, after a minute or so, the rest of the milk is added. Light foam tops things off nicely, and it’s served in a to-go cup for easy on-the-run consumption. For those with a DIY inclination, take home a bag of the mix to make whenever the fancy strikes.

Café Cioccolato
816 Olive St., St. Louis, 314.345.1200

At this downtown chocolate, wine and art lounge, definitely request one of the house-made marshmallows (oh, how we adore those crispy-on-the-outside, wonderfully gooey-on-the-inside delights), which are sprinkled with cocoa powder and delivered on the bottom of a becoming mug. The hot chocolate is then poured on top, resulting in liquid decadence. It all starts with disks of pure Swiss chocolate, which are melted down and mixed with whole milk to create a sinfully dense drink that’ll keep you coming back for more all winter long.

To see this month's Short List Runner-Ups (hint, there are two this time), click here.