7 Stops for the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival Fan

Sweeten up your season with Vancouver’s most creative cocoa beverages

Credit: iStock/YelenaYemchuk

From January 17th to February 14th, local food purveyors celebrate one of the season’s most popular hot beverages with unique takes on the warm winter classic

Meteorologists will tell you Vancouver is experiencing a warmer winter than normal – but that certainly doesn’t mean a soothing mug of hot chocolate should be scrubbed from the menu. The Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival is back for a fifth annual installment, again providing the perfect opportunity to pop into two dozen local establishments to sample the finest cocoa creations.

The celebration supports the deserving work of East Van Roasters, a training and employment program that provides a valuable opportunity for women on the Downtown Eastside. This year, Roasters even participates as an official vendor. Download the festival walking map here, and click through to see some of the amazing beverages available this year.

49th Parallel – 2198 West Fourth Avenue and 2902 Main Street, Vancouver

Given their partnership with Lucky’s Doughnuts, it’s no wonder Vancouver’s popular 49th Parallel Roasters are showcasing the simple comforts of “Hot Chocolate and a Doughnut” on their festival lineup. To fill out the menu, the Nanaimo Bar variety blends in butter icing, sweetened milk and a coconut whipped cream topping while the Lumberjack relies on spice and syrup to complete its patriotic recipe.

Served with: Doughnut-shaped financier (Nanaimo Bar); Maple marshmallow and chocolate-covered wafer logs (Lumberjack)

Credit: Bel Café

Bel Café – 801 West Georgia Street, Vancouver

David Hawksworth’s trendy midday café switches up the menu board, offering one selection during the festival’s first two weeks and another to wrap the celebration up. To begin, customers can enjoy the Tahitian Dream, featuring a Valrhona base of white chocolate with caramelized milk solids. In week two, the focus shifts to the Rainforest, created with dark chocolate from the Dominican Republic.

Served with: Coconut marshmallow and vanilla bean shortbread (Tahitian Dream); Mango, brazil and almond florentine (Rainforest)

Chocolate Arts – 1620 West 3rd Avenue, Vancouver

Sometimes simplicity is key. In addition to two more daring flavours – the Was’ Up? mixes in fiery wasabi while the Put De Lime in De Coconut opts for Calamansi lime – Chocolate Arts relies on its popular blend of Dominican, Peruvian and Mexican cocoa beans as the base for the Alluringly Simple: the most straightforward hot chocolate showcased at this Kits mainstay.

Served with: Sesame seed florentine (Was’ Up); Coconut ice cream and coconut financier (Put De Lime In The Coconut); Chocolate marshmallow and chocolate-covered shortbread cubes (Alluringly Simple)

Butter Baked Goods – 4907 MacKenzie Street, Vancouver

Butter offers up two distinct versions of hot choc: the Raspberry White and the Homemade Oreo. The former combines raspberry and white chocolate for a fruit-forward flavour while the latter celebrates the iconic cookie, finishing off a dark chocolate recipe with vanilla whipped cream and Oreo crumbs.

Served with: White chocolate-dipped raspberry marshmallow (Raspberry White); Homemade Oreo cookie (Homemade Oreo)

Credit: Mink Chocolates and Café

Mink Chocolates and Café – 863 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

A financial district favourite, Mink Chocolates and Café has never lacked for creativity. Its Mermaid’s Choice – a chocolate confection that houses an intriguing combination of rosemary, sea salt and burnt caramel – was the winner of “Best Chocolate Bar” at the 2014 International Chocolate Salon and the company’s flare for the unexpected continues.

Two beverage options are on offer: the seasonally-appropriate Flu Shot, a Bailey’s-infused ganache served in a syringe, and “Don’t Bug Me” (above), a milk chocolate concoction topped with dried crickets.

Served with: A Fisherman’s Friend lozenge (Flu Shot); and 72 per cent dark chocolate square (Don’t Bug Me)

Diva at the Met – 645 Howe Street, Vancouver

Combining cocoa from Barry Callebaut – the world’s largest chocolate manufacturer – and the award-winning chocolate of Valrhona, the “Adults Only” spin on hot chocolate from longtime culinary favourite Diva at the Met is one of the few in the festival with a more mature kick to its recipe. A flat lid of chocolate, complete with a Bailey’s ball, melts atop the drink and adds eye-opening flavour.

Served with: Matcha green tea cake

Terra Breads – Various Locations, Vancouver

Like Diva at the Met, the baked goods chain jumps into festival fun with a Barry cocoa creation, but this one folds in a unique balsamic slant. Terra’s recipe mixes in Acetaia Reale balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy, and tops it all off with whipped cream and a well-paired cocoa-balsamic glaze.

Served with: Chocolate and salt truffle cookie