FOOD

Hunker down with Winnipeg’s haute hot chocolates

Sorry eggnog but even in December you’re second best to hot chocolate.

Five top hot chocolates to warm your insides

Constance Menzies, proprietor of Chocolatier Constance Popp in St. Boniface, offers her chocolate drink, a modern take on the traditional Yucatan confection. It's loaded with dark Belgian chocolate with hints of cinnamon and a warm, spicy finish of chili pepper. (Robin Summerfield)

Sorry eggnog but even in December you’re second best to hot chocolate. 

And in Winnipeg, an emerging haute hot chocolate scene is elevating the traditional winter warm-up. But even if carefully concocted hot chocolates bring the flash, an old-fashioned cup of cocoa is also king. In that spirit, here are some of Winnipeg’s top hot chocolates.

Chocolatier Constance Popp 
At just two ounces, Chocolatier Constance Popp’s chocolate drink may seem a bit skimpy. In this case, great things come in small packages. “It’s almost supposed to be a chocolate shot,” says chocolatier Constance Menzies. Made with fair trade, dark Belgian chocolate, almond milk, vanilla, a touch of sugar, cinnamon and chili pepper, this liquid lovely is a tweaked version of an authentic Yucatán treat. The initial wave of cinnamon is followed by a warm rush of chili and the tongue tingles. It’s also dairy and gluten free. Popp's hot chocolate is served Saturdays only. (It will be served for free on December 21 in honour of the Winter Solstice.) 

Dessert Sinsations
One sip of chef Barbara O’Hare’s Callebaut chili hot chocolate and you may consider trading your first born for the recipe. It’s a eye-rollingly ridiculous cocoa ride straight to blissville. Hyperbole aside, Dessert Sinsations' hot chocolate is just darn delicious. This Mexican-influenced treat brings the sting of gentle heat with each taste. You’ll be reaching for a spoon to contain the melting whipped cream bubbling over the lip of the mug. It’s all good.

The Canister
For variety alone, Osborne Village’s The Canister deserves recognition in Winnipeg’s hot chocolate scene. The tea and coffee emporium stocks at least 20 varieties of make-it-yourself hot chocolate all year round. “At Christmas I have trouble keeping the shelves full,” says owner Dennis Holack. His back room is also loaded with boxes to replenish the supply. His white and dark
Café Postal's traditional hot chocolate is a throwback to childhood where a luscious layer of whipped cream and drizzles of dark, chocolate syrup topped this dessert drink. (Robin Summerfil)
hot chocolate varieties include: candy cane, maple, caramel, cinnamon bun and banana split and Black Forest, among many others. Holack also carries two sugar-free hot cocoas.

Café Postal and Espresso Junction
Both of these locally owned coffee houses whip up a noteworthy hot chocolate that’s a blast from the past. No frills but lots of froth. Creamy milk chocolate is topped with a dense cloud of whipped cream and generously drizzled with chocolate syrup. Simplicity rules the mug at these coffee shops in St. Boniface and at The Forks. 

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