Hot Cocao at Savour (CT Examiner/Werth)

Seven Cups of Hot Cocoa and Hot Chocolate

Seven stops, seven cups of hot cocoa and hot chocolate later, I sat in my car surrounded by takeaway cups thinking that a large amount of thick, whipped cream made all the difference, and if that’s what you’re into Savour Café & Bakery in Essex should be your first stop this season.

It was my third cup and the first words out of my mouth were, “this is by far the best.” And at the end of the day, I hadn’t changed my mind.

Savour’s cup was smooth and rich with just the right amount of sweetness. The cream made it thick and soft in the mouth, and despite having four stops to go, I finished it completely.

If you’re looking for a photo-ready drink, Ashlawn Farm Coffee should be your next stop. The cocoa there was sweeter, made with cow’s milk and finished with fluffy whipped cream, a sprinkle of cocoa powder and chocolate chips.

At home, in Boston, my favorite winter drink is sipping chocolate from L.A. Burdick. It’s not as sweet, and tastes like a liquid dark chocolate bar. It’s almost a sit-down meal and requires time and patience to enjoy.

I wasn’t expecting to find anything like it on the shoreline, but Hen & Heifer in Guilford surprised me. With a side of their most-popular salted caramel toffee cookie, the small cup of chocolate was a perfect reminder of home during the holidays. And unlike L.A. Burdick, chef Whang Suh at Hen & Heifer understands that huge servings of this dense dessert aren’t necessary. The little cup finished with whipped cream was just the right amount to dip each bite of cookie into.

Cookies aren’t the only thing that goes well with cocoa. Well-salted potato chips also made an excellent pairing at Café Sol in East Lyme.

If you’re anything like me, and sometimes you’d prefer to skip the milk,  both Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea in Madison and The Nest in Deep River have you covered. With options of oat, almond and soy milk, as well as whole milk and 2 percent, there is something for everyone. The subtlety of almond milk was my favorite alternative.

With Christmas just a day away I’m taking more suggestions, so send them my way. My next stop is Klekolo in Middletown and I can’t wait.

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