Whether the snow’s started to fall or not, the ideal pick me up on a winter afternoon is a warm mug of hot chocolate. Here are some of the top spots in the Hudson Valley to enjoy a hot cocoa, from local cafes to seasonal festivals. And, for those of you who prefer to hibernate when it’s cold, tips and tricks for making hot chocolate at home.
The Power to Warm
Hot chocolate is to winter what lemonade is to summer – the iconic seasonal beverage. Even on the coldest days, you can warm right up when you hold a mug of cocoa between your hands and inhale the rich, sweet steam.
Or, if you’re curled up at home with a fire and a book, here are some make at home suggestions too.
Best Hudson Valley Hot Chocolate Spots
Hudson Valley Marshmallow Company
What completes a yummy hot chocolate? A perfectly squishy marshmallow! Visit the Hudson Valley Marshmallow Company confectionary in Beacon to mix and match cocoa and marshmallow pairings. Spice lovers might try the El Guapo spicy hot chocolate mix with gingerbread marshmallows. Or Sweet Chai O’ Mine with salted caramel. Drooling yet? Hudson Valley Marshmallow Company, 510 Main Street, Beacon, NY 12508
Verdigris Tea and Chocolate
Spending the day shopping your way up and down Warren Street in Hudson? Clear some time in your busy day to stop at Verdigris Tea and Chocolate. Yes. They have a savory variety of teas to choose from but the hot chocolate is simply divine. It’s like drinking a melted bar of the best chocolate you’ve ever tasted. Verdigris Tea and Chocolate, 135 Warren Street, Hudson, NY 12534
Hot Chocolate Festival
The renowned Ashokan Center hosts a family-friendly Hot Chocolate Festival on February 16, 2020. Indoor and outdoor activities include blacksmithing, broom shop demos and sledding, if the weather permits. The $5 admission includes two flavors of hot chocolate. Additional flavors, colonial crafts and food are available for purchase. The Ashokan Center, 477 Beaverkill Road, Olivebridge, NY 12461.
Apple Pie Bakery Cafe
A visit to the Culinary Institute of America is a must-do on many Hudson Valley itineraries. The food’s great…if you can get a reservation to one of their student-run restaurants. You don’t need a reservation, though, for the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe. Drop by the campus. Stroll the lawn and check out the amaze-balls view of the Hudson and then pop in the cafe for a sammie and a cup of rich hot chocolate. The Culinary Institute of America, 1946 Campus Drive (Route 9), Hyde Park, NY 12538
Bear Mountain Inn
Winter activities at Bear Mountain State Park include hiking, ice skating and sledding. You’ll need to warm up after, and there’s no better spot in the Hudson Valley than near the massive fireplace in the Bear Mountain Inn. Order your hot chocolate from the Inn’s Blue Roof Tapas Bear. It’s served in a generous glass mug with a just right dollop of whipped cream. Bear Mountain Inn, 3020 Seven Lakes Drive, Tomkins Cove, NY 10986
Hot Chocolate Run
Dress like your favorite chocolate treat and “compete” in this annual charity 5K. Entry is $15 in advance or $20 on race day. Your reward? A cup of hot chocolate when you cross the finish line. Details for this Washingtonville event scheduled for February 2, 2020, can be found on Facebook.
Lagusta’s Luscious Commissary
Take a hike in the Mohonk Preserve and then treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate in the Commissary, owned and operated by Lagusta’s. Known for their artisanal chocolates, Lagusta’s Commissary offers a small selection of light bites in addition to bevvies. Lagusta’s Luscious Commissary, 11 Church Street, New Paltz, NY 12561
Making Hot Cocoa at Home
Maybe you prefer to enjoy your hot chocolate at home. In your pajamas. We’re not here to judge. We’re here to help. The first step to a yummy mug of hot chocolate starts with the mix.
Oliver Kita Artisan Chocolate
Oliver Kita is a master chocolatier with a studio and shop in Rhinebeck. Stop in and purchase his decadent hot chocolate mix. The secret? Dark cocoa. Serving suggestions include mixing it with regular, soy or rice milk. Or use it as the ingredient in his Vegan Chocolate Mousse recipe. Oliver Kita Artisan Chocolate, 18 West Market Street, Rhinebeck, NY 12572
How to Fancy Up the Swiss Miss
What? You don’t have premium hot chocolate mix sitting in the pantry? No worries. If you only have an envelope of instant powdered hot cocoa mix on hand, you can still increase the yum. The trick is on the side of the box. Either make the instant cocoa with warm milk or a combo of water and milk. You might have to try with varying amounts until you find the right mix for you.
In the Event of an Emergency
What if the Hudson Valley blizzard happens without warning? And you’re stuck at home with no cocoa mix at all? Guess what? You can make hot chocolate with those blocks of unsweetened chocolate hidden in the back of your cabinet. Here’s the recipe from Baker’s.
Hot Chocolate for the Grownups
A little shot of booze is a nice enhancement for happy hour hot chocolate. Fellow TravelingMom Catherine Parker highly recommends this holiday version: “Spike it up! Add a shot of peppermint schnapps for a cool Yule. Garnish with a candy cane, ‘natch.”
That led me to investigate other liquor/hot chocolate pairings. For example, add Bailey’s Irish Creme and use a green and white candy cane! Want Mexican hot chocolate? Use red and green candy canes and a splash of cinnamon-flavored Fireball whiskey. The possibilities are endless!
Open Suitcase Serving Suggestion: The key to keeping hot cocoa hot? Rinse your mugs with hot water before pouring in the chocolate!
The Last Word. What’s on Top?
Traditionalists say the only acceptable for toppings for hot chocolate are marshmallows – mini or regular. I do not agree. For example, why wait for marshmallows to melt? Instead, flip a spoonful of Fluff on top and sip away.
Homemade whipped cream is a luxury topping that works especially well. Others prefer the taste of Cool Whip.
For a real mouth party, crush some peppermint candies on top. Or add a sprinkle of cinnamon for zip. If you’re serving diehard chocoholics, shave some premium dark chocolate on top.
Ready? Set? Let it snow!