Indulge with a steamy, creamy cup of hot chocolate.
The Best: THE ULTIMATE HOT CHOCOLATE $3 small, $4.50 large, L.A. Burdick Chocolate Shop and Cafe
Say farewell to store-bought hot chocolate mix. A new age of hot chocolate has arrived in America, and Burdick -- a sophisticated European-style chocolatier in Harvard Square -- is leading the way. Savoring a cup of its signature dark hot chocolate is an intense experience. Minimally processed chocolate is grated and melted with steamed milk, then garnished with shavings from a cocoa ball cooked down with spices such as cardamom and cinnamon. We can't resist pairing it with a whimsical artisan chocolate mouse with crunchy almond ears. Bottom line Ambrosial hot chocolate that will satisfy even the most discerning chocoholic.
EUROPEAN-STYLE HOT CHOCOLATE $2.50, Bread & Chocolate
An artist turned chef/owner of this cheerful and friendly neighborhood cafe, Eunice Feller re-creates the not-too-sweet but lushly rich hot chocolate she tasted while honeymooning in Italy. The result is fantastico. A small cupful, which is what you get, goes a long way. "We let the quality of the couverture chocolate do all the work," says Feller, who adds Callebaut/Belgian chocolate and a sprinkling of cinnamon to scalded milk and simmers the aromatic concoction until it becomes thick and frothy. Bottom line Warm up body and soul with this delizioso treat.
HOT CHOCOLATE FLIGHT $9.95, Finale Desserterie & Bakery
The more the merrier when it comes to this fanciful flight, which allows you to sample not one but three different kinds of hot chocolate: dark bittersweet, milk blended with hazelnut, and orange-scented white. Executive pastry chef Nicole Coady uses superior Valrhona chocolate as the base for her not overly rich hot chocolate. Three small cups arrive on a platter, along with bite-sized chocolates. Homemade marshmallows melt into the drink, making it creamier. Bottom line Anonymous: "Forget love. . . . I would rather fall in chocolate." -- Carol Kort
L.A. BURDICK CHOCOLATE SHOP AND CAFE 52-D Brattle Street, Cambridge, 617-491-4340, burdickchocolate.comBREAD & CHOCOLATE 108 Madison Avenue, Newtonville, 617-243-0500, breadnchocolate.comFINALE DESSERTERIE & BAKERY 1 Columbus Avenue at Park Plaza, Boston, 617-423-3184, and other locations, finaledesserts.com