Winter warmer: Hot chilli hot chocolate

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I have to take a short break from my holiday éclair hunt musings, to share this AWESOME news.  One of my long-term favourite places for hot chocolate in Hobart is Parklane, as my loyal readers (hello, you two!) would know.  I was out for a lunch stroll yesterday and decided to pop in for a hot chocolate treat.  Aside from the standard hot chocolate, they have also introduced rum hot chocolate (which I personally found a bit strong and not a great drink for a productive afternoon in the office!).  But yesterday, I noticed, they have a new arrival – chilli hot chocolate! 

In my (vast!) chilli hot chocolate experience, the addition of chilli can be a token gesture.  Normally more ‘meh’ than ‘yeah’.  But thinking back to the amount of rum Parklane added to hot chocolate, I suspected the chilli might really make its presence felt.  This overthinking on my part, certainly panned out. The chilli was unmissable and a great warmer (and sinus clearer!) on a freezing autumn day.  If you are a little chilli-wary, then perhaps this is not the drink for you, but if you don’t mind it hot, this is an amazing winter mood lifter.

Parklane Espresso
Parklane Espresso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Home-style hot chocolate: I need your tips

Now the weather is starting to warm up (earlier this year which will cut hot chocolate season short), I will feel less inclined to zip around every café I see for hot chocolate 😦 So, I thought this would be a good time of year (thinking of the cool spring nights) to ‘test drive’ some hot chocolate that can be made at home 🙂

So, what is your favourite hot chocolate to drink at home?

I have good supply of Mörk 85% Even Darker at home (the only place I have found that stock this in Hobart is Norman & Dann). Mörk also make 70% Original Dark, 65% Dark Milk & River Salt and 50% Junior Dark (I am pretty sure you can get all of these at Norman & Dann).

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Recently, I picked up some Coal River Farm dark hot chocolate and have started experimenting at home with this. I plan to try this with some ginger to hopefully achieve a nice ginger hot chocolate (once I get the balance right).

Coal River

So, rather than try out just these two so I can provide a comparison across taste and price ranges, send me some tips on which brands/styles of hot chocolate you make at home or want me to have a go at creating 🙂 I will happily share all (successful) recipes.

Winter is coming…

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…or so they say multiple times an episode in Game of Thrones! But it really is coming soon and I need to start getting ready so I am adequately prepared for both winter and hot chocolates. I found this ‘lovely’ jumper online…are there any knitters out there (hello, Karen!) who would like a project to take on? I cannot knit straight lines to save myself, but imagine how fantastic I would look in this?! Now, if it had a hood…

Straight Up and out the door

Straight up 3

After declaring summer was not the best time to eat éclairs in my last post, today I realised they are not seasonal. On a lovely warm day in Tasmania, I noticed that Straight Up Coffee + Food had posted freshly baked éclairs on their Facebook page. Well, not actually baked them on Facebook (give them time to come up with that app!), but pictures of some in the shop were posted…oh, you get what I mean!

After firstly deciding that I was not travelling into the city to get éclairs, I remembered how rare good éclairs are to come by in this pastry challenged state, so I called the shop and had two éclairs put aside for me. I have been through ‘the last one just sold’ devastation before so was not taking any chances.

Just before we stopped at Straight Up Coffee + Food, my sister and I called in to Vita (Elizabeth Street), for some frozen yoghurt. After we had varying success with the self-serve ice cream setup (neither of us will be working for Mr Whippy anytime soon) and selected our sprinklings, which mainly consisted of odd nut selections and muesli (I found crushed brownies and toasted coconut thank goodness!), we and our sore teeth moved onto Straight Up.

The éclairs were raspberry and passionfruit – a surprising and colourful change to the normal (whipped cream laden) éclairs that are to be found in Hobart. With the frozen yoghurt probably still melting in my belly, the éclairs were taken home for later in the day…which was about 1.5 hours ‘later’! I really liked the white chocolate with the dehydrated raspberry and also the combination of the passionfruit. The only part that confused me a little was the rich chocolate crème pâtissière which seemed a little out of place (but not bad) with the rest of the flavours. Just so happy to see someone trying a different take on éclairs 

Straight up 4

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Great food? Check. Great coffee? Check. Great hot chocolate? Fail.

This week I have again been confused about the huge difference in quality between hot chocolate and coffee. Of the three hot chocolates I have consumed this week, only one has been great (Pollen Tea Room, which is in a class of its own).  The other two were truck stop quality at best, and were from two places that I love to visit for lunch. Although I am not a coffee drinker, I have it on good authority that both of these establishments make good coffee.  They just clearly do not care for hot chocolate. But I do!

The first mug of milkiness masquerading as hot chocolate was at the fantastic Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet (please go there for their great lunches and amazing cakes – just avoid the hot chocolate). I really do love this place and after ordering pate and calamari, I probably didn’t need hot chocolate, so maybe it was my own fault and I should not have ordered it.  Anyway, the froth was great – it acted as a shelf for my marshmallows and filled half the cup (it turns out this was the best part and I am grateful there was so much of it!).  The hot chocolate was milk-on-milk.  Just not good.  Since everything else at Red Velvet is so damn good, I really had high hopes.   I asked my coffee drinking companions how the coffee was and it was great.  This did not help.  Why is there so much emphasis placed on how good an establishments coffee is (I get it that it is popular – far more than hot chocolate), but why do great coffee and then not care about hot chocolate?  I was told hot chocolate is lame – which I took great offence to – but this particular one was lame.  The best part was they forgot to charge me for it.  And I do not consider that stealing, because I was not sure what to call it to tell them it had been forgotten.  Hot chocolate it was not.

Beverage titled 'hot chocolate' from Red Velvet Lounge

Beverage titled ‘hot chocolate’ from Red Velvet Lounge

My Friday ray of sunshine was a stop at Pollen Tea Room who seem to excel at food, sweets, tea, coffee and hot chocolate. See?  It can be done.  I am not asking for miracles!  I just cannot describe how good their hot chocolates are – best to see for yourself.

Even takeaway Pollen hot chocolate is great

Even takeaway Pollen hot chocolate is great

Yesterday, after a lovely few hours in the city with my sister, we decided to stop at Kafe Kara and have a drink before we headed home. As a new spot on my hot chocolate crawl, I was keen to sample their version.  Similar to Red Velvet, Kafe Kara has great food and is a great spot for lunch (and it is always packed with people).  Their coffee is also good apparently, but again the hot chocolate was treated like a poor cousin.  Truck stop again, but moderately better than Red Velvet.  Another powered, milky mess with about as much excitement as drinking puddle water.

Kafe Kara (k)catastrophe

Kafe Kara (k)catastrophe

Hot chocolate aficionados need to unite and demand equal rights to coffee drinkers I think…there is no other way to sort this injustice!

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The Red Velvet Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A hot start to a chilly morning

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Is there a better way to start Friday than a hot chocolate in the fresh Hobart spring air? I think not. This morning, while waiting for my car, I strolled to Straight Up Food + Coffee for a sneaky HC. This is such a great café and super busy at 8am. Since all of the seats inside were taken, I braved it and pulled up a pew outside. It was a lovely way to wake up and warm up on a beautiful Hobart morning.

Yumminess 🙂

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Pure perfection at Pollen

Pollen Tea Room

I seem to be experiencing something of a hot chocolate windfall.  Yesterday I was reunited with one of my favourite places to sip hot chocolate, Next Door, and today I decided to try a spot that has been proving elusive and is in my neighbourhood – Pollen Tea Room.  In what seems typical of small cafes and eateries in Battery Point, Pollen is not open every day.  Samantha and I learnt this a while ago when we found it closed, and our second visit proved a popular day with the tiny space packed to the brim. Since then it has been a matter of finding time.

Today I decided I would head out for a morning tea break, nice and early, to get a spot and finally try the hot chocolate (which have received great reviews but I was not sure how they would taste since they are made of cacao powder – sounded healthy).  At 10am, Pollen seemed to be full of regulars.  Everyone was greeted by their first name and in-depth conversations about tea and organic produce were taking place.  It was apparent the staff and owners care passionately about organic produce and high quality products.  And it was a cosy place to on a very chilly, but incredibly beautiful Hobart morning.  The urge to take photos hit me again, but again politeness took over and I decided not to intrude on the happy, tea sipping crowd’s morning.  I will save that for another day.  Although there was a guy in there with a long lens camera, snapping away, so maybe my phone and I would have blended in.

I took my place in the corner, and waited for my hot chocolate.  It arrived and there was no funky artwork in the froth, just a smattering of cocoa (which was probably cacao powder from its bitter taste – I am still learning about cacao powder, but I am liking it).  The combination of bitter and sweet flavours with a deep, but not rich, chocolate taste was amazing.  I feel slightly bad that Next Door’s reign as my number one hot chocolate in Hobart lasted only a day.  This was unlike any other hot chocolate I have ever tasted.  I am hooked.  I asked how they made it, and it is their own mix of cacao powder, sugar (I think), water and other things – I zoned out.  I really need the recipe but I think it is unlikely I will get it.  Perhaps if I become one of their regulars that they know by name I might have a chance of getting the exact mix…my life may then be complete!

Pollen Tea Room

56 Hampden Rd, Battery Point

* To fulfil my need to take photos, I did stop on my way back from Pollen Tea Room to capture Princes Park in winter, which really looks more like spring at the moment.  So beautiful.

Princes Park in winter

Princes Park in winter

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