The Weekend Series: five hot chocolate brands for a winter's night in

The Weekend Series: five hot chocolate brands for a winter’s night in

The Gold Coast’s winters may be fleeting and relatively painless, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of the bounties of the season. We’re talking mulled wine, belly-warming carbs and the high priestess of winter treats, hot chocolate. We’ve slurped our way through countless cups to determine five hot choccy brands you should be stocking in your pantry for the chilly months ahead.

Mörk Chocolate
Specialty hot chocolate doesn’t come much more indulgent than Mörk’s pure, handcrafted blends. The “cacao artisans of Melbourne” set off on a delicious adventure back in 2012 to pay the cacao bean as much respect as the coffee bean, by honouring its unique origins, quality and traceability all the way from tree to cup. The team ethically sources cacao liquor from south-western Venezuela, single-origin cacao powder from Peru, and organic and unrefined coconut blossom sugar from a sustainable farm in Indonesia, before blending it all together in small batches to ensure consistency and freshness. Whatever ratio of cacao and sweetness your palate is craving, Mörk’s range of hand-packed goodies has you covered, while you can get an extra unique choccy fix with the Australian Natives blend of Australian herbs and spices, and the Honeyed Dark Chocolate collaboration with Melbourne City Rooftop Honey. Mörk’s concept cafe and brew house is probably worth the flight to Melbourne, or alternatively snap up your favourites from the online store.

Nib + Noble
Another Melbourne-based cacao deity, Nib + Noble places emphasis on only using organic and fairtrade ingredients, while also ensuring that all elements are ethically sourced and supportive of the communities from which they originate. The Original blend combines organic raw cacao with organic and unrefined coconut sugar and a touch of Himalayan salt, while the Chilli version throws in a fiery kick with organic chilli powder, the Chai blend incorporates organic cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves and black pepper, and the Sugar-Free option is sweetened with xylitol derived from non-GMO corn. All four styles are dairy free and 100 percent natural with no artificial colours or flavours. Nib + Noble’s range of cacao-based treats extends to original, mint and chilli chocolate sauces, and a rich cacao chocolate spread. Search for local Brisbane stockists or order your goodies online.

Grounded Pleasures
Keeping in Victoria, Grounded Pleasures specialises in indulgent drinking chocolates, chai, organic panela and vanilla extract. Owners Sophie and Craig McKenzie operate the family owned business from an 1860s warehouse in their hometown of Ballarat, processing quality cocoa beans naturally and with minimal intervention. Their beautifully packaged drinking chocolate range is extensive, depending on your taste and mood. The fairly traded, dairy- and gluten-free Original boasts a divine blend of Forester and Trinatario cocoa beans with hints of plum, dried cherry and sun-dried muscatels, while those with more adventurous palates can savour Sicilian Orange, Chilli Infused, French Mint, Cinnamon Spice, Vanilla Bean and Noir. In an Aussie first, the Real White Drinking Chocolate contains 20 percent Ghanian cocoa butter and ethically sourced Papua New Guinean vanilla, while the limited-edition Single Origin Tanzania Drinking Chocolate features co-op grown ingredients sourced from some of the world’s best cocoa-growing terroir. Check out your local Grounded Pleasures stockist or shop online.
Image: Grounded Pleasures

Byron Bay Coffee Company
Tracking a little further north, Byron Bay Coffee Company is a family owned and operated boutique roastery in the Byron hinterland that pays homage to the humble coffee bean. Lucky for us sweet tooths, the team has also cast its eye further afield to cocoa, presenting a trio of gluten-free drinking chocolate options for our belly-warming pleasure. The original blend of Gourmet Drinking Chocolate is made from premium-quality cocoa beans that are roasted and blended in Australia, while the Dark Choc Mint and Chilli Cinnamon versions offer rich flavour kicks for the more daring drinkers among us. Head online to browse the company’s drool-inducing chocolate-based product range, which extends to moreish chocolate-coated coffee beans and macadamia nuts.

Heirloom Chocolate
Closer to home, beloved Brisbane caffeine purveyor Bunker serves up a delightful hot Heirloom Chocolate. This pure, organic shaved drinking chocolate is available in 70 percent dark, 37 percent dairy milk and white. Cacao is sourced from the Dominican Republic and Bolivia, before being blended with rapadura cane sugar for the smooth and slightly fruity dark blend, plus an extra dash of Madagascan vanilla bean for the creamy dairy milk blend. The white chocolate fix sees no less than 34 percent cacao butter blended with dairy milk powder, rapadura cane sugar and Madagascan vanilla bean. Blend it into a hot beverage or use it in your baking, as a chocolate sauce, in dessert jaffles or sprinkled on top of just about anything. Pick up your favourite blend in-store at Bunker or online and the team will package their delicious concoctions into kraft bags lined with biodegradable eco-plastic and ship them out to you.

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