8 Over-The-Top Hot Chocolates to Try


Drinking hot chocolate is already a decadent experience (when else is it acceptable to have marshmallows and whipped cream at the same?). But cafes around the world are taking it upon themselves to bring this sweet beverage to even greater heights. From flowering marshmallows to chocolate-covered mugs, here are eight over-the-top drinks to get cozy with this winter.


Chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in dessert heaven. At Cereal Killer Cafe in London, this relationship is taken to new heights in the form of an indulgent mug of hot chocolate. A peanut butter cup garnishes the rim like a lemon wedge, while the rest of the glass has whipped cream, Nutella, peanut butter chips, and chocolate sauce oozing down the sides. And because cereal is kind of their thing, they also sprinkle Reese's Puffs on top.


Joanna Czikalla took her customers (and their Instagram accounts) by storm when she added Unicorn Hot Chocolate to the menu of her Anaheim, California cafe. The fantastical concoction is made by loading rainbow marshmallows, sprinkles, and whipped cream on top of white hot chocolate that’s been dyed a delicate shade of pink. The beverage is one of several unicorn-themed treats offered at Creme & Sugar.


No matter how blustery it feels outside, it’s hard not to think spring when watching a marshmallow flower bloom in your mug. Dominique Ansel (the same French pastry chef behind the cronut) invented this treat by folding a flower-shaped sheet of marshmallow into a white chocolate cup of cocoa. When the cup hits the hot liquid it dissolves, allowing the marshmallow to unfurl its fluffy petals across the width of the cup. The drink is available at Dominique Ansel bakeries in London, Tokyo, and New York City [PDF].


The hot chocolate from Long Story Short Cafe in Port Melbourne, Australia is served in two parts: a mug with a chocolate globe and chocolate pieces on the bottom and a beaker full of piping hot chocolate. After pouring the liquid into the mug, guests can watch the chocolate sphere dissolve to reveal fluffy marshmallows hidden inside. The interactive delicacy comes in different varieties, including white chocolate green tea and a red chocolate Christmas "bauble" available around the holidays.


This Canadian dessert chain is known for its outrageous lattes and soft serve, but it would be a crime to leave Sweet Jesus without sampling their Salted Dark Hot Chocolate. The sinful creation starts with basic hot chocolate and milk that’s then topped with dark chocolate whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and Malden's finishing salt. A crushed Oreo-covered rim ensures plenty of chocolatey goodness in every sip.


This artisanal chocolate shop, with outposts in both London and Rome, knows how to make a bellissimo cup of hot chocolate. Before filling a mug with the rich beverage, melted white, dark, and milk chocolates are spilled over the sides to create a luscious effect. We recommend having napkins close at hand when you take the plunge.


When it comes to decadence, this hot chocolate somehow outdoes the dessert that shares its name. The drink comes with strawberries, marshmallows, Cadbury chocolate, and a whole red velvet cupcake nestled on top. The Picnic Burwood in Sydney, Australia seats diners outdoors year round, and when they break out the patio heaters in the winter months, a mug of hot chocolate makes for a perfect cozy treat.


Fatties Bakery at London’s Druid Street Market has found an ingenious way to ensure that every sip of their salted caramel hot chocolate has the sweetness of marshmallow included. After pouring the hot chocolate into a cup, marshmallow is piped around the rim and brûléed with a torch. The marshmallow barrier keeps the beverage contained while keeping your mouth sticky and happy.

Pop Chart Lab
Epic Poster Charts More Than 500 Varieties of Beer
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

Pop Chart Lab has produced several beer-related posters, like the "Very Many Varieties of Beer" and the "Very, Very Many Varieties of Beer." They’ve outdone themselves again with their latest refreshing visualization. The new chart, titled "The Magnificent Multitude of Beer," organizes more than 500 individual beers into more than 100 different styles.

According to Pop Chart Lab, this latest poster is particularly expansive, listing two to five times as many beers as their previous charts. Even the most seasoned beer aficionado has something to learn from studying it. The product’s description reads:

“This ultimate beer chart breaks down every style of brew from hoppy IPAs to fruity Iambics. Now including ABV and IBU ranges for each style—as well as glassware recommendations!—this massive mapping of beer captures the delicious, awe-inspiring output of breweries around the world.”

All that information requires an appropriate package to contain it. The poster measures 48-by-32-inches—making it more than big enough to cover the wall behind your home bar. Hang this poster where you can see it and your well of beer knowledge will never run dry. You can preorder a print for $65, with shipping set to begin on February 15.

Chart of beer varieties.
Pop Chart Lab

Framed poster of beer varieties.
Pop Chart Lab
Public Domain // Mendhak // CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic (Wikimedia Commons)
George Orwell's 11 Tips for Proper Tea Making
Public Domain // Mendhak // CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic (Wikimedia Commons)
Public Domain // Mendhak // CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic (Wikimedia Commons)

More than 70 years ago, in the January 12, 1946, edition of the Evening Standard, George Orwell wrote up 11 tips for making and consuming tea. Published under the title "A Nice Cup of Tea," Orwell noted that "at least four [points] are acutely controversial." That's a bold claim!

So what does it take to make an Orwellian cup of tea? Read on.


If you look up 'tea' in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.
This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:


First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays—it is economical, and one can drink it without milk—but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase 'a nice cup of tea' invariably means Indian tea.


Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities—that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.


Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.

(Ed. note: a hob is a stove burner in this context. Depends a bit on what sort of pot you're using whether it's safe to put it on the burner!)


Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes—a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.


Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.


Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.


Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.


Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup—that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.


Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.


Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.


Lastly, tea—unless one is drinking it in the Russian style—should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Some people would answer that they don't like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

Orwell concludes:

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one's ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.

Let the arguing commence, tea lovers!


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