Hot Chocolate!!

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I think my favorite restaurant in Chicago is Hot Chocolate. It’s this great little place in Bucktown where they serve the best damn cup of hot chocolate I have EVER had. I started with the Medium hot chocolate, which their menu describes as “milk chocolate with a touch of dark chocolate and a hint of caramel.” It tasted like heaven. Pure heaven. Warm, with a home-made marshmallow on the side.

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I also got the Napolean au Chocolate & Pear (above), which I can only describe as the best invention in the history of food. The menu describes it as “bittersweet chocolate sabayon mousse, port wine pear sorbet, almond feuillantine, 2hr dehydrated port wine poached pears, local honey cream”…also known as delicious. When we finished the dessert, we weren’t ready to leave so we got the Assortment of Artisan Cheeses. Our wonderful waiter selected the cheeses for us at our request (all we told him was that we had a preference for hard cheeses and mild but interesting flavors) and he totally delivered! In addition to the cheeses, there was a smear of fresh apple butter, a selection of breads, and some fresh fruits and veggies. This was the best, most delightful surprise. I wish I could go to Hot Chocolate every single day! (I’m not kidding….)

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Hot Chocolate on Urbanspoon

A Chocolatey Christmas

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I recently found myself in Winan’s Fine Chocolates and Coffees in the German Village in Columbus, Ohio. It was a cold, gloomy day, and I was delighted to discover that not only did Winan’s have beautiful holiday decorations up, lending the already-cute shop a cheerful ambiance, but they also had a nice assortment of special holiday drinks. I ordered a hot chocolate drink that had milk- and white-chocolate in it, and it was the perfect way to warm up on a cold Columbus winter day. I also got some of their handmade peppermint bark, and it was both beautiful and tasty: the perfect balance of peppermint-crunchiness and chocolatey-richness. Next time you’re in the German Village, stop by Winan’s and treat yourself to something special. You’ll find plenty of things to eat and drink for less than $5, and you’ll leave feeling happy and satisfied.

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Winans Chocolates and Coffees on Urbanspoon

chocolate café (need I say more?)

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The Chocolate Café in Upper Arlington can be summed up in one syllable (and one letter, at that): mmmm. This chocolate cake, warmed up and serve à la mode, was spongy and gooey (and when I say that, I mean it in a good way). They’re open late, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, which makes for a great place to go when you’re craving a midnight snack on a weekend. The atmosphere is casual, and the food is reasonably priced.

Chocolate Cafe on Urbanspoon

get yourself a Sugardaddy!

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This case full of scrumptious round brownies literally made my mouth water! Sugardaddy’s is a local chain that serves up a host of specialty brownies that are not only ridiculously tasty, but also perfectly round. These “sumptuous sweeties” come in three different categories: brunettes, blondes, and fire & spice. A friend and I tried out two amazing desserts (pictured below): the Caramel Brunette (left) and the Tahiti Blonde (right). Paired with a small carton of milk, these treats were just the pick-me-up we needed in the middle of a busy afternoon. As if the food wasn’t enough incentive to get yourself down to a Sugardaddy’s near you, the decor was also very hip: multiple shades of pink, swirly designs, and trendy lighting accents created a really fun and contemporary feel.

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Sugardaddy's Sumptuous Sweeties on Urbanspoon

a brownie dressed in a cookie

photo by Anne Jansen

When I went to Brewzzi, I couldn’t resist ordering the Brewzzi Brownie in a Cookie Jacket. Yes, you read that right — this delicious brownie, made from Ghirardelli chocolate, has a chocolate chip cookie baked around it. The entire delicious baked treat is served warm, topped with a generous helping of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, and drizzled with chocolate and caramel drizzled. I know it sounds a bit overly-sweet, but with a tall glass of ice cold milk it was the perfect way to end a great day!

sweet sweets

Photo by Anne Jansen

I’ve been hearing about Pistacia Vera ever since I moved to Columbus, and I ate there for the first time last month. Why I ever waited so long is beyond me — just look at the Chocolate Bombe (pictured above) in all its glory. I can’t even begin to describe the beauty of eating that luscious dessert. But since I went with three other people, we each got a dessert so we got to sample four different treats!

Photo by Anne Jansen

The Flourless Truffle pictured here was amazing. With flavors of chocolate and raspberry and passion fruit, it was a dessert I’d fight someone for. Seriously — I couldn’t believe how delicious it was. Just look at those layers of rich flavor…. And to counter the richness of the Flourless Truffle, I ordered the Lemon Tart (pictured below).

Photo by Anne Jansen

It was a refreshing and light tart that really hit the spot on that particularly humid September afternoon. The crust was also scrumptious. I mean, just look at it! How can you not want to stick a fork in that? And of course, the last of the four desserts: the Pistachio Strawberry Dacquoise.

Photo by Anne Jansen

Yum. I mean, words can’t describe what a tasty treat Pistacia Vera is. I’d recommend it to anyone who’s ever enjoyed anything sweet at all. And as if the food wasn’t enough, this little dessert boutique is decorated in a simple but contemporary style that shows off the old brickwork in the building, but highlights the natural light pouring in from Third Street in the German Village with its floor-to-ceiling windows and wrap-around view. If you haven’t gone here, you really should! (And if you’ve already gone there, go back!)

nice ice

photo by Anne Jansen

If you’ve ever been to Columbus, Ohio, you have probably heard of Jeni’s Ice Cream — an amazing local ice cream chain that serves up some of the most inventive and tasty flavors ever. Take the ice cream in the picture above: the top flavor is (obviously) chocolate — Jeni’s signature Askinosie Dark Milk Chocolate; the flavor on the bottom is Jeni’s seasonal Sweet Corn & Black Raspberries. The official description of that flavor, taken directly from their website, says that “Buttery, milky sweet corn gives way flawlessly to sweet-tart black raspberry jam. Breath of honey on the finish.” Mmm mmm mmm! And it’s tasty, too! Add to that the company’s policy of using local and organic ingredients, and you’ll understand why this ice creamery is one of the most popular places in Columbus.

fair food

photo by Anne Jansen

I went to my first-ever state fair yesterday, and it was the Ohio State Fair. Of course, Ohio being the Buckeye State, a friend encouraged me to try the fried buckeyes. While the buckeye nut is poisonous, nobody eats it — instead, they eat a dessert called buckeyes (peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate). I was apprehensive at first, but as soon as I saw them batter the buckeyes, I knew it was going to be delicious. The chocolate coating on the buckeyes melted right into the batter upon frying, leaving the peanut butter ball soft and warm. The powdered sugar and chocolate syrup topping off this treat-on-a-toothpick just made it that much more scrumptious.Another state fair delicacy I experienced was cotton candy…but this was no ordinary cotton candy. No, this treat is un-dyed cotton candy made from maple sugar. For the first time in my life, I realized just how appropriate the name “cotton candy” is for this sugary treat. Just look at the picture below, and you’ll understand how I initially mistook this sweet for a bag of actual cotton. The maple sugar gave it a distinctive flavor (if you’ve ever had maple syrup, this should be too difficult to imagine), and it was as light and fluffy as this carnival dessert always is.

photo by Anne Jansen

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