If it’s a pure, grown-up hot chocolate you’re after, then head to one of award-winning chocolatier Paul A Young’s three shops in Angel, Soho or Bank. You won’t find any milk, cream or fluffy marshmallows in this rich, viscous drink – only water, dark chocolate, cocoa powder and sugar. Young’s “Aztec-style” brew is clean in taste and lingers long on the palate, but for extra warmth and depth you can add spices such as green cardamom, cinnamon or nutmeg – or a pinch of sea salt to really lift the flavour.
143 Wardour Street, W1F 8WA, 020 7437 0011; www.paulayoung.co.uk
Pierre Hermé at Sofitel St James
Another milk-free version of hot chocolate can be found at the Sofitel St James courtesy of Pierre Hermé, whose “préparation pour chocolat chaud infiniment chocolat” is made with 67 per cent cocoa and served hot or cold. Best enjoyed as part of the Sofitel afternoon goûter experience, alongside savoury brioche mousseline and a superb chocolate shortbread speckled with fleur de sel.
The Balcon, Sofitel London St James, 6 Waterloo Place, SW1Y 4AN, 020 7747 2200; www.sofitel.com
Rococo is known for its whimsical designs but it takes a serious approach to hot chocolate, offering both intense espresso shots and more indulgent milky versions. There’s also a sea-salt option for those who like their drink less saccharine. Available in Rococo’s flagship Belgravia store only.
5 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8JU, 020 7245 0993; www.rococochocolates.com
Master patissier William Curley’s boutique and dessert bar in Belgravia serves up a decadent drink made with Amadei chocolate. If this doesn’t sate your hunger for chocolate, you can buy mixes – such as chilli, Mayan or gianduja – to make the drink at home. On weekends, Curley’s dessert bar is also open, serving his expertly crafted pastries.
198 Ebury Street, SW1W 8UN, 0207 730 5522; www.williamcurley.com
The Fields Beneath
The Fields Beneath is a friendly neighbourhood coffee shop that also makes a superb milky hot chocolate. Using Kokoa Collection’s range of single-origin chocolates designed specifically for drinking, this Kentish Town outfit proffers everything from a white hot chocolate with vanilla to a darker 70 per cent Ecuadorian that’s popular with coffee drinkers. If you like a good strong hot chocolate that’s not too sweet, then go for the 82 per cent Madagascan.
The Fields Beneath, 52 Prince of Wales Road, NW5 3NL, 07912 435754
Signe Johansen is author of ‘Scandilicious Baking’ (Saltyard Books, £25)