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Published December 24, 2012, 10:30 PM

A hot item: Hot chocolate a popular drink purchase this time of the year

FARGO – As a drink, hot chocolate has come a long way since it was first consumed by the Mayans in Mexico and Central America (yes, those Mayans – the world is still here, and we’re sick and tired of hearing about them).

FARGO – As a drink, hot chocolate has come a long way since it was first consumed by the Mayans in Mexico and Central America (yes, those Mayans – the world is still here, and we’re sick and tired of hearing about them).

At that time, the drink was kept pretty simple, made with cocoa beans, water and some spices – though a more fitting name might have been cold cocoa, as the drink wasn’t heated.

Today it’s a favorite of the winter season, helping to warm us up when the temperatures plummet.

And of course, there are the important hot chocolate questions that the Mayans wouldn’t even have considered: Is it made with cocoa powder, chocolate syrup or just straight-up chocolate milk? And should it be topped with whipped cream or marshmallows?

At Babb’s Coffee House in Fargo, hot chocolate is made with milk, ground Ghirardelli chocolate and topped with a homemade whipped cream.

Joel Onsurez, the coffee shop’s owner, says the hot chocolate there can also be sweetened with various flavors depending on the season.

Baristas can add pumpkin, gingerbread, peppermint or even toasted marshmallow flavoring to give the hot chocolate an added flair, he says.

Not too surprisingly, hot chocolate is a big seller around coffee shops this time of the year, but Onsurez says the drink also sells well at Babb’s during other seasons.

“We sell a lot of hot chocolate even in the warm season because it’s a nice alternative to warm coffee,” he says.

At Nichole’s Fine Pastry in Fargo, owner Nichole Hensen says their drink is made with chocolate milk, although customers can also buy a packaged powder mix to bring home.

Customers can add the coffee shop’s homemade marshmallows, which Hensen says is always a popular item.

“We’re having a hard time keeping up with the supply of them,” she says. “We’re selling those faster than we’re making them.”

At bars or restaurants, hot chocolate makes an efficient spiked drink. All it takes is the addition of a flavorful liqueur like Bailey’s Irish Cream, Frangelico, Disaronno Amaretto or peppermint schnapps.

Lucky’s 13 in Fargo offers a special seasonal drink called Lucky’s Cocoa, made with hot chocolate, Frangelico and white cream de cacao, all topped with whipped cream.

A more creative take on adult hot chocolate is the decadent Campfire Cocoa at the HoDo Lounge in Fargo, made with cake vodka and hot chocolate with marshmallow crème, topped with chocolate whipped cream and a toasted graham cracker rim.

But whether it’s alcoholic or not, there’s no denying that for many, the taste of hot chocolate is a kind of throwback to the winter days of our youth.

That’s how it is for Onsurez, who says drinking hot chocolate reminds him of growing up in the Pacific Northwest.

“School’s canceled, we’re out freezing our buns off, and when we come back in mom’s got hot chocolate to warm us up,” he says. “Anytime I drink hot chocolate, that’s the first thing that comes to mind.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535

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