January 29, 2011

Hot Chocolate Wars: Rage On

Last weekend I finally got to Naked Chocolate to try their renowned, signature beverage and enter it into 22nd & Philly's hot chocolate war. It was 11am and for me this was breakfast, so I didn't go for the cupcakes or other dessert-ish goodies and opted for a chocolate chip scone instead.

One of Naked Chocolate's claims to fame is that they serve European style h.c., which is much thicker and richer than what Americans are used to. Having spent several cold months in France during college, I had my share of Euro-style h.c. and frankly didn't care for it much, so I was glad to see that Naked Chocolate offers an "American" version too. Call me boring, but you should drink what you like, no?

Still, their American is much thicker than you get other places. What you see above is the medium size, which was ok but at the end of a cup of h.c. I am always left wanting more, so I would pick the large next time. They have creative names for the sizes that I can't remember but the large is something like "Promise I won't tell anyone..." I also got the traditional flavor, but they have a few interesting options that add different spices to the h.c. Some sounded more appetizing than others. Next time.

A nice perk is that they put the giant wad of whipped cream ON THE SIDE. I don't understand why people add a fistful of whipped cream to their h.c. In my opinion, it cools it down too much and only adds calories instead of flavor. You can barely see it behind the glass above, but I was glad to see it over there and not floating on top of my cup, forcing me to slyly scoop it off onto a napkin, Jersey diner-style.

Scone was, eh, a scone. They usually don't do much for me, but it was the only breakfasty thing offered (Naked Chocolate doesn't do bagels or other cafe foods). I would definitely like to go back for the cupcakes which looks aaaaaamazing and come in all sorts of wonderful flavors. Chocolate and peanut butter has a permanent place in my heart.
Their selection of candy is also huge and you can actually see some of it being made through a glass window at the back of the store. They've got all the usual types - bon-bons, barks and bars - but their range of flavors is really impressive. I don't know what Hawaiian Lava Salt is but it must be pretty damn good at $22.95/lb. I'd try one!

And they have chocolate in fun shapes that would be great gifts, like Eiffel Towers and Liberty Bells. Could be a good wedding favor, if you have a decent budget. Chocolate cell phones and iPods below. Can you imagine getting a chocolate iPad? That would be a huge chunk of chocolate. 

Naked Chocolate has a ton of tables inside that actually block the door now, so you have to enter the larger building next to it, and go through an inside entrance. On the way, you can't help but notice the pastel-infused FroYo place that took over Bonte's former space next door. I walked by there with a friend recently who commented that they would literally have to double that place as a functioning sauna for her to set foot in there right now (it was about 12 degrees out). I don't know why FroYo places bother turning the lights on in winter.

I was glad to finally give Naked Chocolate a try but definitely think it's a novelty. I'll stick to Starbucks or even Swiss Miss for my daily h.c. fix, but would hit up Naked Chocolate on special occasions or to meet friends.

Oh, and I am not going to make a huge deal about it, but I will NEVER get h.c. from La Colombe again. It comes unsweetened, which is just dumb. Who knows how much sugar to add to h.c.? Too much unnecessary work. And the cup I got was barely even lukewarm, which did not bode well since they day I got it was approx -2 degrees. In the hot chocolate war, you are bound win some and lose some, right?

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