Dec. 12, 2012 - Issue #895-Japandroids
Not your average hot chocolate
New takes on a winter favourite
The popsicles, which become hot chocolate when mixed with milk or water, differ from other hot chocolates, as the popsicles contain no powder, explains Tom Lim, co-owner of T.H.I.S. Place café along with Trudie Yeung.
"As a child, all we ever knew was powder," Lim recalls.
These popsicles take the form of real chocolate cubes on a popsicle stick. In the case of the gingerbread popsicle—one of the holiday specials at T.H.I.S. Place—the chocolate and spice cube hugs a stick of cinnamon. Mix this into hot milk or water and you have a luxurious, creamy beverage.
For Lim, the inspiration for creating rich, silky hot chocolate came from visiting Europe. There, he encountered nothing powdered and enjoyed the social camaraderie Europeans embraced while gathering over a hot beverage.
"Your memory of the conversation is heightened because of all the good food and drink," Lim notes.
Chatting over hot chocolate is what we are doing now. I'm sipping a cup of the creamy gingerbread hot chocolate, rich with ginger and cinnamon topped with milk foam. Lim tells me about other flavours of popsicles that the two-month-old café offers: almond, peppermint, spicy chili, as well as dark, milk and white chocolate.
Our conversation switches to the café itself. A Buddhist, Lim notes that Buddhism inspired the café's décor, with exposed concrete, clean white walls and painted wooden booths adorning the newly opened space.
"It's a positive, clean energy," Lim says. "The décor is inspired by simplicity."
Before I leave, Lim offers me a popsicle to take home and I select the milk-chocolate one. Mixed into hot whole milk, this one is deliciously creamy.
South of the river, Block 1912 is offering rotating hot chocolate specials during the holidays. Bryan Saunders, the café's community manager, explains that cookies were the inspiration behind many of the beverages.
"The inspiration was making food into a drink and that translation," Saunders says.
For example, there's the chocolate-gingerbread latté and the decadent S'more in a Cup. This creation steams together chocolate milk, Kahlua, and Bailey's. The rim of the cup is dipped in chocolate sauce and graham crackers while a toasted marshmallow on a toothpick can be used for stirring. Saunders recommends leaving the marshmallow in the cup right until the drink is finished—the marshmallow will soak up the alcohol.
"You then have a wonderfully alcoholic marshmallow at the end of your drink," he laughs. "I learned that from experience."
However, cookies didn't inspire all the holiday specials at Block 1912. For example: The Nightmare Before Christmas. Mixing chocolate milk and espresso, a toasted marshmallow and orange and black sprinkles, this holiday beverage channels the classic Tim Burton film.
I try the homemade eggnog. Delicious with a shot of brandy, this drink has a spicier flavour and lighter texture than the store-bought variety. Oh, this is much better.
I also sample the lavender white mocha, a hot chocolate available year-round and one that Saunders loves.
"It's like putting flowers into a drink."
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