Winter in Quebec City is picturesque, especially during evenings when big white snowflakes fall slowly from the sky. At that moment, it feels as though Mother Nature has created a sound proof environment where only the sole of your boots shrieking on the snow-covered sidewalks resonates.
Winter in Quebec City is romantic, especially because of its European charm. Walking hand in hand along the Old-Port’s 400 year-old cobblestone streets can feel like a scene taken out of a cheesy telenovela, but experiencing it makes for the greatest memories. Doesn’t romance, winter and love call for a cup of hot chocolate?
What makes a great cup of hot chocolate?
Like everything in cuisine, those who care for serving a good cup of hot chocolate will definitely care for the origin of the cocoa, because the type of cocoa powder used in a recipe has a direct effect on the result. Cocoa powder provides the rich, deep flavor of a hot chocolate, where the use of pellets, milk and/or cream give it texture and charm. Where cocoa powder is key to quality in a hot chocolate, sweetness seals the deal. The better the cocoa, the less sweet the cup of hot chocolate.
I based my search for Quebec City’s best hot chocolate on three criteria: texture, sweetness and complexity. In matter of fairness, I only considered the original or what most call the à l’ancienne recipes. After a month’s worth of tasting (on location and to go) and a few hundred dollars spent during the process, I can objectively say that I have listed below the best cups of hot chocolate available in Quebec City.
8 Rue Saint Antoine, Old-Port
The most elegant cup of hot chocolate you’ll find in Quebec City is at Café-bar Artéfact of l’Auberge Saint-Antoine. A refined, thick, rich, flavourful cup of hot chocolate made with 75% dark chocolate from Tanzania, cocoa powder from Provence’s la Chocolaterie de l’Opéra and a dollop of cream. For 17$ you’ll get an authentic French chocolatière filled with creamy hot chocolate and a serving of churros. One serving is enough for three people. You can also use the hot chocolate as a dipping sauce for the churros. It is incredibly good, and although it sounds like it is more a dessert than a drink, it isn’t.
*I kept some leftover hot chocolate in my fridge overnight. The next morning, it was literally a cup of chocolate cream! Tastes as good when cold.
634, rue Saint-Jean, Faubourg Saint-Jean-Baptiste
Erico serves the most addictive cup of hot chocolate in Quebec City. The “original blend” called Erico consists of a ganache-like mixture of 71% cocoa pellets where about a ¼ milk is incorporated to the mix. It is smooth, elegant and its texture covers all of my mouth with one sip. A complex concoction without the overwhelming taste of cream. In other words, the perfect cup of hot chocolate! Erico has a great variety of flavours where some mixtures incorporate cocoa powder that brings an extra hint of bitterness. My favourite is Aztec, because I like hot & spicy! A small cup sells for 3,95$
783, Saint-Joseph est, Saint-Roch
Huge coup de coeur for this cup of hot chocolate, especially because it is less sweet than any other I have tasted in Quebec City. The À l’Ancienne mix is half 99% pure cocoa powder and half ground 70% chocolate mixed with a little milk. The texture of Champagne Chocolatier‘s hot chocolate was a little grainy, but with every sip followed an intense dark chocolate rush that truly charmed my taste buds. Kudos on the temperature as well, the best in all this list.
A small cup sells for 2,45$, which makes it the best bargain of all!
-1550 boul. Lebourgneuf, Lebourgneuf
-46, boul. Champlain, Old-Port
-46, boul. R.-Lévesque Ouest, Montcalm
-1326, avenue Maguire, Sillery
Love at first sip. A thick liquid covered my mouth which once swallowed, left a pleasant, slightly bitter and sweet chocolate taste on my tongue. The Cochon Dingue‘s hot chocolate is made Canada’s famous Laura Secord chocolate: pellets, powder, milk and cream. Its the sweetest of the list and calls for a glass of water. Highly recommended during Carnaval, because when I ordered to go, it was so hot I had to let it sit in my car for about 10 minutes before I could handle a first sip. A great solution to keeping your hands warm while walking through the old city.
-235 St-Joseph est, Saint-Roch
-1001 3e Ave, Limoilou
Nektar‘s cup of hot cocoa has a perfectly-balanced cocoa powder/sugar/chocolate ratio made entirely from Cocoa Barry products. A charming dark chocolate taste that doesn’t feel overwhelming nor heavy on the tastebuds. But, Nektar’s hot chocolate needs a little time and spoon action to be appreciated to its fullest. Since it isn’t served very hot, the big chocolate pellets don’t melt very quickly. When I took my hot chocolate to go, the last sip was only melted chocolate. Oh the horror of my life! ;p A medium cup of hot chocolate sells for 4,85$.
Ninkasi Bouffe & Café
840 ave Honoré-Mercier, Faubourg Saint-Jean Baptiste
Ninkasi’s hot chocolate isn’t the creamier version, but does it ever taste good! A bitter and slightly acidic chocolate taste without the heavyness of cream.The recipe: a ganache of dark chocolate pellets and cocoa powder mixed with 3,25% milk. Ninkasi Bouffe & Café‘s hot chocolate features the work of Carleton’s indie chocolate maker Chaleur B Chocolat, recently awarded as one of the world’s best chocolate. A medium cup sells for 4,25$.
Julie Vachon Chocolats
–Fromagerie des Grondines et ses amis: 199, rue St-Joseph est, Saint-Roch
–Julie Vachon Chocolats: 243, Chemin du Roy, Deschambault
Julie Vachon Chocolats makes her hot chocolate blend with tiny dark chocolate pellets, cocoa powder and sugar. Kudos on the smaller size of chocolate pellets, which melt much faster than Nektar’s. Unfortunately, both downtown locations served Julie Vachon Chocolat’s mix with way too much milk. A completely different experience when you go directly to Julie Vachon Chocolats headquarters in Deschambault. I highly recommend buying the mixture and making it at home, that way you can control the complexity you’re looking for. The hot chocolate mix is available to buy in Saint-Roch at Fromagerie des Grondines et ses amis. Order online here for 4$.