Let's hear it for the Maya, those resourceful ancient Mexicans credited with inventing hot chocolate. Originally made with ground cocoa seeds, the beverage was bitter at birth; sugar was added only after the Spanish conquistadors brought the drink back to Europe.
These days, hot chocolate can be made with cocoa powder, chopped chocolate or both, combined with heated milk or cream. Inhale its deeply sweet, earthy scent.
Purists may prefer simplicity, but those who like bells and whistles will appreciate the fancy hot chocolate drinks at the following places:
49 Audrey Ave., Oyster Bay
INFO 516-922-2002, chocolateladyboutique.com
DRINK Ice cream bar hot chocolate. Chocolatier Lee Perrotta uses her great aunt's five-chocolate recipe. Before topping the drink with fresh whipped cream and dark chocolate curls, she plunges an ice cream bar inside; it froths and only partially melts, producing hot and cold in each sip.
SEATING Takeout only.
INFO 516-328-2253, thecupcakecornergc.com
DRINK Hot cocoa float. At this sweet little cafe (serving more than just cupcakes), the chefs have their own recipe that combines cocoa powder with chopped milk and dark chocolates, to which steamed milk is added. House-made ice cream goes in before whipped cream and toppings (chocolate or caramel) are drizzled over all, making for a heady mix of textures and temperatures.
SEATING Cafe tables and takeout.
Drink Moccachino. This crepe-centric restaurant chops dark Belgian chocolate and combines it with steamed milk, amping it up with a shot of espresso. Served in a tall parfait glass, it's finished with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup.
SEATING Table service and takeout at both locations.
72 Broadway, Greenlawn
INFO 631-425-1885, azurechocolat.com
DRINK Parisian hot chocolate: Anyone who has ever indulged in the thick, ultrarich and creamy hot chocolate of France will want to track down this Long Island version from chocolatier Heather Foley, who uses two kinds of dark Belgian chocolate to make the drink, done with a dulce de leche base and milk (there's also a nondairy version with rice milk); house-made marshmallows on top are optional.
SEATING Takeout only.
COST $3 (extra 25 cents for marshmallows).
597 Route 25A, Rocky Point
INFO 631-849-4771, sweetsofthespoon.com.
DRINK Caramel cocoa. At this ice cream parlor/cafe, a blend of imported cocoa powder is mixed with steamed milk and caramel syrup, topped off with freshly whipped cream and a caramel drizzle. The result is both creamy and frothy.
SEATING At granite-topped tables; takeout, too.
COST $2.95 for 12 ounces.
342 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO 631-470-2579, chipndipped.com
Drink Sea-salted caramel hot chocolate. This Huntington chocolatier starts with ground house-made semisweet chocolate that's combined with steamed milk. Next, all-natural caramel syrup is added before the drink is topped with whipped cream, caramel sauce and a sprinkling of sea salt.
SEATING Cafe tables.
COST Small, $3.80; medium, $4.18; large, $4.56
Ms. Michelle's Urban Gourmet
572 Middle Rd., Bayport
INFO 631-472-2524, msmichellesurbangourmet.com
DRINK Those intolerant of gluten and dairy products will be able to drink the rich hot chocolate sold at this new grab-and-go spot. It's made with melted dark chocolate and nondairy cream and can be topped with whipped nondairy cream or a chocolate-based whip.
SEATING To go only.