In the depths of a long, frosty Melbourne winter, there's nothing sweeter than a belly-warming sip of rich hot chocolate. Of course, this is Melbourne, so there's every chance that whichever hot chocolate you choose will actually be an amped-up version of the standard. Think warm drinks infused with spices, piled high with jazzy extras or served deconstructed, arriving at your table in a haze of smoke. Just how creative can the humble hot chocolate get? Hit these Melbourne cafés to find out.
Constantly reminding us that vegetarian food can be just as fun and fancy as the meaty stuff, Fitzroy's Transformer is knocking up a hot chocolate creation as decadent as any other around town. It's grown-up too, featuring a boozy hit of Sailor Jerry to really warm those cockles. What lands at the table is almost too pretty to destroy — a mousse-like mix of Mörk chocolate, peppermint, orange and cinnamon, topped with an edible flower and waiting to be doused with the accompanying blend of almond milk and rum. Added bonus: your vegan mates can drink it too.
If you need proof that Hash's flair for experimentation extends beyond specialty coffee and creative cafe fare, look no further than its most attention-grabbing (and relatively Instagram famous) hot chocolate creation. Arriving at the table as a bottle of rich, liquid chocolate and a cup holding a huge tower of fairy floss, this show-stopper promises to add a bit of theatre to your cafe session. The fun here lies in the pour — drizzle that molten mess over the mountain of sugar and watch it all capsize into a pool of decadence, with the sweet and bitter elements balanced in perfect harmony.
WEEKLY CHANGING HOT CHOCOLATE SPECIAL FROM DARLING ST ESPRESSO
Darling St Espresso is always keen to push the envelope a little bit further, both on their menu of clever brunch eats and across a tempting selection of liquid offerings. To sit alongside its classic hot choccie with toasted marshmallows and a white-chocolate-meets-fairy-floss version, the Moonee Ponds cafe is dreaming up a new, slightly outrageous hot chocolate special each week. Bound to cause some serious drink envy, these beauts come teamed with some very snazzy additions — expect the likes of a Ferrero Rocher-infused hot chocolate with peanut praline and a Nutella-filled waffle cone, and a cookies and cream number made on creamy white hot chocolate and piled high with Oreo pieces, chocolate bits and whipped cream. And, yes, one with pop rocks too.
If chocolate heaven exists, it's located on Errol Street in North Melbourne, at Mörk's specialty chocolate brewhouse. These guys are serving up cacao's answer to the specialty coffee movement, with their cafe "dedicated entirely to the art of liquid chocolate". Here, you'll find no shortage of mind-blowing hot chocolate variations to send your sweet tooth into a tizz, though the cult favourite Campfire Chocolate is a must. This one's a multi-sensory, DIY situation — pour thick, liquid chocolate over a glass filled with smoke, sprinkle over a pinch of the house-smoked salt, dip in the accompanying scorched marshmallow and find yourself transported to straight to some roaring campfire in the woods.
Think of this monster hot chocolate from Clifton Hill cafe Uncle Drew as the freakshake reimagined for a winter audience. An absolute whopper of a drink, it's got more ingredients than a MasterChef Pressure Test, and will probably take you just as long to finish. The impressive arrangement features a smoothie jar of lush hot chocolate, crowned with a full-sized brownie, a pile of whipped cream, toasted marshmallows and a hefty drizzle of melted chocolate. Best arrive hungry for this one.