Feeling the chill? It’s the perfect weather in BC for brewing up some hot chocolate – and if you’re in Vancouver, there’s an even more decadent way to fend off the cold while supporting local businesses: Vancouver’s 2016 Hot Chocolate Festival.
Now in its 6th year, this beloved local festival unites restaurants and cafés around the city. Between January 16th and Valentine’s Day, February 14th, participants sell their own special twist on a classic cup of hot chocolate – which part of the festival proceeds are donated to a local charity. This year, 5% of the proceeds from the sale of all festival drinks will go to East Van Roaster’s social enterprise employment program, which benefits marginalized women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
59 delicious flavours are on offer at this year’s festival. Besides benefitting a good cause, the festival is a chance to support local darlings like Terra Breads, Bella Gelateria or 49th Parallel, and to sample hot chocolate flavours like maple, lavender, smoke, raspberries or miso in unexpected pairings.
For a taste of what’s in store, we talked to Mink Chocolates’ president and founder Marc Lieberman. His sumptuous chocolate café will be offering two drinks throughout the festival: “The first is a Valrhona Caramelia chocolate topped with Fluff that we’ll torch with a crème brûleé torch, and serve with a sparkle stick. The second drink is organic butternut squash and almond milk dark hot chocolate, served with a smoked oyster.” Hot chocolate with a smoked oyster and squash? “Like the crickets last year, and the Paula Deen White Trash Trainwreck the year before, I try and shake things up a bit.”
If you’re not able to get to Vancouver during the hot chocolate festival, whip up a cup of your own at home! Since milk in BC (that includes white & flavoured milk and cream) is produced locally, you can feel good about making your brew a little indulgent. We’ve posted our Very Best Hot Chocolate recipe for you, and for even more grown-up tastes, try Polar Bear Hot Chocolate. If you’re making this with impatient little ones, gently heating chocolate milk from a jug on the stovetop will get you from frozen toes to happy kids in under 2 minutes.
What’s your favourite local place to get your hot chocolate fix? Let us know (and please share your home-grown creations!) on our Facebook Page or Twitter feed. We’ve also been pinning some of our favourite hot chocolate recipes and tips here in case you are following along on Pinterest.