Anyone who has seen the film Chocolat will understand the allure of a perfect cup of hot chocolate. Rich and luscious, it can be as comforting as a cup of tea, or as fortifying as a shot of espresso. Even Judi Dench was helpless to its powers.
It is the glass slipper of hot drinks in many ways, loved by children and adults alike, but finding one that hits the spot just right is a task for a fairy godmother. Here is our round-up of some of the best hot chocolate spots in Ireland.
Accents Coffee and Tea Lounge, Dublin
This Dublin spot beloved by students takes the classic hot chocolate back to basics, serving customers a generous mug of foaming hot milk and a dish of chocolate buttons, either milk, dark or white, for you to stir in.
This is hot chocolate your way, right down to how you stir the chocolaty pebbles in, spoonful by spoonful, dotted on the top of the milk to melt or dunked into the very middle.
O'Conaill Chocolate, Cork
It would be a special kind of tragedy to be served bad hot chocolate in a specialty chocolate shop, but thankfully this isn't the case with O'Conaill's in Cork. This is a shrine to the cocoa bean, as they make their own chocolates and chocolate bars, hand-wrapped in stunning labels.
Even better, you can buy bags of the chocolate buttons like coffee beans, choosing from the usual three options with blends of each available too. Like the richness of dark chocolate but the sweetness of milk? No problem, the milk and dark bag is for you.
Dolce Sicily, Dubin
If you're the type of person to sit on a chocolate bar just to squeeze it, melted and runny, right into your mouth, we have the hot chocolate for you.
Run by Italians, Dolce Sicily is home to not one, but two varieties of hot chocolate, and while both are delicious we're drawn time and again to the sinfully rich Italian hot chocolate. Made in the traditional way with chocolate, milk, double cream, and cornstarch to thicken it, Cioccolata Calda is thick enough to stand a spoon in and is more like a chocolate soup.
Hazel Mountain Chocolate, Galway
As Ireland's first and only bean to bar chocolate factory, Hazel Mountain Chocolate is a destination for any and all chocolate lovers, especially for its hot chocolate. All cocoa beans come directly from growers and are roasted on site, creating a truly special chocolate experience.
Nestled in the Burren, their café is the perfect place for you to curl up with a mug of hot chocolate, some exceptional gluten-free bakes and a truffle or two.
Cocoa Atelier, Dublin
Inspired by the boutique chocolateries of France, Cocoa Atelier is the closest thing to Angelina's, the famed Parisian bakery, Dublin has, and its hot chocolate is just as good as that iconic spot's. Come for the artfully made truffles and macarons, stay for the luscious, frothy and indulgent hot chocolate, which comes topped with one plush marshmallow.
If you find yourself a little hooked, don't worry: they sell the hot chocolate in bottles for those moments you need a pick-me-up at home.
Brother Hubbard, Dublin
Speaking of getting hooked, while I was in college I developed an unashamed dependency on these mugs of steamed chocolate milk and glossy chocolate ganache, their sugary richness fueling every essay I turned in. The trick to this is, of course, the intensity of pairing chocolate milk with velvety ganache, which melts once it hits the steamed milk.
Pro tip: Order a brownie and pour some of the hot milk over it to create an even more gooey treat.
L'Art du Chocolat, Maynooth
Drawing from their national traditions, Nicolas Bateau and Cyril Borie have brought the spirit of French chocolateries from Bayonne to Maynooth. Bayonne is known as the chocolate capital of France, and that influence is alive and well in their intricate pastries, truffles and hot chocolate.
Hot chocolate has its own menu here, with six varieties of chocolate available to be melted down and whipped into a frenzy, including Caramel, Gianduja Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate and Orange just some of the options.
Cupán Tae, Galway
What's more decadent than a cup of molten chocolate and frothed milk? A cup of molten chocolate and frothed milk served in a tearoom that looks like a set from Beauty and the Beast. This is exactly what Cupán Tae looks like, it's main room as sweet as its sweet treats.
Don't be fooled by the dainty cups and gold-flecked dishes: ordering a hot chocolate will result in a mammoth cup loaded with dozens of mini marshmallows, oozing in shades of pink and white.