In the center part of North America, as the weather begins to cool down and holiday music echoes abound , the smell of hot chocolate also begins to fill the air. Hot chocolate, also known as hot cocoa, is a sweet chocolate-based beverage that’s commonly consumed  during the holiday season. The drink is often paired with marshmallows, which are small, white, chewy candies that resemble cotton. The taste is most easily described as liquified, sweetened chocolate. The drink itself isn’t particularly thick (depending on the variation), but the taste of chocolate is its most defining factor.
Hot chocolate in one form or another exists in many cultures, popular variations including Mexican hot chocolate, French hot chocolate, and even Irish hot chocolate. However, for many in the US, a cup of hot chocolate brings to mind white, wintry days coupled with holiday music and seasonal cheer. The origin story of hot chocolate is debated, although what is certain is that it made its way to North America via the Dutch.
The Cold Counterpart
Unlike coffee, which can be consumed iced or hot, there’s no such thing as a “cold” hot chocolate. The closest counterpart , its cousin, so-to-speak, is chocolate milk-- which is essentially cow’s milk combined with a chocolate syrup. However, even chocolate milk is not quite identical flavorwise to the magic that is a fresh cup of hot cocoa on a winter’s day.
As with any sweet treat, it’s an experience that must be had first-hand . If you find yourself at a cafe on a cold winter’s day in the US, consider ordering a hot cocoa. Hold it tightly in your gloved hands and let the steam warm you as you explore the city. Let its taste and warmth become a part of your flavor memory, as well.