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Five of the Best: Places to find top-notch hot choc in Cambridge

“Utter the words ‘hot chocolate’, I’m listening. Add ‘made with ganache’ and I’m invested. Throw being a Cambridge icon into the mix? Stick a receipt on me, because I’M SOLD.” Cambridge Food Blog’s Gracie Mills shares her five favourite hot chocolate spots

Have you ever seen the film Chocolat? The one where a super-chic single mother (Juliette Binoche) moves to a remote French town and opens up a chocolate shop, just as Lent is beginning. What follows is a story of passion (hello devilishly handsome Johnny Depp), temperance and love. Whilst their arrival initially causes a bit of a ruckus, the chocolate shop ends up not only satisfying sugar cravings but healing family fractions. How - quite literally - sweet.

In the film, Binoche’s character spins an ornament and tentative customers gaze into the whirling pattern. She asks them what they see and, when they tell her, she tells them what their favourite chocolate treat is. It’s a bit like an animated Rorschach test or those TikToks which tell you what sort of sandwich you are based on your star sign. Anyway, the anxious customers try their assigned goodie and a look of sheer contentment and peace falls in a veil over their face. Almost as if the chocolate is medicinal, healing parts they didn’t even know were broken.

THAT is what a good hot chocolate does.

Jack's Gelato Credit @cambridgefoodblog
Jack's Gelato Credit @cambridgefoodblog

Jack’s Gelato
If you don’t like your hot chocolate sweet, then you’re in luck. If you do like your hot chocolate sweet, then you’re in luck. Jack’s Gelato has the perfect Goldilocks hot chocolate menu. Not too big that the choices are overwhelming, but big enough that there’s pretty much a choice for whatever mood you’re in.
One of my favourite things is that they have a very small cup option. For that little indulgent hit when you don’t want to indulge yourself too much. Their Pump Street hot choc is a thinner, 100% single origin number for those that like their chocolate on the purer end of the scale. Personal faves for me are the white chocolate and cardamom and the milk hot chocolate with a fat old marshmallow plopped in.

Knoops Credit @knoopschocolate
Knoops Credit @knoopschocolate

You’d be disappointed if this place disappointed. It’s a shop li-ter-ally dedicated to hot chocolate and I personally think they nail it. I imagine customers fall into two categories; those who choose a different cocoa percentage each time they visit and those who have the same thing every time they go.
So far I have been the former. White chocolate with lemon. Dark chocolate with orange. Milk chocolate with sea salt. As with most nominations on this month’s list, they use actual chocolate to make their mix - none of this powder rubbish! I was fortunate enough to meet Mr Knoops himself at the opening of their Cambridge branch and the passion and care for the brand and the drinks they were making was evident and endearing in equal measure.

Aromi Credit @smoothiebowlsssss
Aromi Credit @smoothiebowlsssss

Okay, let’s move toward a more European vibe for our next hot chocolate fix. If you’re a fan of pistachio, then there’s a high chance you’re already heading toward Aromi. Pistachio cannoli, pistachio gelato, pistachio croissants, they’ve got the lot! You probably don’t need Mystic Meg (throwback) to guess what I’m about to say next… pistachio hot chocolate. Chocolate and nut products: it just works, people!

Biscotti di Debora Credit @biscottdidebora
Biscotti di Debora Credit @biscottdidebora

Biscotti di Debora
Okay, this might be a little bit controversh, but most articles I have a wild card and this is it this time around. Why is it my wild card? Well. . . truth be told. . . I haven’t actually been here yet. Now, before you scoff and chuck me to one side, let me just say that this hot chocolate is as fresh to the scene as the cream it's topped with.
When I put the call out for people’s top HC recommendations, I received a lot of tags and comments about this place. Opening every Saturday in Dry Drayton, 10am-4pm, Debora serves artisan pastries, gourmet doughnuts and, you guessed it, thick (emphasis on the k) hot chocolate. I mean, look at it. Let’s all go try it out, shall we?

Fitzbillies Credit @aidaramadhian
Fitzbillies Credit @aidaramadhian

Utter the words ‘hot chocolate’, I’m listening. Add ‘made with ganache’ and I’m invested. Throw being a Cambridge icon into the mix? Stick a receipt on me, because I’M SOLD. I love sitting in the window of Fitzbillies, either branch, and watching the world pass by as I lick a whipped cream moustache off my lips. It gives me proper main character energy. They’ve just opened up a new site down King’s Parade too, so there’s nothing stopping you doing a hot chocolate crawl to all three?

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