NATIONAL COCOA DAY
A cold December day is the perfect time to make yourself a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy National Cocoa Day. Each year on December 13, people across the country celebrate their favorite cold weather comfort drink.
Hot cocoa is a warm beverage made with cocoa powder, heated milk or water, and sugar. The terms hot chocolate and hot cocoa are often used interchangeably by Americans causing a bit of confusion. To make hot chocolate, we use ground chocolate which contains cocoa butter. It’s mixed with hot milk and is actually a drinking chocolate.
Hot chocolate is a richer beverage made from ground chocolate which contains cocoa butter. Mixed with hot milk, the resulting mug is full of chocolate flavor and the fat and calories that come with it.
Hot chocolate is also known as drinking chocolate.
Hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder. Through the fermentation, drying, roasting and grinding process of cocoa beans a paste called chocolate liquor is produced. Through another method, the cocoa butter is separated leaving cocoa powder. It is this cocoa powder that we use to make hot cocoa. It has very little fat and calories and is mixed with either hot milk or water.
Both are enjoyed in a variety of combinations, topped with whipped cream or marshmallows. Sometimes a sprinkle of cinnamon or a dash of peppermint makes the chocolate extra special.
It is believed that 2000 years ago the first chocolate beverage was created by the Mayas and a cocoa beverage was an essential part of Aztec culture by 1400 AD. Europe popularized the drink after it was introduced from Mexico in the New World and it has undergone multiple changes since then. Up until the 19th century, hot chocolate was used medicinally to treat ailments such as stomach diseases.
In the United States, an instant form of the drink is popular. It is made with hot water or milk and a packet containing mostly cocoa powder, sugar, and dry milk. People enjoy topping it with marshmallows or whipped cream.
There are health benefits to drinking hot cocoa. Cocoa contains significant amounts of antioxidants that may help prevent cancer. It has also been shown that the cocoa beans help with digestion. The flavonoids that are found in the cocoa also have a positive effect on arterial health.
We have found a few of the best spots to go to in the San Diego area to find the best hot chocolate for today!
Photo: Eclipse Chocolat
Touted by Travel and Leisure as one of America’s best hot chocolates, EclipseChocolat knows a thing or two about satisfying a sweet tooth. While the kids are sucking down the drinkable chocolates, take a minute to browse through their entire selection of hand crafted edibles. They’re known for infusing chocolate with herbs and spices so don’t be afraid to get daring.
2145 Fern St.
San Diego, Ca 92104
Go in for the drinkable chocolate, go out with the pretzel toffee twirl bark. Chuao Chocolatier will impress you with their sophisticated flavor selections, but this Chocolatier grew it’s roots in Encinitas and is still the same family-friendly chocolate-loving boutique (just with another location and a successful wholesale business).
Sweet note: Unless your kiddo likes spicy food, it’s best to stick with Deluxious Dark since the Spicy Maya is not for the faint of tongue.
3485 Del Mar Heights Rd.
Carmel Valley, Ca
937 S. Coast Highway 101, Suite C-109
Photo: Mitchel L. via Yelp
Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop
Few places conjurer up a magical atmosphere as well as this old-fashioned ice cream parlor and chocolate shop. While Ghirardelli is most known for its ice cream, their hot chocolate is equally delicious. The Lumbard Hot Chocolate, a hot cup of steamed milk that comes with a few pieces of milk chocolate that you open and put into the drink. Kids will love this idea of creating their own hot chocolate and seeing the white milk change to tasty chocolate.
Sweet note: Check in using Yelp and you can receive a discount on your in-store purchase!
643 5th Ave.
San Diego, Ca
Photo: D.P. via Yelp
Carlsbad Chocolate Bar
Nestled in Carlsbad Village, this chocolate shop serves up a delicious cup of hot chocolate. The locals love this spot for the bulk candy, pet treats and personalized gifts. And, this chocolate bar knows that nothing goes better with chocolate than a bottle of vino, that’s why they have a great selection of retail wines and sparkling wines that you can purchase and take with you.
Sweet note: The store also has a fabulous gift selection. Stock up now for Valentine’s Day, teacher appreciation and remember it for Mother’s Day.
2998 State St.
If you are in the downtown area, Chocolat Cremerie should be on your list of places to grab a cup of hot chocolate. This little shop was voted one of the best bistros in San Diego.
Sweet note: You may want to save room for more than hot cocoa since the cafe is also famous for their gelato selection.
509 5th Ave.
San Diego, Ca
Photo: Chi Chocolat
Dedicated to helping you reach your chocolate bliss, this Liberty Station chocolatier serves up several varieties of hot cocoa. Their smooth and chocolatey drinks can be made with different spices and flavors, such as cinnamon, cardamom or vanilla. Parents don’t have to go without as Chi Chocolat has delicious mochas and lattes as well.
Sweet note: Chi Chocolat offers chocolate tastings conducted by a chocolatier. A fun idea for parties or events, the tasting is offered on-site or off-site.
2690 Historic Decatur Rd.
Liberty Station (Point Loma), Ca