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Hot chocolates with marshmallows on top
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London’s best takeaway hot chocolates

Turn bleak lockdown walks into... slightly less bleak lockdown walks by topping them off with an unbeatable cup of cocoa

By Time Out London Food & Drink
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Hot chocolate. It’s a child’s drink, really – designed for consumption after a fall from the big slide rather than during an important meeting with the CEO. But now that a) we’re all spending endless hours outside and b) takeaway mulled wine is banned, the soothing bev is really coming into its own. It’s a warm treat that feels more special than a cup of tea and that can be enjoyed without the risk of a post-coffee existential crisis. And it makes a properly indulgent end-point for any winter lockdown walk. 

Luckily, London’s brilliant cafes and chocolatiers are known for serving up truly luxurious takes on the classic drink. From marshmallow-topped and cream-covered concoctions to seriously challenging brews (80 percent dark, anyone?), London has a selection of hot chocolates stupendous enough to warm anyone’s cockles in these winter months. We’ve tasted our way around the city’s finest chocolatiers and bijou cafés to find you the best. 

The best hot chocolates in London

Gail's

Restaurants British Queen’s Park

The snaking queues outside this London-wide cafe chain might have made a trip here a bit of a lockdown cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason. Alongside a tasty mix of pastries, cakes and sandwiches (and decent soup), you can rely on Gail's hot chocolate as a perfect mix of sweet, rich and creamy. The chain's oat milk option is particularly impressive.

Perky Blenders

It's no wonder that Perky Blenders has a cult following. Despite giving themselves a pun name with an extremely high risk of ageing badly, the coffee at this Walthamstow and Leyton mini chain is sure to stand the test of time. And the hot chocolate is just as perfect. In fact, it's so good (in a sweet, comforting and milky way) that once you've had one it'll be hard to stop it becoming a daily habit.

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Melange
Melange

Melange

A longstanding fave, Peckham’s Melange (run by chocolatier Isabelle Alaya) is currently only open at weekends. As well as supplying sweet-toothed local residents with their regular fix of French groceries, artisan ice creams and intriguingly flavoured chocolate slabs, it also sells some of London’s best hot chocolate: the outrageously delicious salted caramel number is their biggest hit, but for a more exotic fix, try the white chocolate version tweaked with matcha tea. Sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free variations are also readily available. 

Dark Sugars Cocoa House

You’ll can smell Dark Sugars before you see it. The scent of Ghanaian cocoa beans wafts up Brick Lane, making it nigh impossible not to pop your head round the door. Mounds of uncut truffle shards are heaped into mango leaf bowls or piled on cherry wood stands. Flavours are kaleidoscopic. And the hot chocolate? Intense, available in numerous flavours and covered in real shaved chocolate. Fucking hell, it's good stuff.

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Farm Girl

Restaurants Cafés Portobello Road

This cute café from Aussie-born ‘farm girl’ Rose Mann is a little ripper – and it's doing both takeaway and click and collect at the moment. Don't expect an ordinary choccy at this joint. The standard hot chocolate here involves cacao and date syrup, while the Happy Hot Choc also includes peppermint, matcha, hazelnut milk and CBD. There are branches in Chelsea and Soho

Intermission

With a passion for sustainability, Intermission in West Hampstead is a trendy coffee shop that was bravely opened last year. It's already become a neighbourhood staple though, beloved for its tasty cakes, high quality brews and quirky style. Expect hot chocs from here to come packaged in cute illustrated (and recyclable) cups. 

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Paul A Young072.jpg
Paul A Young072.jpg

Paul A Young Fine Chocolates

Known for his exquisite sense of taste, former pastry chef Paul A Young is a chocolate magician who shuffles ingredients like a croupier with a deck of cards. Black pudding truffle with ginger biscuit and beer? No problem. Hot chocolate? Of course. A bubbling pot of purple-brown liquid hums in the window, and its Aztec-style brew is made without milk, using Valrhona 100 percent cocoa powder, 70 percent chocolate, light muscovado sugar and a pinch of Cornish sea salt. You can also have it luxed-up with a spoonful of thick double cream and some chocolate pearls. Young has another shop in Camden Passage.

Kapihan

Restaurants Filipino Battersea

Kapihan is an artisanal Filipino café in Battersea run by two brothers who have swapped the corporate world for the coffee world. Currently open for takeaway at weekends, its menu spans Palawan Honey Lattes made with honey from El Nido island and Golden Milk (a mix of turmeric, cinnamon, raw honey and oat milk). But it's the hot chocolate that's the reeeal highlight. It's made the traditional Filipino way: by dissolving 100% Malagos cocoa in hot water, then whisking with milk and sugar. 

 

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Cafe La Divina

Highbury spot Cafe La Divina might look unassuming from the outside, but head inside and you're able to pick up a vast array of Italian treats to take away. Pizza! Pasta! A calzone filled with Nutella! The hot chocolate here is thick, authentic Italiano stuff – like delicious battery fluid to fuel your body through long lockdown walks. 

Ruby Violet

Restaurants Ice-cream parlours Tufnell Park

Superb ice creams and sorbets are RV’s stock in trade, but this charming parlour also takes its hot drinks seriously. In fact you can now order jars of its hot chocolate callets from Deliveroo to make at home. Intense shots of delectable hot chocolate are made from catering favourite Callebaut (the menu outlines its ethical trade credentials) and served on dinky vintage trays. The longer version (with hot, foamy steamed milk on the side) also has oomph.

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Konditor

Restaurants Pâtisseries Waterloo

Gerhard Jenne made quite a stir when he opened this offbeat bakery and café on a South Bank side street back in 1993, but Konditor has flourished and now boasts several branches around the capital. Don’t be fooled by the plastic bottles used to store its drinking chocolate – it’s made fresh every day to a recipe that would make the Sugar Plum Fairy swoon. Complex, not too thick yet discernibly luxurious, the concoction contains double cream, full-fat milk, vanilla pods and two types of Callebaut chocolate.

Apres Food Co

Restaurants Cafés Clerkenwell

We’re sold on this gorgeous-looking Clerkenwell joint, with its clever gluten-free cooking. Its hot chocolate is a good ‘un too: made with single-origin Peruvian cocoa and blossom and available to takeaway. If you’re peckish, also order one of the excellent victoria sponges made with a secret gluten-free flour blend. 

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Café Oscars

Restaurants British Ladywell

Looking for a particularly silky choc choc? Head to Lewisham, where you'll find Oscar's, a neighbourhood joint that's super near Ladywell Fields. There, you can get a piping hot and delicious hot chocolate that'll give you the sustenance you need for an afternoon power walking around the park.

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