“Hot chocolate”. Those words conjure up memories of childhood, coming in from playing in the snow to a mug of steamy weak chocolate with mini-marshmallows bobbing on the surface. But we’re all grown up now, and this is Zurich. We deserve so much more on those grey winter days. Hot chocolate is still the answer, but in a country renowned for its fine chocolate we now have many choices for a quality hot chocolate experience.
I set out to find the “Best” hot chocolate in Zurich- a mission I felt qualified for as I have sampled hot chocolate in some of the best US cities and in twenty countries in Europe. It’s my thing. But choosing the best hot chocolate is like choosing a “best” friend, or your favorite child. The honor can change due to circumstances and expectations. So I have compiled a list of fine places to enjoy a cup of that magical beverage and I give you my reasons why each is the “Best”.
At each location I sampled their “house” hot chocolate so I could make a reasonable comparison. I ordered mine “ohne Rahm”, without whipped cream, as good hot chocolate doesn’t need added cream, and neither do I. I skipped establishments that sell hot Caotina or Ovalmaltine and focused on places with “hausgemacht heisse Schokolade”.
Sprüngli is the BEST known, a hometown favorite with many convenient locations. They serve one choice, but it’s a winner with rich intense flavor. The Dolder Grand thinks highly enough of Sprüngli that it is their hot chocolate as well. If you have visitors in it’s almost your duty to take them to one of their locations as a “must do” in Zurich. Locations for excellent people watching are on Bahnhofstrasse 21 and Lowenstrasse 49.
Confiserie Honold, Rennweg 53, is the BEST for a tasty drinking chocolate in a tea room serving excellent pastries. They offer a sweet, less rich concoction by either cup or pot in a bustling but pleasant upstairs tea room above the bakery. A little meringue was included on the spoon. The price per cup was one of the most reasonable.
CakeFriends, Torgasse 3, is the BEST place for a group of friends to meet for chocolate as there is ample seating, large cups of delicious Maracaibo GrandCru 65% hot chocolate presented with chocolate shavings on top, and the opportunity for, as the name says: cake. ‘nuf said.
Teecafé Schwarzenbach, Münstergasse 17, is the BEST for selection & flavor. They offer 12 choices from white chocolate to a deep dark 74% cocoa and some flavored chocolates such as hazelnut, orange, pepper, and salted butter caramel, as well as their “house” hot chocolate of 65% Venezuelan Maracaibo completely prepared for you. However, they serve their other choices to prepare yourself at the table. You will be served chocolate pastilles in a ceramic cup with a small pot of steamed milk to mix in yourself. Some of these choices are the BEST for intensely flavored, but this method leaves miniscule floating bits that won’t totally incorporate into the steamed milk. The seating here is very limited.
Café Weggen, Weggengasse 4, is the BEST for an inexpensive relaxing cup of hot chocolate with friends. This was the best price with a lovely presentation of a heart sprinkled in cocoa on the top, but I felt it had a more pronounced cocoa finish of all that I tried. The long leather banquette and bright but warm interior are very welcoming, especially on the typical grey winter day here. You have the choice here of hot chocolate, Melange and chocolate with cinnamon, but from the menu I suspect they are a more desired destination for tea.
Felix Café am Bellevue, Bellevueplatz 5, is the BEST for opulence. The interior is decorated in the manor of all purveyors of Teuscher Chocolates, with lots of roses and gold. Café Felix has two choices of hot chocolate: Die Berümte and Die Intensive- The Famous, and the intense with more cocoa, served by uniformed wait staff at lovely marble tables. This prime location, across from the Bellevue tram stop, with ample seating and later hours makes this an easy choice for meeting with friends.
Café Schober, Napfgasse 4, is the BEST all around. This visual and gustatory treat welcomes you with its Terrace, then takes you past their wonderful display of confections to several floors of dining, each with its own character. There are the darker quiet areas of “Salon Rouge” for intimate meetings; a small outdoor patio for alfresco dining; a wonderful upstairs mural room “Café Colonial” for real European flavor…Their hot chocolate can be described as dreamy. Its rich, deeply intense chocolate flavor makes this a destination for hot chocolate, but their lovely lunch/brunch menu makes this a place you’ll want to return to again and again.
Contributed by Zuri Girl: Lisa Hill. Lisa is a self described connoisseur of hot chocolate. Lisa has been living in the Zurich area for almost three years. Her favorite hot chocolate worldwide is at The Demel in Vienna, Austria.
Bonus Recipe: Lisa Hill’s Blackberry Hot Chocolate
Recipe for 1 Serving, a gajillion calories. (Consult your physician before proceeding. Recipe can be increased for more servings, but why share?)
- 3 TBS Vollrahm (heavy whole cream)
- 1 TBS 70% cocoa Belgian dark chocolate chips (available through Peace Foods, Baar) or other similar bittersweet chocolate
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (optional. Necessary if you’ve never met chocolate too dark for your taste)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (light brown sugar if you’ve got it from home)
- 6 segments of a Marc Antoine Edelbitter Brombeere chocolate bar, available at Merkur on Bahnhofstrasse
Heat these ingredients together in a small saucepan over medium heat until the chocolates are completely melted and very smooth, stirring constantly. Do not boil or scorch it!
Once the above ingredients are combined, breathe deeply through your nose as nothing else smells this good.
Then slowly add 1 ½ cups of Drink (2.5% fat milk). Stir in the first few tablespoons to fully incorporate it, then stir in the rest. Heat until mixture is hot but not boiling. Serve immediately. Enjoy immensely.