The sweetest time of year in Vancouver is almost upon us: The 8th annual Hot Chocolate Festival takes place over the four weeks leading up to--and including--Valentine's Day.
All of the participating "Chocstars" have been revealed, along with all 75 of their combined creations. While many don't stray too far from the traditional route of smooth, sweet, creamy chocolate drinks, others are known to raise the bar and get wild and downright weird.
Mink Chocolates, who have definitely raised a few eyebrows with their creations every January, are still leading the pack of crazy and creative for the 2018 Hot Chocolate Festival. They're going to be brewing up one sipping chocolate made with donkey's milk, and another that basically sends up Vancouver's love of Avocado Toast (yes, in hot cocoa form).
Other ingredients you'll find on this list of 19 of the wildest, weirdest flavours in the Hot Chocolate Festival this year include beets, tomato, raspberry, vinegar, turmeric, caramelized sunflower, liquid gold, wine, mushrooms (with aphrodisiac properties!), charcoal, popcorn, carrot cake, rosemary, and pretzels.
If you have an adventurous palate, we've culled the craziest hot chocolates from the bunch to help you narrow down your choices.
HOT ASS HOT CHOCOLATE
Parisien dark sipping chocolate made with donkey’s milk. Served with animal crackers. Available: January 20 – February 14 (or while supplies last)
TRIXIE IS A HIPSTER
Ganache hot chocolate made with a fresh avocado. Served with Melba toast. Available: January 20 – February 14
Pineapple and ginger hot chocolate with apple cider vinegar. Served with a Bailey’s Irish Cream Praline. Available: January 20 – 26
A NONCONFORMIST PLEA FOR AN IMAGINARY SUMMER
Tomato and raspberry white hot chocolate with rose. Served with a dark chocolate-dipped, sun-dried fig. Available: January 27 – February 2
GEM & THE RED BEAN STALK
A red bean hot chocolate. Different and delicious! Served with a red bean brittle stick. Available: February 6 – 12 (No festival participation Feb 13 – 14)
Chestnut and caramelized sunflower hot chocolate featuring Cacao Barry Alunga topped with Liquid Gold. Served with a Chocolate Sunflower Truffle. Available: January 20 – February 14
MY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION
Tumeric white hot chocolate made with Valrhona’s Ivoire white chocolate and almond milk. Spicy yet smooth. Paired with an all new “Temperbit” – an almond butter, oat energy bite. Available: January 20 – February 14
GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM!
Sweet and condensed milk blended with “Los Beans” coffee extract and 74% Belgian dark chocolate, finished with a lemongrass-lime mousse. Serve with a cinnamon butter cookie. Available: January 27 – February 9
A blend of Erin Ireland’s animal product-free, #PBY (plant-based yummy) banana bread and a GLOW Chocolate blend featuring South American mesquite. Served with, of course, a slice of that amazing banana bread. Available: January 20 – 31
A Canadian combo of BC white wines (Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc), Canada Spring Water and heirloom organic GLOW chocolate with hints of cherry. Served with a delicious GLOW chocolate. Available: February 1- 14
IN THE MOOD
Heirloom Ecuadorian cacao mixed with potent aphrodisiac maca root and cordyceps mushroom – Ceylon cinnamon, organic chili plus romance! Served with a delicious GLOW chocolate. Available: February 1 – 14
Charcoal-blackened 70% single-origin Madagascar drinking chocolate sprinkled with smoked salt. Accompanied by a Madagascar chocolate-enrobed, house-made marshmallow. Available: January 20 – February 2
IF YOU CAN’T BEET ‘EM, JOIN ‘EM
A blend of Cacao Barry’s Inaya 65% dark chocolate and beet juice. Earthy and delicious! Served with chocolate-coated beet chips. Available: January 20 – February 14
OFF THE BEET’N PATH
Made with 34% Zephyr white chocolate and black sesame, then topped with a fresh beet sauce. Served with a financier. Available: January 20 – February 14
AT THE MOVIES
This one pops out – 42% Ecuadorian, single-origin milk chocolate with popcorn-infused whipped cream, corn nut sprinkles and caramel sauce. Paired with chocolate-covered corn nuts. Available: January 20 – February 14
THAT SALTY ROSEMARY
A salted rosemary hot chocolate. Served with a salted rosemary shortbread. Available: February 1 – 14
HOT CHOCOLATE CHAGA
A house-made, BC wild chaga mushroom-based hot chocolate. Served with a house mix of “superfoods”. Available: January 20 – February 14
KNOTEN TO IT
Pretzel-infused, salty, white hot chocolate. Served with a sugared pretzel cookie. Available: February 3 – 9
Carrot cake hot chocolate with Valrhona Dubey 32% blonde chocolate, warm spice and carrot crema. Accompanied by a cream cheese truffle. Available: January 20 – February 14