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Where to find New Mexico’s best hot chocolate

A mug of hot chocolate flanked by roasted chiles and cinnamon sticks Kakawa Chocolate House in Sante Fe adds roasted chiles to all of its chocolate elixirs. Photo by Gabriella Marks
Cinnamon being sprinkled onto a glass of hot chocolate

Photo by Fascinadora/stock.adobe.com

Rich, dark hot chocolate is the ultimate winter warmer, whether you sip it plain, spiced, or topped with marshmallows and whipped cream. Here are 9 of our favorite cocoa spots throughout the Land of Enchantment, along with some holiday gift ideas. Enjoy!

1. Kakawa Chocolate House, Santa Fe

A serving of a Kakawa chocolate elixir served in a blue ceramic mug

Herbs, spices, and chile intensify Kakawa’s chocolate elixirs. Photo by Kitty Leaken

Kakawa Chocolate House doesn’t make ordinary hot chocolate; it crafts intense chocolate elixirs infused with chile. Kakawa’s Mesoamerican elixirs contain mixtures of spices and herbs reminiscent of those used in pre-Columbian cultures.

The shop’s historic European versions blend spices with citrus and florals, and contemporary elixirs include flavors like hibiscus and coconut, which have become popular in modern societies. The shop’s best-seller is Kakawa’s American Elixir, made with hot unsweetened almond milk, 70% dark chocolate, cane juice, and vanilla. Kakawa has 3 locations in Santa Fe and 1 in Salem, Massachusetts.

Holiday gift idea: Any of the packaged elixirs, a Mexican molinillo (hand-twirled frother), or a cup and saucer just like the ones used in the shop.

2. Sweet Santa Fe

Sipping chocolate arranged with chocolates from Sweet Santa Fe

Sweet Santa Fe's rich sipping chocolate comes in 6 different flavors. Photo by Gabriella Marks

At Sweet Santa Fe, you can choose from 6 chocolate flavors: dark European, traditional Mexican (think spiced), peppermint (refreshing), chipotle chile (bold), New Mexico lavender (floral), or orange zest (elegant). Enjoy the 1.5-ounce size or a whopping 10-ounce cup.

Holiday gift idea: Biscochitos (3 per package). This bakery’s version of New Mexico’s official cookie—light, crumbly, and anise-seasoned—won a first-place 2020 Scovie Award.

3. The Chocolate Maven Bakery & Café, Santa Fe

A mug of Chocolate Maven's Mayan hot chocolate

Try the Mayan hot chocolate at Chocolate Maven for a twist on traditional Mexican hot chocolate. Photo courtesy Chocolate Maven Bakery & Café

In addition to pastries and savory breakfast and lunch fare, Chocolate Maven Bakery & Café serves 4 kinds of hot chocolate.

The semisweet, with chocolate chips melted in dairy or plant milk, makes a creamy, traditional treat. The Mexican hot chocolate blends traditional Mexican chocolate (made with cinnamon) imported from Jalisco with your choice of plant or dairy milk, while the Mayan chile adds chimayó pepper and a spice blend. For a rich, indulgent version, order the Italian hot chocolate—a blend of cocoa powder, chocolate chips, and plant or dairy milk, simmered until thickened.

Holiday gift idea: The Maven Month Subscription, a monthly delivery of selected baked goods, such as fruit pies, cookies, quick breads, and brownies.

4. Rose Chocolatier, Los Alamos

Bakers and candy makers at Rose Chocolatier make all the shop’s pastries and sweets on-site daily, so you get to watch the magic. Marguerite Rose McClay, founder of this cozy downtown shop, has been making chocolate since 2010 and developed the recipe for the shop’s rich, dark hot cocoa topped with whipped cream.

In 2019, McClay donated the shop to Lemonade Living, a nonprofit organization that provides job training to those with developmental disabilities.

Holiday gift idea: A box of small-batch truffles in standard and new-wave flavors.

5. Chocolate Dude, Albuquerque

At Chocolate Dude, you can order hot chocolate made with chocolate bars melted in steamed dairy or plant milk and topped with whipped cream, or try the Mexican hot chocolate, which adds red chile and cinnamon. The white chocolate matcha latte is made with sweetened pure white chocolate. Add piñon snacking toffee or cinnamon sugar-coated caramel apples to your drink order.

Holiday gift idea: Pre-order hot chocolate bombs. Each shell, available in dark, milk, or white chocolate, comes stuffed with a homemade cocoa mix, mini marshmallows, and a flavoring, if desired.

6. Eldora, Albuquerque

A paper cup of hot chocolate

Chocolatier Steve Pricket melts down “The Chocolate Connoisseur” sheets to make his hot chocolate. Photo by Steve Prickett

Eldora owner and chocolatier Steve Prickett handcrafts chocolate bars and truffles. To make his hot chocolate, he pulverizes chocolate sheets into granules, then blends them with hot dairy, hot water, or oat milk for the classic cocoa, which includes vanilla and cinnamon. For the mole version, he includes nearly a dozen Southwestern spices, and he infuses the chai hot chocolate with cardamom.

Our favorite is the luxurious European-style sipping chocolate. For this, Prickett simmers butter or dairy-free MCT oil, milk or oat milk, and the chocolate granules together until the mixture is thickened. It’s served in a small cup, since a little goes a long way.

Holiday gift idea: Any of the shop’s cocoa-rich body products, ranging from dark chocolate soap bars and lavender-chocolate body butter to the chocolate-sugar body scrub and buttery lip balms.

7. Pig + Fig Café, White Rock

At this comfort food café known for sweet and savory vegan dishes, you’ll find hot chocolate offered with a “Breve” option, meaning steamed half-and-half blended with melted chocolate chips. Plant and dairy milk are also options, as are flavored syrups (mint or caramel, anyone?) and whipped cream.

Holiday gift idea: A box of a dozen macarons in a variety of flavors (think raspberry, chocolate, pistachio, vanilla, and salted caramel).

8. Black Diamond Espresso, Taos Ski Valley

Whether you’re a novice or expert on the slopes, you can enjoy an après-ski treat at Black Diamond Espresso, which bills itself as the place to get “the fastest lift in Taos Ski Valley.” Besides coffee, it offers 5 kinds of hot chocolate, ranging from spiced Mexican to a dark-and-white chocolate version.

Holiday gift idea: A day pass for the slopes.

9. Gutiz, Taos

Mexican hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and served in a Gutiz mug

Gutiz's version of Mexican hot chocolate is made with cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and your choice of plant or dairy milk. Photo by Jennifer Peterson

In addition to offering French- and Spanish-inspired menu items as diverse as Parisian crêpes and chicharrón de pollo, Gutiz also serves spiced hot chocolate.

The Mexican hot chocolate combines cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, and your choice of plant or dairy milk. The Gutiz hot chocolate contains cinnamon and a pinch of yellow curry to add an earthy, savory note to the drink. Both versions can be topped with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon sugar and cocoa powder.

Holiday gift idea: A gift certificate to the restaurant, where diners can enjoy specialties such as paella valenciana and baked pollo borachon (drunken chicken) before indulging in some house-made hot chocolate.

Victoria Abbott Riccardi writes travel, food, and lifestyle stories for national and international outlets. She adores chocolate, preferably rich and very dark.

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