Where to find the best hot chocolate in London
I’ve a confession to make. All women are supposed to be addicted to chocolate but I’m not one of them. I can actually be in the same room as a box of chocolates and not dip into them - or not if they’re run-of-the-mill chocolates anyway. It’s not that I don’t like them. I enjoy an occasional square of dark chocolate after dinner but that’s as far as it goes. Weird, I know.
That may be about to change now that I’ve discovered William Curley, one of Britain’s most talented young chocolatiers who has just opened a beautiful shop and caf in Shepherd Market. I met him there last week when I was researching an article and took up his offer to have a cup of hot chocolate. It was quite simply the best I’ve ever tasted - wonderfully rich, foamy and creamy with a snowdrift topping of fine chocolate flakes that melted unctuously into the drink as you stirred.
The secret you won’t be surprised to hear is to start with high quality chocolate of 66-70% cocoa solids and to use one part of chocolate to five parts of full fat milk (i.e. 20%). You scald the milk, whisk half of it into the chocolate until it emulsifies then froth up the rest and top up the cup. Then you grate more chocolate over the top. If you like your hot chocolate sweeter you should add a little honey to the chocolate before you pour in the milk.
Curley also has a dessert bar (London’s first) where a patissier will make up the dessert of your choice from the menu in front of you - like a high grade sushi bar. I also tried (confession time here . . . ) an outrageously rich warm chocolate tart served with fresh raspberries and a refreshing scoop of matcha (Japanese green tea) ice cream.
As if that wasn't enough temptation there's a shop counter filled with the most exquisite pastries and chocolates to take away (the chocolate with fresh mint is to die for).
If you need a restorative break in the middle of your Christmas shopping - or simply some ideas for last minute presents - here’s where to come.
William Curley is at 32-34 Shepherd Market, Mayfair, London W1J 7QN. Tel: 020 7495 0302. He also has a shop in Richmond-upon-Thames and a concession in the John Lewis Food Hall in Oxford Street
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