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We explored three eateries that serve up some of the best hot chocolate in the region. Whether you prefer your hot chocolate rich and luscious or dry and refined, there is a cup out there for you. With the long New England winter ahead, there’s no harm in trying them all.

DeVille Cafe & Market, Beverly

On a recent and chilly afternoon, I stopped in at the newly opened DeVille Cafe & Market in Beverly, a sweeping, curated space that was, until just a few months ago, home to Frank McClelland’s critically acclaimed restaurant FRANK.

I had come on a mission: to sample hot chocolate (other items, like Fly by Jing’s chili sauces, which have a cult following online, caught my eye, as did a refrigerator case full of artisan products: Red Jacket Orchards juices cheeses from Cypress Grove in California, Maestri slow-cured charcuterie). DeVille’s culinary curation is headed by Annika Firestone—her cookbooks were on display as I browsed—a chef known for her work at the Tatte Bakeries across Boston.

At the counter, I ordered a hot chocolate (and a prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich on a croissant, for good measure), which was made to order with my choice of milk—oat, in this case. The result was a light, frothy drink that read more like a mocha than a saccharine dessert for the very young. Consider it a grown-up cocoa: no whipped cream or marshmallows, just the finesse of chocolate, with a little sweetness on the back palate, and a solid late-afternoon pick-me-up on a very cold afternoon. Why drink coffee, I thought, when I could have a cup of this instead?

112 Rantoul St., Beverly, 978-529-2166,

A&J King, Salem

Like any beverage, hot chocolate is diverse in its iterations. The version served at A&J King Artisan Bakers, in Salem, is a richer style—and that certainly isn’t a bad thing, particularly for those who are fond of chocolate. “Just like anything that is inherently simple, if it’s made well, it should stand on its own,” Andy King, the bakery’s owner, says of the iconic beverage.

A&J King’s rich beverage is made, he says, from a ganache, made with a 60:40 ratio or Richardson’s half-and-half and Callebaut semi-sweet chunks. The ganache is then mixed with a steamed milk of the customer’s choosing, and can be customized with the addition of syrups, like hazelnut, cinnamon, and mint.

The measure of a hot chocolate, King says, is really in its ingredients. “A great hot chocolate is made-to-order, with real-deal, simple ingredients,” he says. “You should be able to taste a high-quality milk product, and high-quality chocolate in equal measure, and you should be satisfied with one mug.”

The balance, he says, lies in making a drink that is rich enough to satisfy the craving for chocolate but not so rich that it overpowers. The bakery offers customers full-fat cow’s milk, skim milk, oat milk, and various other types of milks. “You can make a hot chocolate with any type of milk, of course,” he says. “As long as it’s steamable.”

48 Central St., Salem, 978-744-4881,

Market Square Bakehouse, Amesbury

In Amesbury, Kate and Theo Dewez recently took over the Market Square Bakehouse, a 10-year-old stalwart that has offered locals a place to congregate over coffee, sandwiches, and baked goods. Although the new owners may be initiating some changes as time marches on, Kate Dewez stands by the Bakehouse’s hot chocolate. “I think it’s very good the way it is,” she says.

The Bakehouse makes its own powder in-house, sourcing unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder and blending it with sugar. The blend, Dewez says, is then added to fresh steamed milk to-order, along with a splash of vanilla syrup. “It can be served with or without whipped cream,” she says. “We also have another one, which is kind of different, and that’s the Mexican hot chocolate, where you have some cayenne pepper. It’s a little spicy.”

Around the holidays, the Bakehouse also offers a peppermint version, which may remain on the menu throughout the winter. The Bakehouse aims to make its hot chocolate less sweet than some other versions, Dewez says. 

“It’s more muted, and you can actually drink the whole thing without feeling like you’re going to be sick, because it’s not too sweet,” she says. Customers can personalize their orders by including their preferred milk (the Bakehouse offers a variety, including almond milk, oat milk, cow’s milk, and more).

5 Market Sq., Amesbury, 978-792-5237,

Looking for even more hot, chocolatey options? Check out some of our other favorites. And don’t forget to tell us your favorite spot to get your cocoa fix.