"Drinking Chocolates" are made from real chocolate as opposed to "Hot Cocoa" which is made from cocoa powder (the powdery remains of chocolate liquor after cocoa butter is removed). When you purchase a package of drinking chocolate it will often be in the form of chocolate shavings or chunks.
Drinking chocolates are not instant like hot cocoa. You must add hot milk, cream, or water to the chocolate in order for it to melt and be whisked together. Because of the higher cocoa butter content, drinking chocolates will also be richer and often thicker than hot cocoa.
Here is a list of my favorites.
Simply the best! Larry Burdick is one of the best chocolate makers in America. His drinking chocolate is just as exceptional as his candies. Three varieties are available: Dark, White, and Milk. The Dark Hot Chocolate is my favorite. It has a very luscious and complex flavor typical of the finest chocolates. Fruity and acidic with an intense chocolate flavor, this drinking chocolate is simply wonderful; a real treat for chocolate lovers.
Vosges is another wonderful chocolate maker that has created some delicious drinking chocolates. Vosges likes to add exotic flavors to their chocolates and this is true of the drinking chocolates, too. Varieties include La Parisienne Couture Cocoa, Aztec Elixir Couture Cocoa, and Bianca Couture Cocoa. La Parisienne is my favorite with bits of real vanilla bean in the mix!
The Aztec Elixir contains chilies, Mexican vanilla beans, and cinnamon. Bianca contains lemon myrtle, lavender, vanilla, and white chocolate.
Also available from Zingermans and Nieman Marcus.
Maribel Lieberman, a native of Honduras, uses single origin Columbian cocoa (not powder) in all of her drinking chocolates: Original (or Aztec) (63% cacao), Dark (72% cacao), Cafe Negro (flavored with coffee), and Spice (flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and chipotle).
The Original version is the best for a great classic drinking chocolate. Rich chocolateness with complex flavors. Read the label carefully as all the varieties are labeled Aztec Hot Chocolate.
Lake Champlain Chocolates is one of my favorite chocolatiers. Wonderful chocolates using the finest ingredients without all the snobbery. Lake Champlain has 6 different hot chocolates with their Old World Hot Chocolate being my favorite. At 54% cacao, this is still pretty mild for a dark chocolate. Rich and smooth, even drinkers who prefer milk chocolate will love this version.
Through the magic of the internet, this French Drinking Chocolate is available to American consumers. A really wonderful and complex drinking chocolate with some smokiness caused by the roasting of the cocoa beans. Also contains raw cane sugar and vanilla.
Available from Cybercucina.com.
Dagoba makes the finest organic chocolate you can buy. Their hot chocolate is also Fair Trade Certified meaning the cacoa farmers get a fair price for their efforts. Dagoba Authentic Hot Chocolate has a pleasant chocolatey taste. Maybe a little on the sweet side, cane juice is listed as an ingredient.
Mr. Chocolate, Jacques Torres, has created two wonderful drinking chocolates. The Classic Hot Chocolate is a more traditional version with a nice chocolate flavor. The Wicked Hot Chocolate contains additional ingredients of allspice, cinnamon, ground, sweet ancho chili peppers, and smoked, ground chipotle chili peppers.
Mostly known for its coffee, Allegro has a wonderful assortment of drinking chocolates made from cocoa beans from around the world. Styles include Columbian, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Mayan, Peruvian. Several varieties are organic. Wonderful complex and rich, these drinking chocolates are a treat to experience. Available from local markets such as Whole Foods.
Schokinag (pronounced show-ca-nog) is a German chocolate company with 9 varieties of European Drinking Chocolates.