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Hot chocolate
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While I have an enormous tolerance for cheap chocolate, I have little stomach for bad hot chocolate. There is nothing better than a good cup of hot chocolate and there is little worse than a bad one. 
As a child, hot chocolate came in a sachet. Synonymous with a slightly scorched tongue and watery consistency, it was often served with a greyish skin forming on top, dotted with clumps of powdered mix. Tending towards the sickly sweet, it was good for a sugar hit and very much a child's drink.

When I first moved to Edinburgh, I lived just down from the now no-more Chocolate Soup. With countless varieties of hot chocolate, topped with everything from cream, Maltesers and Crunchies, it wasn't quite luxury - but it was a step in the right direction. There I first drank hot chocolate flavoured with cinnamon and nutmeg, looking out the windows onto the Royal Mile. But luxury hot chocolate is not just about adding cream and marshmallows. 

When Coco of Bruntsfield opened, hot chocolate grew up. They offered cocoa made from real chocolate, melted in warm milk, flavoured with peppercorns, or spices and chilli. I was - and remain - a devoted fan of the Aztec hot chocolate, which can be bought by the jar and made at home.

Now, other city locations for hot chocolate aficionados include The Chocolate Tree, and Contini Ristorante (formerly Centrotre) where the chocolate is so thick it's best consumed with a spoon.  I'm still in search of the Mexican hot chocolate, made by melting discs of chocolate into boiling water. This requires a special chocolate which is unavailable even in the Aladdin's cave that is Lupe Pintos. However, in search of something with a Spanish flavour I recently tried the chocolate and churros at Serrano Manchego. Mugs of thick and creamy chocolate are served with oval twists of fried dough for dunking. It's a testament to the quality of the hot chocolate that my children ignored the donuts in favour of drinking the chocolate straight up.

Hot chocolate should be taken seriously for the indulgence it can be. On a wander through Brussels one cold February day, I was offered hot chocolate by the chocolatiers not as a luxury but a necessity. They give their chocolate respect, whether solid or liquid in form. In the right hands, hot chocolate is definitely a grown up drink. (R, Edwards) 

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