On the Seasonality of Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate is not a seasonal product. Some people seem to have a deluded notion that the warm treat is resigned to only a portion of the calendar year. Certainly, the media seems to highlight hot cocoa’s existence around the holidays, but this does not suggest that these are the only times to enjoy it. Indeed, hot chocolate can be drunk in celebration as a year-round treat, regardless of weather or environment.
The primary opposition to hot chocolate consumption is nearly always weather. After all, how can one drink something warm on a hot summer’s day? But then, why do so many people drink hot tea during the summer? Many cultures have no issues with this hot drink, especially in hot or tropical climates. So why then does hot chocolate not get the same treatment? Even Mayans and Aztecs enjoyed warm, bitter beverages spiked with chili peppers when first experiencing the delights of chocolate. Like tea, hot chocolate can even lower one’s body temperature in hot climates. Indeed, a comparative study (A R Bain et al. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2012 Oct.) concludes that, under certain conditions, hot fluid ingestion can lower internal body temperature.
Like the tea comparison, there is another obvious contrasting analogy: ice cream. Many people identify ice cream as a universally enjoyable treat, regardless of weather. Even on a cold winter’s day, ice creams, sorbets, gelatos, etc. are all undeniably delicious, satiating, and satisfying. Even fine dining restaurants include frozen treats as tasting menu components year-round.
“Apples and oranges,” I already hear you say, dear reader. But alas, what is the difference between hot chocolate and ice cream?—nothing. A good contemporary hot cocoa is a dissolution of chocolate, fat, and dairy. Let’s take chocolate ice cream as an obvious contrast; a frozen dissolution of chocolate, fat, and dairy. They are the same, simply a juxtaposition of each other’s temperature. Both sides of the temperature extremes are of culinary desirability. I’m this way, hot chocolate does not differ significantly from ice cream, an excepted year-round desert despite its extreme temperatures.
Undeniably, hot chocolate is a beautiful, elegant beverage that pairs with dessert courses excellently. It’s natural bitterness, and chilli-like heat in some instances, offers an interesting contrast between a cold, sweet dessert. This is the case regardless of environmental circumstances. It is unquestionable, however, that a warm mug of cocoa with feet of fluffy snow outside and a cozy sweater has movie-like charm and comfort unparalleled by even a cone of ice cream on a scorching summer’s day.