Today, in front of the market, was a hot chocolate tasting -- $4 for 4 different half-cups of hot chocolate. On this cold day, it drew a steady crowd. The hot chocolates on offer were of mixed quality:
I thought his malted hot chocolate was the day's winner (and everyone I was with thought so, too). Although it was based on milk chocoate, the malt gave it sharpness without sacrificing creaminess. I believe they made this using their malted chocolate sauce (sold by the jar) melted into milk or cream.
They served their regular daily hot chocolate. It tastes like it's made with heavy cream, making it by far the richest of the four. I think the fattiness overwhelms and dilutes the chocolate flavor. It turns to a pudding consistency when it cools. It's good for the first sip, but we all thought it kind of gross from the second sip on.
Their Mexican hot chocolate was thin and weak. Though the cinnamon helped it stand out from the others, the chocolate flavor was too light and the consistency was too watery.
The loser. They burned the hot chocolate. We could taste that right away, and then their rep walked around to everyone to apologize and give out compensatory chocolate squares. He explained that, unaccustomed to making such large batches, they stirred it insufficiently, allowing some chocolate solids to separate and burn at the bottom of the pot. The apology was nice, but it sure didn't make me rush over and buy from their store.
In all, though Recchiuti was my favorite, none was as good as Tartine or Cafe Madeleine. I also, after reading the posts on Torrefazione Italia, tried theirs earlier this week, which in its favor was not oversweet but was still too thin for my taste.
Tartine remains by Bay Area favorite, and is up there with my two out-of-town favorites, LA Burdick (Cambridge, MA) and City Bakery (New York).