BERGEN COUNTY, N.J. -- There's one good thing about winter weather: indulging in a mug of frothy hot chocolate. And if someone adds marshmallows -- all the better!
Tuesday, Jan. 31 is National Hot Chocolate Day giving Bergen residents the perfect excuse to come in from the cold and have a "meltdown" with drinks that warm frosty fingers and toes. A sampling follows; feel free to add your own favorites in our Facebook comments.
- Cafe Angelique, Tenafly: Italian chocolate is melted down from big chunks, then freeze-dried, so there is no bitterness to the taste. A touch of sugar, some steamed milk and voilà! You have perfection in a cup. Cafe Angelique offers an original version, as well as peppermint, S'mores and raspberry. Get Your Chocolate Fix : 1 Piermont Rd., (201) 541-1010.
- Cool Beans, Oradell: This place doesn't just take its coffee seriously -- it was a 2016 DVlicious "Best Coffee In The County" winner -- but it puts as much care into its hot chocolate. Sure, you can have a simple version made with milk chocolate, but why not when you can add one of the shop's many syrups -- think hazelnut, coconut, mint or almond. Another bonus: Cool Beans uses a blend of Hershey's chocolate and Big Train hot chocolate mocha mix for a combo that's super velvety. Whipped cream optional. Get Your Chocolate Fix : 304 Kinderkamack Rd., (201) 634-1400.
- Erie Coffeeshop & Bakery, Rutherford: No powders here! At Erie, the hot chocolate is made using Callebaut chocolate, chocolate syrup and milk steamed in their espresso machine. The cozy shop also offers a Mexican version made with cayenne and cinnamon. Get Your Chocolate Fix: 10 Franklin Pl., (201) 460-0073.
- Kilwins, Ridgewood: The high-quality chocolate makes Kilwins a standout. There are six different varieties here -- the classic, basically their own chocolate plus steamed milk, the Peruvian, a single origin bean that tends to be the most bitter and the Dominican, which is somewhere in between the two, with a fruitier taste. There's also a Mexican version -- dark with added cinnamon. And, there's a Seasalt Caramel choice with the shop's own caramel. Drinking chocolates are also popular -- which use the same amount of chocolate but two ounces of milk as opposed to a full cup -- basically chocolate's answer to espresso. And, lastly, you can buy the chocolate to go so you can make your own version at home -- or add it to coffee, ice cream or pies. Get Your Chocolate Fix: 121 E Ridgewood Ave., (201) 445-4837.
- Raymond's, Ridgewood: Order a hot chocolate -- or one made "white" -- and get your phone ready for the Instagram-worthy marshmallow that accompanies it. These are homemade and huge -- and perfect for fluffing your spirits on a cold, gray day. Get Your Chocolate Fix: 101 E Ridgewood Ave., (201) 445-5125.
- Red Cedar Market, Ho-Ho-Kus: Expect old-fashioned homemade goodness in a cup. Like everything else here, the hot chocolate here is made in-house using fresh ingredients. Get Your Chocolate Fix: 611 North Maple Ave., (201) 444-1522.
- Sogno Coffeehouse & Creperie, Westwood: The list of choices is dizzying at Sogno where you'll find between 12 and 15 different hot chocolate varieties, each one more outrageous (and fun!) than the next. There's bubblegum, topped with real gumballs and Nutella, which -- yep! -- features a dollop of Nutella. Also popular: red velvet, cake batter raspberry and new to the menu: Rocky Road (chocolate, marshmallows and crumbled peanuts, blended steamed together and topped with whipped cream) and Mudpie Oreo. The list is always rotating so there's no chance getting bored. Traditionalists can also choose from white, dark or milk hot chocolate blended with any specialty drink flavors, basically creating their own. Get Your Chocolate Fix: 425 Broadway, (201) 497-3628.
- Sook, Ridgewood: Melted Valrhona chocolate and milk make for a velvety sip of richness. Paired with one of Sook's pastries, you'll want to stay here all day. Get Your Chocolate Fix: 24 S. Broad St., (201) 493-2500.
- Stray Cat Brew, Maywood: Choose from seven different hot or frozen hot chocolate varieties. Among the top sellers hot: chocolate covered strawberry, peanut butter cup, S'more and original. Frozen options include double chocolate chip, cookies and cream and S'mores. Get Your Chocolate Fix: 108 W Pleasant Ave., (201) 682-6306.