I had travel plans for 2020 and they included a lazy afternoon spent sipping luxurious hot chocolate at Rivoire, a fancy café on the Piazza della Signoria in Florence. Alas, that didn’t happen. I really love chocolate (I enjoy it every day) and Rivoire has been making artisanal chocolates since 1872. When I dream of Italy, it’s not just about ravioli and truffles, but also about hot chocolate with billows of unsweetened whipped cream.
Luckily, 2020 wasn’t an entire bust on the gourmet hot chocolate front. A surprising holiday gift has gotten me surprisingly close to recreating this experience from my home kitchen. I should confess right now: I’m hard to shop for. My loved ones usually stick with sweaters and such. But this year my wife took a gamble and gave me a high-tech hot chocolate machine. The Velvetiser ($130) is my new kitchen obsession. It comes from a British company called Hotel Chocolat and it’s basically an electric kettle that froths and warms decadent hot chocolate, one perfect cup at a time.