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, Italy. 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 Italian food, 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 holiday gift has gotten me surprisingly close to re-creating 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 ($150) 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.
You pour milk into the Velvetiser and then add a packet of gourmet hot chocolate mix (sold separately). Rather than a Swiss Miss–style powder, these packets contain superhigh-quality grated chocolate—and there are no dehydrated minimarshmallows in sight. In addition to “basic” options such as milky (50 percent cacao), classic (70 percent), and dark (85 percent), there are some nifty flavor variations, including hazelnut praline, salted caramel, ginger, and blood orange. (My favorite is chili, and my wife adores mint.)
The real genius here is the removable whisk that whips just the right amount of air into the milk as it heats. Two and a half minutes after starting the Velvetiser, out comes perfectly smooth, slightly frothy, precisely warmed hot chocolate.
The Velvetiser is lined with a nonstick coating, so cleanup takes 10 seconds. (If you’ve ever scrubbed a saucepan with slightly burned hot cocoa, you know this is a big deal.) Each chocolate packet costs about $2 (less if you buy them in bulk), so this is definitely an indulgence. But drinkable chocolate is worth every penny.
Photo Credit: Hotel Chocolat, fcafotodigital | Getty Images
Model: n/a (comes in copper, charcoal, and white)
Materials: Electric metal kettle lined with nonstick coating; includes plastic whisk (to aerate chocolate as it heats) and two ceramic mugs for serving
Ordering Info: https://us.hotelchocolat.com/velvetiser.list
Comments: Think Keurig but for hot chocolate. This electric kettle is built by Dualit, rightly famous for their stylish toasters. Pour in your own milk and add a packet of high-quality grated chocolate, sold separately. The kettle not only heats a single cup of hot chocolate to the perfect temperature but a small detachable whisk lightly froths the milk. The chocolate packets are pricey, at $2 each, but the quality is excellent and flavors range from Mint to Salted Caramel.