For most of my childhood, I had assumed that all hot chocolate came only in powdered form. You scoop some into your mug, add some hot water, and give it a stir. If I was feeling extra fancy, I might have added in a splash of milk or maybe some mini marshmallows. But just as instant noodles can’t hold a candle to a “real” bowl of ramen, that powdered stuff doesn’t come close to a “real” hot chocolate.

After highlighting some Lunar New Year celebrations in last week’s vlog, this week we turn to the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival. Now in its seventh year, the festival features dozens of locations around town as they strive to create the best or most unique cup of hot chocolate.

We visited three locations on our decadent journey. Our first stop was at Chez Christophe Chocolaterie in North Burnaby. The “Tropical Storm” is a dark hot chocolate with a spiced pineapple gel, though it was mostly dominated by the coconut flavor of the marshmallow meringue treat floating on top. I preferred the French toast-inspired “Breakfast in Burnaby,” which is a hot white chocolate with a maple drizzle. It tastes like sweetened milk, which it basically is.

Next, we went to 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters and Lucky’s Doughnuts on Main Street. There, we tried “2001: A Spice Odyssey.” This Aztec-spiced hot chocolate wasn’t nearly as “spiced” as I had expected. I thought it was going to bring on more of the chili or cayenne heat of other Mexican spiced hot chocolates. The accompanying churro was too light for my tastes too. 49th Parallel’s classic dark hot chocolate really wasn’t all that different — perhaps milkier in consistency — but we naturally loved the apple maple bacon fritter that came with it.

And finally, we ended up at French Made Baking in Mount Pleasant for “Hansel & Gretel’s Temptation.” Perhaps the most unique offering, this gingerbread orange blond hot chocolate isn’t a milk, dark, or white hot chocolate. It’s blonde. The orange flavor was very pronounced, but it developed an unpleasant film on top.

Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival

Just as you can broaden your horizons by attending a tea festival, you can discover there’s much more to hot chocolate than the powdered stuff they sell at the supermarket. The Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival runs until Valentine’s Day, so you’ve still got time to indulge in a decadent treat. Or five.