Just because it's September doesn't mean fall is here. That doesn't happen until September 23—and even then, fall in Houston is mostly a state of mind as opposed to an actual season with falling temperatures and leaves. This means that hot chocolate is about as welcome in September (and October, and sometimes November) as Uggs and North Face jackets. Sure, you can walk around with a hot chocolate in your Uggs and North Face jacket, but it's a little foolish when it's still 80 degrees outside.
Cacao & Cardamom
5000 Westheimer Rd.
That's where frozen drinking chocolate comes in. An invention of Annie Rupani, owner of Cacao & Cardamom, the beverage blends her popular drinking chocolate—normally served hot—with shards of ice to make the city's most decadent milkshake, featuring gelato in place of ice cream, and plenty of the high-end chocolate her shop is known for.
Rupani added this frozen version of her drinking chocolate to the menu in August, just a month after opening her storefront chocolate shop near the Galleria, when the intense temperatures begged something cool.
"They're made just like a hot chocolate," Rupani says. "The dark chocolate one is a 64 percent chocolate with a little Madagascar chocolate added for flavor. We steam the milk and create a ganache, then add some dark chocolate gelato." The result is the richest and most intensely chocolate-flavored iced beverage you may ever taste here in Houston.
At first, Rupani says, she only offered this dark chocolate version. Then, her cousin suggested a version made with gianduja (a.k.a. Nutella, or hazelnut and chocolate spread). Rupani experimented with this idea—adding milk chocolate and more of that dark chocolate gelato to the blend—and found that she liked it as much as the dark chocolate version. Now, both the sweet, nutty gianduja and the creamy, slightly bitter dark chocolate sit side by side on the menu for $4.75 each.
The frozen drinking chocolates will remain on the menu along with other cool favorites like gelato and sorbet even as the months get cooler, Rupani says. They've just been too popular to consider taking off—though expect those hot drinking chocolates to take over once we finally hit our first cold snap of the year.