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The Perfect Cup of Cocoa

There are few things worth going out of your way for in Boston during January. L.A. Burdick’s Chocolate Caf‚ is one of exceptions.

Tucked away on the outskirts of Harvard Square, this chocolatier is one of Cambridge’s better kept secrets. With all due respect to the better-known Cambridge dessert destination founded by HBS grads, Burdick’s caf‚ is second to none.

Stepping into Burdick’s French country interior, you will expect Juliette Binoche of Chocolat fame to emerge from behind the register. Rich aromas of cocoa and spice pervade the cozy caf‚, where padded benches surround nine closely arranged tables. Display cases overflow with truffles, pastries, and sculpted chocolate mice.

And then, there’s the hot cocoa.

David Rosengarten of the Splendid Table claims that Burdick’s hot chocolate “will likely improve your winter by geometric proportions!”

The secret? Burdick’s hot cocoa is made from chocolate and chocolate alone – hand shaved and warmed in milk according to a centuries-old European tradition. Served in an oversized mug, chocolate dregs will cling to your spoon long after you’ve stirred in the cocoa-sprinkled dollop of milk foam.

Those more accustomed to the Carnation Instant or Nestle Quick varieties may find Burdick’s hot cocoa lacking sweetness, largely attributable to its freedome from extracts, concentrates or flavorings. Though not for the faint-of-stomach, Burdick’s dark hot chocolate offers a savory experience to sophisticated palates. Chocolate connoisseurs will delight in the rich flavor and will find that one cup nearly provides a meal in itself (as perhaps it should, you might argue, at four dollars a mug).

If you do find room for more than just hot chocolate, try the Harvard Square, a dense, brownie-like chocolate cake layered with walnuts and ganache, or one of the many handmade bon bons, Feeling even more decadent? Burdick’s chocolate mousse cake helped this Cambridge chocolatier capture “Bon Appetit”‘s Food Artisan of the Year award. If that doesn’t help beat the winter blues, perhaps you’d better look into a transfer to Stanford.

March 28, 2005
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