The Ultimate: Hot Chocolate

* * * * * L.A. Burdick Chocolate Café

With strong, clean, tongue-coating flavor and complex, fruity undertones, the shop’s not-too-saccharine dark and milk chocolate blends steamroll the competition. An amalgam of piping-hot whole milk, shaved house chocolate (Burdick’s custom blend, produced in Switzerland from cocoa beans sourced from the Caribbean and South America), and a touch of cocoa powder and spice, this hearty brew is thick and creamy, just as we like it. But be warned: Even the small serving, which goes for $3, isn’t for the faint of heart. This stuff is rich.

52-D Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-491-4340, burdickchocolate.com.


Swiss Near-Misses [The Runners-Up]:

* * * * 1/2    Finale: A close second, with first-rate Valrhona but a tad too much sugar. One Columbus Ave., Boston, 617-423-3184, and other locations, finaledesserts.com.

* * * *   Sofra: Creamy and bittersweet, with off-putting chocolate chunks. One Belmont St., Cambridge, 617-661-3161, sofrabakery.com.

* * * Aroa: At this South End spot, thin texture undermines the heady cocoa flavor. 1651 Washington St., Boston, 617-425-4988, sites.google.com/site/aroafinechocolate.

* * Flour: Smooth, though its overly milky base channels instant mixes. 1595 Washington St., Boston, 617-267-4300; 12 Farnsworth St., Boston, 617-338-4333; flourbakery.com.