Must-Have Treats: Sea Salt Caramel Hot Cocoa and Drinking Chocolate at Ghirardelli

One of the long-time favorites of many Disney fans for dessert at Downtown Disney is the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shoppe and Soda Fountain in Orlando. Luckily — a new location just opened in Disney California Adventure in Disneyland Resort as well!

This spot serves some truly incredible sundaes and ice cream treats, but sometimes the dessert drinks get overlooked by guests (myself included) in favor of the more substantial menu items.

Over the past week I’ve sampled two Ghiaradelli dessert drinks that are Out. Of. This. World!! They are definitely now on my must-have (and go back and get again!) list…

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain Downtown Disney, Orlando

Sea Salt Caramel Hot Cocoa

On a recent visit to the Downtown Disney Ghirardelli location, I decided to forego the ice cream and instead order the Sea Salt Caramel Hot Cocoa that I’d been hearing so much about…

Ghirardelli Sea Salt Caramel Hot Cocoa

You can see this dreamy indulgence on the menu under chocolate drinks here:

Menu -- Click and Enlarge for larger version

Menu -- Click and Enlarge for larger version

Basically, the drink is a creamy, silky hot cocoa topped with real whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel, and a sprinkle of chunky sea salt.

Sea Salt Caramel Hot Cocoa Close Up

I wondered if the sea salt and caramel was incorporated throughout the drink, and I found out quickly that it wasn’t. The caramel and salt are just on top, so the best thing to do is swirl the whipped cream, caramel, and salt throughout the drink to get the most even distribution.

The cocoa itself is very reminiscent of homemade hot chocolate — the kind you make in the battered pan on your stove with real cocoa and real sugar. It brought me right back to when I was a kid. :-)

Creamy Cocoa Peeking Through the Whipped Cream

I’d highly recommend this treat, especially on a chilly or rainy night in Downtown Disney!

Ghirardelli Drinking Chocolate

Next up, I wanted to share my favorite find from this year’s Epcot Food and Wine Festival: Ghiarardelli Drinking Chocolate!

Drinking Chocolate Cannister

You can find this at Ghirardelli Soda Shoppe locations, but this year it’s also at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Exhibit at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival Center.

Chocolate Bar at Food and Wine Festival Center

One question I’ve been getting a lot is “what’s drinking chocolate, and how is it different from hot cocoa?” Well, it’s described here on the menu as “a liquid candy bar.” And I have to agree.

Ghirardelli Chocolate Exhibit Menu at Epcot Food and Wine Festival

It’s much thicker than hot cocoa, and does taste and feel more like a melted candy bar in a cup. The chocolate is extremely rich (which is why it’s served in relatively small portions) and almost slightly bitter. It compares best to a Spanish or Mexican hot chocolate — very thick and semi-sweet using very dark chocolate.

The machine used to make and pour the drinking chocolate is constantly stirring, very much like you would if you were actually melting chocolate for candy dipping.

Drinking Chocolate Machine

I finally got my cup and I was 100% sold. This stuff is ah-maz-ing! Like I said, it’s intense, so if you’re not a chocolate fan or if you don’t like strong flavors, it may be best to sample a small amount before getting a whole cup.

Ghirardelli Drinking Chocolate

But for me? Perfect. This is one of the only items at the festival that I’ve been dreaming about getting again! Go figure (and go GET some)! Of course, this is also available at Ghirardelli locations in Downtown Disney Orlando and Disney California Adventure…


Sometimes ya gotta have ice cream, but when you’re ready for something a bit different, I can highly recommend the Sea Salt Caramel Hot Cocoa or the Drinking Chocolate at Ghirardelli.

Both are taking dessert in a new direction, and both offer some truly decadent and rich flavors. In fact, I had a very difficult time finishing that sea salt caramel hot cocoa due to its sweetness! (FYI — no problem finishing that drinking chocolate. ;-D)

Now, if you’re headed to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival this year, don’t forget to check out our Epcot Food and Wine Festival Menus for more pictures of all the new and favorite dishes at this year’s booths!

Also, check out our DFB Mini-Guide to the 2012 Epcot Food and Wine Festival e-Book for a full schedule of events, touring strategies, tips and tricks, and a full section on the World Showcase booths this year! Use code countdown for $3 off today!

Have you tried any of the liquid desserts at Ghirardelli? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


  1. Lynn Brake says

    Thanks for letting me know about the hot chocolate. We will be there Monday and Ghiradelli’s is always our first stop!!!!!

  2. Alan says

    As someone who makes hot chocolate ( cocoa ) from scratch all the time in cool weather, I find the Ghiradelli offering intriguing. As a non sweets person I usually by-pass that shop, even while my wife never misses it, so I never noticed that item. It’s just one more item for my “must do” list, which is now so lengthy I need a bigger tablet to keep track of it, on my next visit.

  3. says

    I love ANYTHING salted caramel … so much so that I’ve been making it myself at home by buying chocolate ice cream and drizzling caramel then salt (that I bought in World Showcase’s France) on top! Mmmmm!

    I wanted to try the drinking chocolate but didn’t get a chance… but now that I know they have it at Ghiradelli year round I’ll be stopping there to try it next time! I’m not even normally a chocolate type person but I know I’d love a small cup of heavy chocolate!

    (btw, thanks for mentioning the chocolate mousse with salted caramel and chili on so many podcasts.. I tried it last Sunday and yum! It was good!)

  4. says

    Alan, I was telling my friend that you basically need at least 2-3 days just to eat what you want at Epcot…. and that’s on a normal day.. not Food and Wine! With Food and Wine going on I could go to Epcot for a week straight just to try everything that’s on my list! ;)

  5. Sara says

    That sea salt caramel looks so yummy!!
    I love drinking chocolate. Could really go for some now!

  6. Mark D. says

    The Sea Salt Caramel Hot Cocoa is muy increíble. My wife wanted a sundae and I got one a couple of years ago. She ended up drinking half of my drink instead of eating her sundae, it was so good.

  7. Erica says

    Is the chocolate that is balanced on the caramel hot cocoa mug just chocolate or the caramel-filled one? You could pop that in there too, stir and have more of a caramel flavor.

  8. Lisa says

    In Barcelona, they dip churros in drinking chocolate.. Guess that’s something to try at Food and Wine just before I slip into a chocolate coma!

  9. John Grigas says

    So, it looks like you can also buy the drinking chocolate in a cannister to make at home, yes? I have always been a sucker for drinking chocolate, and miss the Chocofino from Starbucks.

  10. Matt says

    I’m heading for the World in two weeks. Our first night we are going to Downtown Disney and Thanks for telling me what I have to get that night.

  11. Alan says

    Marcellina – you may not get back to this post – but if you do try putting some (a little at first) cracked black pepper on the chocolate ice cream before the salted caramel. It sounds crazy but now I can’t eat that flavor without it.

  12. Carol says

    I dream of churros and thick drinking chocolate from the street carts in Seville. I haven’t had that in over 20 years. Do they sell churros somewhere in DTD, so I can have this awesome combo again?

  13. says

    Yes, the drinking chocolate at the festival was amazing, and I’m not even a big chocolate fan (Ghirardelli is one of the exceptions ;)) First when you see it’s such a small amount you’re a little disappointed, but then you drink it, and know there’s no way you could have much more at one time. It’s really rich, but really good!

  14. Lisa says

    I wonder if the drinking chocolate has dairy in it. If not, I’m sold! Also, you have to get a churro to dip in it, like they do in Spain (I saw that on TV).

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