The Hot Chocolate ($4) at Peels has a pudding-like consistency, almost rich enough to rival City Bakery. Silky and on the sweet end of NYC's hot chocolate spectrum, it's dark chocolate all the way, ladled just over half-full into a paper cup. My first impression? It's a skimpy serving! But halfway through the half cup, I needed a breather and water. There's no extra change for the fat vanilla bean marshmallow (housemade, of course) which the counter girl drops into the cup just before handing over your treat. Pluck and eat, or let the marshmallow melt into a puddle over the hot chocolate surface.
And because it's the holiday season, you have every right to allow yourself a second treat. Go with the simple, fudgy Round Brownie ($2), with a paper-thin crackly top for a double dose of chocolate. Or better yet, the St. Louis Sticky Gooey Cake ($3), with three components: a brioche base, a custard, and a crunchy sweet butter top. The elements meld into one another, the chewy and the crunchy, and it's a stick-to-your-teeth affair—almost like a Cinnabon, minus the cinnamon.
325 Bowery, New York NY 10003 (map) 646-602-7015