Winter is coming and when the weather is chill and the dark nights are drawing closer, there's nothing like a cup of hot chocolate to act as a late autumn pick-me-up. Here are some of Scotland's top spots for a drop of the dark stuff.

Cocoa Black, Peebles

Founded and run by UK World Chocolate Master Ruth Hinks, Cocoa Black is a must for any serious chocolate lovers thank to a range of high-end patisserie goodies (Salted Caramel Dacquoise, anyone?) and share-it-with-the-family cakes in flavours such as Cappuccino Mousse and Orange and Almond. Among Cocoa Black’s liquid delicacies are sumptuous hot chocolates topped with praline, gingerbread, mint chocolate, salted caramel or orange. You can also have plain old hot chocolate with nothing at all sprinkled on it or, at the other end of the scale, why not try the Hot Chocolate indulgence, which features chocolate and marshmallow among other delights?

1-3 Cuddybridge, Peebles, EH45 8HX (Tel: 01721 723764)

Mimi’s Bakehouse, Edinburgh

Fast becoming an Edinburgh institution, Mimi’s opened first in Leith and then in the Old Town. It now also has cafes in Corstorphine and Comely Bank, at Lauriston Castle and in the City Art Centre. The cafes offer breakfast, brunch, lunch, sandwiches and savouries, they the speciality is afternoon teas (butties, scones, cakes, Mango Belini: you know the drill). The hot chocolate offering is simple but good: there’s the classic (with marshmallows and cream if that is your wish) and an ever-changing special. Just ask for the flavour of the day. PS: There’s no afternoon tea at the Comely Bank branch.

63 Shore, Leith, EH6 6RA

277 St John’s Road, EH12 7XD

250 Canongate, EH8 8AA

153 Comely Bank Road, EH4 1BQ

Loop And Scoop, Glasgow

Much loved on the Iberian peninsula and in Central America, churros are lengths or rounds of fried dough, sometimes filled, often served sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. They are absolutely delicious and they are the speciality of Glasgow emporium Loop And Scoop. The loop refers to the shape, the scoop to the action you make as you dip it into something equally mouth-watering. Ice-cream (gelato) is the café’s go-to, but there are also chocolate dips available in flavours such as white, Belgian, dark, Nutella. And if it’s a straight-up, traditional mug of hot chocolate you want, they do that too. Theirs is served with cream and marshmallow.

665 Great Western Road, G12 8RE (Tel: 0141 334 6600)

The Chocolate Lounge, Grandtully

Few take chocolate as seriously as Iain Burnett, whose Highland Chocolatier empire has its HQ on the A827 between Pitlochry and Aberfeldy. In the Chocolate Lounge attached to his workshops you can track down a pretty special hot chocolate – as you would expect from a man whose Hot Velvet Ganache has scooped the Best Hot Chocolate In Europe award. You can order a Classic Hot Chocolate (a Velvet Truffle Ganache), or ones made with white chocolate or salted caramel. There’s a white raspberry version and another which comes infused with your choice of raspberry, orange, strawberry, cinnamon, chilli or peppermint. Happily there is also a vegan version, made with soya or oat milk, and if you just want a single, thick, espresso-sized hit, try his Marbled Thick Hot Chocolate.

Grandtully, Perthshire, PH9 0PL (Tel: 01887 840 775)

Coro The Chocolate Café, Edinburgh

You’ll find this temple to all things chocolatey on Edinburgh’s Frederick Street. The menu runs from fondues and crepes to cakes and waffles, and the hot chocolate range is equally impressive. Your basics are dark, milk or white hot chocolates, to which you can add peanut butter if you choose. But there are also hot chocolate shots – a melted shot of your choice of chocolate topped with either chilli, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, pepper of ginger – and a build-your-own Winter Warmer which comes in flavours of Mint, Butterscotch, Popcorn, Gingerbread, Orange, Cinnamon, Pumpkin Spice and Toffee Nut. Soya, almond and coconut milk are available on request.

13 Frederick St, Edinburgh EH2 2EY (Tel: 225 4477)

The Cocoa Tree Café, Pittenweem

Run by the Pittenweem Chocolate Company, this café on the picturesque East Neuk fishing village’s High Street offers both Luxury and Intense hot chocolate experiences, with the second coming in an espresso or medium-sized cup and also available cold. Flavours include mint, orange, chilli, hazelnut, and rose (yum!). You may also fancy the Espressiente, which is an Intense hot chocolate with a shot of coffee added. And, yes, there’s a dairy-free vegan version made using pea milk from Swedish hipsters Sproud.

9 High Street, Pittenweem, KY10 2LA (Tel: 01333 311495)

The Oban Chocolate Co. Café, Oban

Voted one of the best chocolatiers in Europe in 2015, the company’s takeaway venture overlooks Oban Bay and is cloaked in wonderful smells thanks to the work of the chocolatiers in the adjoining factory. It offers hot chocolate in milk, dark and white, topped with fresh cream and flavoured with cinnamon, caramel or chilli. It also serves coffees (from Helensburgh-based Home Ground Coffee Roasters), tea and home baking. There is a sofa inside and tables outside, but no public toilets.

34 Corran Esplanade, Oban PA34 5PS

Nic’s NYC Deli, Glasgow

The speciality of this café-cum-deli is the thing that gets Homer Simpson out of bed in the mornings: doughnuts. The holes in theirs are guaranteed 100% fat free – hurrah! – though tuck into one of their jumbo hot chocolates and your calorie count will rise a little. The XL Nutella Hot Chocolate is the one to go for, served in a large Nutella jar and topped – actually loaded would be a better description – with cream, chocolate, caramel, assorted sprinkles and what looks from their Instagram page like a couple of chocolate logs. Yum! The diet starts tomorrow, right?

396 Byres Road G12 8AS (Tel: 0141 339 7003)

Drift, North Berwick

Head east out of the up-market East Lothian town and, just shy of Tantallon Castle, you’ll find this spectacular, cliff edge café made consisting of a couple of shipping containers and what looks like a re-purposed horse box. Welcome to Drift, as popular with locals as it is with tourists. You’ll need to book if you want to sit inside, but if the weather’s not too awful, why not sit at the outside seats and catch the clifftop view in all its glory? The brunch menu contains treats like kippers with lemon and caper and parsley butter, there’s a kids’ menu until 3pm (eggy bread!) and for your hot chocolate needs there’s a choice of either milk or dark, plus the option to add marshmallow, cream etc.

Canty Bay, North Berwick, EH39 5PL (Tel: 01620 892817)

Foodstory, Aberdeen

Launched through a Kickstarter campaign and kitted out with donated and hand-made furniture and fittings, this café-cum-venue-cum-community venture is well worth a visit in its own right (they run bi-monthly reggae nights courtesy of the Hometown Promotion Sound System). They are also arts and crafts workshops and a yoga and meditation space, and the vegetarian menu in the café runs from porridge served with caramelised banana and toasted coconut flakes to Kimchi Sourdough Focaccia sandwiches and something called a Mexican Buddha Bowl.

13-15 Thistle Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1XZ (no phone)

Velocity Café, Inverness

Not known for its hot chocolate per se – it’s more famous for a vegetarian menu which is half vegan – but as the city’s best (only?) bicycle-themed café, it’s where you’re likely to wind up after a gruelling day in the saddle. And what better way to warm up than with a hot chocolate? The award-winning café has a zero waste policy, and there’s a workshop and bike shop attached. Coffee comes from Glasgow-based company Papercup and the business is a social enterprise, so you’ll be doing some good by giving them your custom.

1 Crown Avenue, Inverness, IV2 3NF (Tel: 01463 419956)

Söderberg, Edinburgh

The phenomenon that is Söderberg has yet to reach Glasgow, but Edinburgh is lucky enough to have four cafés and two shops, and it’s in the former that you will find the hot chocolate. With such a cornucopia of Scandinavian sweet treats on offer, they keep it pretty simple: cocoa from high-end French company Valrhona, organic milk and (if you want it) a twist of the spice which also flavours their trademark buns: cardamom. Grab a pew outside the Stockbridge café on Deanhaugh Street on a Sunday and you can take in the buzz of the nearby farmer’s market as you warm your cockles.

27 Simpson Loan, Quartermile, EH3 9GG (Tel: 0131 228 5876)

1 Lister Square, Quartermile, EH3 9GL (Tel: 0131 228 1905)

3 Deanhaugh Street, EH4 1LU (Tel: 0131 332 2901)

310 Morningside Road, EH10 4QQ (Tel: 0131 446 0350

The Chocolate Bar, Ellon

Located in the Aberdeenshire town which is also home to the Brewdog brewery, this café has been run since 2015 by chocolatier Kira Rattray, who really did grow up dreaming of owning her own chocolate shop. It offers a dazzling variety of hot chocolate. You can have the house special made with either milk or white chocolate, as well as drinks in flavours hazelnut, chilli, caramel, salted caramel, Honeycomb, vanilla and – wait for it – Brownie. The menu also offers an intriguing range of Elixirs in flavours such as turmeric and beetroot, plus an appropriately generous array of teas and coffees.

2 Market Street Ellon, AB41 9JD (Tel: 01358 725071)

HBW, Stirling

Based in the premises of a former optician – you can still see the old sign – Stirling’s HBW is a speciality coffee shop and vegan café, so the hot chocolate offer is relatively limited. You can have regular, large or iced. That’s it. But the cool wall murals, industrial chic and artsy vibe make up for it – and discerning vegans for whom the difference between oat, pea and soy milk matters will find all tastes catered for. Those who don’t want coffee or hot chocolate can picks from chai, turmeric, beetroot and Matcha lattes.

54/56 Barnton Street, Stirling, FK8 1NA (Tel: 01786 451973)

Co Co Company, Dumfries

Based in a former school, artisan chocolate makers Co Co Company are veterans of farmers’ markets and food festivals from Kirkcudbright to Edinburgh and beyond. They also have a café where you’ll find their hand-made chocolates for sale alongside more molten delicacies. A recent hit was their Black Forest Hot Chocolate. Take some sour cherry sauce, add dark hot chocolate, top with whipped cream then add chocolate sauce, chocolate sprinkles and popping candy. The shop also sells hot chocolate stirrers – a lump of chocolate on a stick: just add to milk – in mint, raspberry and caramel.

The Old School, Brooke Street, Dumfries DG1 2JL (Tel: 01387 263689)

Hotel Chocolat, Glasgow

With two branches in Scotland’s biggest city, two more in the capital and one each in Aberdeen and Inverness (though neither of those have cafés), Hotel Chocolat is like Starbucks for hot chocolate. Its USP is high-end sachets and gizmos such as the Velvetiser Hot Chocolate System, but plonk yourself down in Glasgow’s Princes Square branch and you can let somebody else make it for you. The café menu offers both large and regular hot chocolates in flavours which include mint, vanilla, salted caramel, hazelnut and chilli. You can also opt for 100% dark chocolate if that is your bag.

42 Buchanan Street, G1 3JX (Tel: 204 4193)

Tobermory Chocolate, Mull

Keith and Rhonda Drake opened their chocolate shop in 1991 and in 2003 moved to their current premises, in the building which doubles as Eddie McCredie’s garage in popular children’s programme Balamory. From the café there’s an excellent view of the beach and if you’re lucky you may catch sight of a porpoise or dolphin – or you may be too busy gazing in wonder at what’s in front of you. Hot chocolate is a speciality, of course, and if you like what you drink, you can leave holding a milk or white chocolate spoon. Yup, an entire spoon made from chocolate, with marshmallow bits stuck to the end. Just heat up some milk, pour it over, and let thermo-dynamic theory do the rest

57 Main Street, Tobermory, Isle of Mull, PA75 6NT (Tel: 01688 302526)

Milk Bar, Inverness

Located in the Highland city’s covered Victorian Market, Milk Bar users coo over the speciality white hot chocolate and if the café’s Instagram feed is anything to go by the Belgian Black Forest hot chocolate looks pretty special as well (comes on a plate and drizzled with delicious-looking sticky stuff). There are gluten-free brownies, vegan treats, all manner of cakes and pastries, and as much as they can the owner support local businesses such as the Black Isle Dairy (ice-cream), the Inverness Roasting Company (coffee, obviously), Dochfour Honey and The Clever Lassie (cakes and bakes). And the coffee? Best flat white in the Highlands, apparently.

8 Market Arcade, Victorian Market, Inverness IV1 1PG

Tatha Bar & Kitchen, Dundee

The restaurant/café at Dundee’s V&A museum has only a rudimentary hot chocolate offering – you can have it as is, or add a marshmallow – but it’s still a pretty special (and prettily scenic) place to park yourself for a wee winter warmer. There’s also a wide range of coffees and teas, soya and oat milk are available on request and the cream tea is available all day. Reservations are required for parties of more than four people.

1 Riverside Esplanade, DD1 4EZ (Tel: 01382 411 633)

Honeycomb & Co., Edinburgh

Located in douce Bruntsfield, this café and shop does sumptuous (and boozy) weekend brunches as well as a full breakfast and lunch menu (check out the Shakshuka, their twist on a North African baked egg dish made with feta cheese and red peppers). The hot chocolate offering matches that for thoughtfulness and quality. The chocolate is from Kokoa Collection, award-winning specialists in single-origin hot chocolate, and you can choose from drinks made from 70% Dark Dominican Republic Origin chocolate or 58% Creamy Milky Venezuelan Sao Tome. A new addition to the menu is Toasted Coconut Hot Chocolate, made from 70% dark Dominican Republic chocolate flakes steamed with coconut milk and toasted coconut flakes. It’s served with home-made marshmallow.

Edinburgh, 1 Merchiston Place, EH10 4NP (Tel: 0131 228 4641)