How do you take your hot chocolate - Spicy? Packed full of beetroot? Maybe you like to eat the cup afterwards?

People will be able to broaden their sweet drink horizons during the annual hot chocolate challenge in the Hutt Valley, with 17 hospitality operators offering up a specially-created concoction for customers to try.

The Sweet As Hutt's Hot Chocolate Challenge starts on Thursday and runs until July 28, during which time people can sample various hot chocolates and vote for their favourites.

One of the quirkier options on offer is Colab cafe's cookie cup - an edible cup about the size of a shot glass which can hold the hot chocolate.

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Tūtaki Cafe has created their Whero Berry Pop for this year's challenge. Photo / Lilia Alexander
Tūtaki Cafe has created their Whero Berry Pop for this year's challenge. Photo / Lilia Alexander

Customers will be able to pour their hot chocolate into the cup and eat the whole thing when they're finished.

Owner Claire Matheson said they had been working on the cup since January, with the help of The Cookie Project, an Auckland-based social enterprise that employs people with disabilities to make cookies.

Months of work had gone into making a cup that could hold a hot liquid for a period of time - the cookie cup will last about as long as it takes to drink the hot chocolate.

Sue Read, owner of Shine Cafe, has created a beetroot hot chocolate for this year's Sweet As Hutt's Hot Chocolate Challenge. Photo / Melissa Nightingale
Sue Read, owner of Shine Cafe, has created a beetroot hot chocolate for this year's Sweet As Hutt's Hot Chocolate Challenge. Photo / Melissa Nightingale

The challenge has been great for business, she said. The first year, Colab sold a couple of hundred of their creations. Last year, when they offered a marshmallow that opened into a flower once put in the drink, they sold just under 1500.

"If it helps, I have ordered 2000 cookie cups, but I'm prepared if I need to put an order in mid-challenge."

Another unusual contribution is the extra-health Beet the Blast from Shine cafe, an immunity-boosting beetroot blend with a dusting of cacao, with the usual marshmallow replaced with beetroot chips on the side.

Cafe owner Sue Read said the vegan drink uses about half a beetroot per serving.

Sue's hot chocolate uses half a beetroot per serving. Photo / Lilia Alexander
Sue's hot chocolate uses half a beetroot per serving. Photo / Lilia Alexander

"It's more like a wine, where you sit and you drink it."

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Read said the drink was for savouring, rather than gulping down.

Then there's the Mexican hot chocolate at takeaway shop Coffix, inspired by barista Maya Castrejon's memories of home.

The Californian woman remembers her grandmother making spicy hot chocolates and said adding the Mexican chilli to the white hot chocolate was a homage to those recipes.

Owner Gil Salz said they had only been in the Hutt for 11 months, so this was their first time participating in the challenge.

He said their hot chocolate's spiciness helped differentiate it from other hot chocolates that were packed with sugar.

Hutt City Council CBD development manager Cyndi Christensen said about 9000 signature hot chocolates were sold in last year's challenge.

"Last year's winner Fix Federation with their Salted Caramel Fix sold so many hot chocolates during the challenge, they averaged 72 hot chocolates a day," she said.

More information about what hot chocolates are available and where can be found on the Sweet As Hutt Hot Chocolate Challenge Facebook page.

Cuffs cafe have a french-inspired
Cuffs cafe have a french-inspired "Ohh La La" hot chocolate on offer. Photo / Lilia Alexander