Hot chocolate is one of life’s real pleasures. But did you know there’s more to a good mug of the stuff than bunging in a couple of spoons of drinking chocolate powder? Find out what we thought of some of the drinks out there in this hot chocolate review.
All this blustery and quite frankly miserable weather we’ve been experiencing down here in Cornwall over the last few days means that we are in need of warming comfort food. What could be more comforting than wrapping your hands around a mug of steaming hot chocolate in cheery defiance of the weather gods?
Luckily I have both hot chocolate and some rather fine goat’s milk in plentiful supply.
Goat’s Milk Hot Chocolate
The goats at St Helen’s Farm in East Yorkshire have been producing fresh milk for the last 27 years. Many people who find themselves unable to drink cow’s milk, are able to tolerate the goat version.
Do watch out for future goaty posts where I will be trying out other products from the farm. I’m not normally a fan of skimmed milk, or even semi-skimmed milk, but I did like both of these in goat form and they do work remarkably well for chocolates. There is a slight goaty tang, but it’s not too strong and adds another dimension to the drink which I could become quite addicted to.
Chocolate Week has brought me many delights and one of these was a chocolate bar from Barry Callebaut with my name iced on the top. This put a big smile on my face. It wasn’t long, however, before the bar disappeared. Half of it went into a pan of skimmed goat’s milk to make the hot chocolate you can see above and the other half I shared with CT a little later.
Hans Sloane Drinking Chocolate
Back in May, I reviewed Hans Sloane Natural Honey and Rich Dark drinking chocolates and was favourably impressed. I hoped I’d then get to try their award winning Madagascar and Ecuador single origin varieties. So I was delighted when a fragrant parcel arrived in the post.
CT and I girded our loins and got down to the difficult business of doing a compare and contrast exercise. It was difficult to see much difference in the appearance of these two chocolates but when it came to smell and taste the resemblance disappeared.
Thick and rich as these drinking chocolates are, I decided to taste test them with water once again. I find this can be a good way to go when conducting a hot chocolate review. The shiny chocolate beads melt beautifully this way and the flavours are’nt masked by dairy.
I found, with absolutely no surprise whatsoever, that we liked both of them. We did, however, have a preference and we both had the same one.
Hans Sloane Hot Chocolate Review
Madagascar 67% – a rich and fruity aroma wafts up from the packet on opening. It has a strong fruity taste with aromatic cardamom notes. It’s also a little bitter and leaves a slightly drying sensation behind in the mouth.
Ecuador 70% – the fragrance is more of tobacco in this case. It has woody notes with liquorice tones that make it quite robust. It is less sweet, richer and drier than the Madagascar which makes it our favourite.
Mortimer Chocolate Powder
Some of you may be aware that I’m a big fan of Mortimer’s chocolate powders. I find them absolutely fabulous for chocolate bakes because you don’t need to melt anything. The chocolate is already ground down to a powder, so it can go straight into the mix. There’s less fuss and less washing up.
The powders also make excellent hot chocolates. Not only do they taste good, but the chocolate melts quickly and easily. The dark chocolates are both 70%, but come from two different continents: one from Ecuador and one from West Africa. I’ve reviewed these in this spicy dark chocolate cake post, so I won’t repeat my findings here. The fruity West African, however, worked particularly well in these rich chocolate scones.
The white couverture powder is equally impressive and contains 40% cocoa solids, which is much higher than many brands. Flavoured with natural vanilla, it is free from both gluten and soya. I’ve used it in various recipes, but you can find specific mention in my red gooseberry cakes and burnt butter cupcakes. I have to confess that I’ve not tried this as a hot chocolate, but for those with a sweet tooth, I expect it would make a very nice drink indeed.
Zuma Hot Chocolate
As well as the fabulous Byron Bay cookies I’ve reviewed in the past, Beyond the Bean also supply hot chocolate. Not only did I get a big bag of Zuma hot chocolate, but some more of the fabulous biscuits and two mugs. In addition, when I unwrapped the parcel, I found a couple of bottles of Sweetbird syrups, toffee and hazelnut, as well as a couple of pumps to go with them. How cool is that?
One of the first things I do when I see a new product is to check the list of ingredients. I can’t help myself. Annoyingly, I noted a few unnecessary ingredients in the Zuma hot chocolate. Admittedly, I’m a bit of a purist and prefer my food to be as natural and as unprocessed as possible, but I was a little taken aback to find dextrose, flavouring and salt in addition to sugar and cocoa.
Flavouring is such a ubiquitous and meaningless term. For it tells you precisely nothing, other than that something unspecified has been added. The cocoa powder is fat reduced, so maybe that’s why extra flavouring is needed. I’d naively assumed hot chocolate would contain, cocoa powder, sugar and nothing else. When we tried a cup, I have to say neither of us were that impressed by the taste either. It was way too sweet and also had a bit of a weird flavour.
The mugs, however are lovely. With my penchant for warm colours, I was delighted by the bright orange background and the yellow writing. Hot chocolate associated words adorned the mugs, conjuring up images of warmth and cosiness. These are perfect for hot chocolate and I’ve been using them regularly ever since.
Strangely, I was less worried about the syrups. This is mostly because I sort of expected there to be a long list of ingredients I’d be less than happy with. As it turned out, I was pleasantly surprised to find there are no artificial preservatives in these Sweetbird syrups. And they’re also the only ones that have Vegetarian Society approval.
In fact there was nothing there I had an issue with except the term “aromas”. What does that mean? It does say on the label that there are no artificial flavours, so maybe I’m being unduly suspicious.
I’ve seen these syrups, or something similar, in cafes and they appear to be quite popular. But I’d never tried them until now. I had some Hazelnut in a hot chocolate. All I can say is, it didn’t do it for me. I reckon they’d be much more successful in cake toppings and fillings and that’s what I shall use them for. In fact, I’ve already used the toffee syrup to good effect in this toffee yogurt cake.
Discover More Chocolate Week Deliciousness
Come back tomorrow for more ChocolateWeek tasters. And don’t miss out on the ones from earlier this week:
For more hot chocolate reviews and recipes, take a look at my hot chocolate tag.
Stay in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you try any of these hot chocolates, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Do share photos on your preferred social media site and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
Thanks go to Hans Sloane, Mortimer Chocolate Company, St Helen’s Farm, Beyond The Bean and Barry Callebaut for the various samples. I was not required to write positive reviews and as always, all opinions are my own. Thank you also for your support of the brands and organisations that help to keep Tin and Thyme blithe and blogging.