“ Brand: Hotel Chocolat / Type: Hot chocolate powder / Flavours: Various flavours available „
I got a little packet of hot chocolate in with my Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club selection box last month and when I opened it up I was so impressed by what I saw that I felt sure it would be a thrilling experience and suggested the product to Dooyoo. The hot chocolate mix is like no other hot chocolate I've ever seen before. Instead of the usual powder, this consists of varying shades of chocolate flakes and little white chocolate stars (I'm aware that the Caramel Kiss mix normally comes with white chocolate hearts, and this was even stated on the packet, but I got stars, they tasted of caramel though so I guess it was just an anomaly). The instructions state that you should mix 5 teaspoons of the mix with 200ml milk and heat on the hob. "Pah!" I thought, and went about making it as I would any hot chocolate, heating a mug of milk in the microwave before adding the hot chocolate powder (or mix) and stirring. Well, on the first try I was very disappointed. The chocolate didn't melt in to the milk very well at all and the whole experience was just like drinking lukewarm milk with bits of half-melted chocolate floating in it, which is effectively what I WAS doing. Very bland indeed. Happily though, the little 60g packet I had contained enough for a second bite at the cocoa bean, so the next time I followed the instructions to the letter. I poured 500ml of milk into a pan and spooned in 5 teaspoons of the mix. There was a bit left over so I poured that in as well, so more like 6-7 teaspoons (OK so I didn't follow the instructions to the LETTER...). I stirred it all in and heated very gently on the hob, knowing what a schizophrenic character milk can be when it gets hot under the collar. Gradually the chocolate flakes started melting in and wafts of chocolate rose to my nostrils, like the smell of melting chocolate when you're baking. After about 5 minutes all the chocolate had melted and the milk had gone the sort of colour that milk goes in a bowl of Coco-Pops, a very pale brown so I was still apprehensive that it was going to be a bit insipid. The 200ml makes almost a mugful, which was surprising as it had looked a lot when I measured it out. Heating the milk on the hob certainly makes it keep its heat longer which was nice, although I noticed it did form a skin on the top rather too eagerly for my liking (I hate skin!!) Once it had cooled down enough I can confirm that following the instructions certainly paid off. This is a beautiful, rich (possibly down to the extra I put in though?), creamy and chocolaty hot choccy which has set me up nicely for bed. The caramel flavour doesn't seem as strong as the first time around, which is a mercy for me as I had found it quite sickly initially. The Caramel Kiss variety contains milk and soya and possible traces of nuts, but is alcohol free and suitable for vegetarians. I have no idea of the calorie content and to be honest I don't want to know! This stuff is quite pricy at £7 for a 275g jar and to be honest I wouldn't pay that for it. Maybe if they sold little sachets like Options or something for £1 a go, people might be more inclined to try them or to treat themselves once in a while. The hot chocolate range is quite wide, including Valencia Orange and Aztec Chilli (!) varieties, all for £7 per jar. Also available are £10 Selection Boxes, containing two of the varieties. They do all come in a very sleek and sophisticated looking glass jar with a silver lid and different coloured modern labels, and a few of them do have little heart and star shapes in the mix, but these little details don't justify the price for me. You can see (and purchase) all the products in the range online at www.hotelchocolat.co.uk and there are Hotel Chocolat shops dotted around the country (the only ones I know are Metro Centre and York), and although I have seen HC chocolate in certain supermarkets I don't think I've even seen the drinking chocolate.