As the weather gets a little cooler, our ‘go-to’ winter warmer has got to be Hot Chocolate (second only to a lovely, spiced Mulled Wine), however, not all Hot Chocolate is created equal!
There are the granular dried cocoa mixes that are blended with water before consumption, and then there's the silky smooth, dreamy Hot Chocolate made with chunks of ‘real’ chocolate melted into milk / milk substitute, and I know which I prefer!
Vegan hot chocolate - It’s also worth noting that many instant drinking chocolate powders contain milk powder to give it a silkier thicker consistency, especially those you mix with hot water, so always check the packaging to see if your hot chocolate is vegan suitable. Our dark chocolate Hot Chocolate Stirrers are solid 70% dark chocolate, (no milk powder), whereas some people prefer to use water as their hot chocolate base but there’s also a great selection of plant-based milk alternatives that can provide a creamier end result e.g.soya milk, oat milk, nut milk - oat milk has a particularly nice mouthfeel.
In 1500 BC, Mayan civilisations worshipped xocolatl (or bitter water) - a savoury, spicy concoction, made from crushed cocoa beans, cornmeal and chilli peppers, and although the recipe has changed somewhat (I think I’ll stick with the new and improved version) this was the birthplace of hot chocolate. The Mayans also believed the cocoa bean was a gift from the gods with aphrodisiac and healing and mind-altering properties, it would also enable the drinker to enter the spiritual world.
Cocoa was then introduced to Europe by the Spanish conquerors and although proved very popular, it was available only to the wealthy however it was far more widespread by the 1700’s, with drinking chocolate houses set up all over England, and in 1828, Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten, created cocoa powder and modern-day hot chocolate was born.
In its purest form, hot chocolate (or hot cocoa as it was originally known) involves heating cocoa, sugar and milk together in a saucepan until mixed, see recipe below, but simply melting a good quality chocolate directly into milk, means delicious hot chocolate is quick and easy to enjoy wherever and whenever you want.
Our Hot Chocolate Stirrers are perfectly sized portions for a single mug, containing just the right amount of quality, high cocoa content Belgian chocolate so when melted into an average sized mug of milk, the flavour of delicious belgian chocolate will shine through.
Plus there’s the added convenience of individual packaging, making it simple to enjoy delicious hot chocolate anywhere, whether curled up on the sofa, or out walking on a crisp wintery day, just take a flask of hot milk and enjoy a ‘chocolate’ pit stop! All you need is your favourite mug filled with warm milk, pop the stirrer in and let the magic begin.
But if you’re looking to make up a batch of hot chocolate at home and need a larger amount, or simply want to do things differently, the following instructions should help.
Some recipes recommend melting the chocolate first and then adding to the hot milk, some recommend adding 'cold' solid chocolate to hot milk and stirring until melted, alternatively it's possible to add 'cold' chocolate to 'cold' milk and warm the two together. I’ve included both ways below so you can make up your own mind, but I personally find adding the chocolate to the milk, whilst it’s heating up (so milk and chocolate are increasing in temperature together), is the simplest way and works perfectly well, just be sure to mix really well before drinking.
TIPS FOR A CREAMIER SMOOTH TASTE - Give the hot chocolate a quick whizz with a hand held blender before serving – CAUTION, take care when blending hot liquids to avoid spills and splashes.
TIPS FOR POURING - If using a glass mug, put a spoon in the mug first to absorb the heat and prevent the glass from cracking.
TIPS FOR TOPPINGS - Check out our Hot Chocolate Recipes Blog for flavour and topping ideas for your Hot Chocolate.
Allow 35g of chocolate and 250ml of milk per person
Gently heat your milk in a saucepan over a moderate heat,
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl (non-metallic if using a microwave).
Melt your desired quantity of chocolate, either using the * bain marie method (see below), OR, gently and gradually in the microwave (microwave high (800W) for 30 second blasts) and stirring in between – this is important to stop ‘hot spots’ forming which will burn the chocolate making it hard and crumbly. You want your chocolate to be liquid.
When small bubbles form around the edge of the milk, remove from the heat. Do NOT let the milk boil (bubbles furiously and ‘fizzes’ up as it can result in a slightly grainy texture), and add in the melted chocolate. Stir or whisk until completely combined.
Allow to cool slightly before enjoying.
Allow 35g of chocolate and 250ml of milk per person
Chop the chocolate into small pieces, the smaller the better as it will melt faster.
MICROWAVE: Add both the chocolate and the milk to a microwave safe bowl or jug, and heat on Microwave HIGH (800W) for 30 second blasts at a time, stirring in between. The time taken for the milk to come to temperature and the chocolate to melt will vary depending on quantities used and the power of your microwave, so adjust as necessary, but always use shorter blasts of heat and STIR in between to ensure even heating and melting.
ON THE HOB: Add both the chocolate and the milk to the saucepan and heat gently over a moderate heat, stirring continuously until the chocolate pieces have completely dissolved. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly before enjoying.
Allow to cool slightly before pouring.
Can hot chocolate be reheated? Yes, but reheat gently, don’t boil. You can reheat on the stove, or give your ‘non-metallic mug’ a few gentle blasts in the microwave, stirring in between, until it’s at the desired temperature.
How to store left-over hot chocolate: Cool any leftover hot chocolate to room temperature, then refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat as per instructions above.
What’s the difference between Hot Chocolate and Hot Cocoa? Hot chocolate is made with ‘real’ chocolate whereas hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder. Hot chocolate is richer and more creamy due to the cocoa butter present in the chocolate.