We made 11 different types of hot chocolate one evening… and here’s what we found

Posted on November 15, 2015

It was a cold and rainy night. One of those days where all you want do do is curl up with a mug full of “liquid cuddles”. Or, you might know it by a different name: hot chocolate.

We thought, what would be better to do than make hot chocolate out of a bunch of different chocolate bars that we have on hand? (One of the awesome perks of being in the chocolate business is that we always have a lot of chocolate bars laying around.)

So, we did.

We were really excited because this gave us an opportunity to test out something that we’d been wanting to try for a long time: making hot chocolate out of “inclusion” chocolate bars.  That’s the type we’re so obsessed with over here — chocolate bars with a flavor or some kind of ingredient in them…not just plain chocolate.

Why have we always wanted to try this out? Well, if you think about it, the hot chocolate that’s readily available locally or even online is usually quite limited. You can always get your standard dark/milk/white hot chocolate powder, and sometimes if you’re lucky you can get a mint hot chocolate or maybe a salted caramel hot chocolate. And if you’re really lucky….chocolate shavings! Luxury of all luxuries!

But what if you want something different? Maybe a different flavor, or maybe just a higher quality chocolate. You’re out of luck.

So we’ve been thinking that the solution to this problem lies within the chocolate bars that we love so very much. Why not just make your hot chocolate out of a regular chocolate bar? It’s pretty easy — just get a grater and make your own chocolate shavings. And now you can have any flavor you want.

And, we’ve also been dying to see how our favorite chocolate bars performed as hot chocolate. Would the flavor remain consistent with how it tastes in solid form by its own, or would it be totally different?

This night gave us the perfect opportunity to put all of this to the test. We took 11 chocolate bars that we thought would make great hot chocolate, and shaved off enough from each one to make hot chocolate.

chocolate-with-cups

Here’s our chocolate shavings laid out with the mini-mugs we used for tasting

Then, we warmed a bunch of milk and got to tasting!

Nice frothy hot chocolate! Yum!

Nice frothy hot chocolate! Yum!

The results were VERY interesting.  Some bars tasted exactly the same as a hot chocolate while. some tasted very different. There were disappointments, there were surprising winners, and there were learnings (which you will want to pay attention to so you can enjoy your own hot chocolate experience but better!).

First up…here are our experiences for each chocolate bar that we tried. We’ll summarize how each one turned out and give it a score for how well it worked as a hot chocolate (keep in mind that this is NOT score for how good the chocolate bar is when you eat it normally, it’s ONLY a score for how good it tasted as a hot chocolate).

Make sure you don’t miss our Recommendations and Learnings section at the end so you can have your own chocolate tasting!

Limoncello Dark Chocolate by Perugina

This bar tasted great as a hot chocolate! We thought there was a great balance between the lemon and chocolate flavors — neither overpowered the other. This was one of the more surprising results, so we’re happy we tried this bar!

Score: 9/10

Dark Chocolate with Mango by Ghirardelli

If you’re feeling indecisive and can’t decide between having a hot chocolate and…say…a smoothie, this is a great chocolate bar to make hot chocolate out of! We found the mango flavor to be slightly overwhelming. So if you love fruity hot chocolate, this is perfect. Otherwise, you’ll still definitely enjoy it, but the mango flavor might put you off a bit. (Oh, but it smells amazing either way)

Score: 7/10 

Dark Chocolate with Pistachio by Cote D’or

This one was a disappointment. If you’ve tasted this chocolate bar before, you know it has a very rich, sweet pistachio flavor that blends with the dark chocolate to create perfection in a bar.

Unfortunately, none of that seemed to come through as hot chocolate. It tasted more like just regular hot chocolate, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but not what we were expecting (and it means you aren’t eating this bar, which is where it really shines).

However, we might not have put enough chocolate into this one. If you want to try it for yourself, make sure to stay at the higher end of our recommended chocolate/milk ratio — see below.

Score: 5/10

Dark Chocolate with Wild Blackberry by Chocolate Santander

As a chocolate bar, this was one of our surprise favorites. We didn’t realize it was going to have such a rich sweetness from the blackberry flavor that combined quite well with the dark chocolate.

Unfortunately, most of that didn’t translate over when we made hot chocolate using this bar. The blackberry flavor didn’t really shine through, and it was more of a “general berry” flavor.

So you might like this one if you like a fruity flavor complementing the chocolate but don’t want it to be overpowering (it’s kind of like the opposite of the mango bar above).

Oh, and there are seeds in this bar, which came through and made the hot chocolate experience slightly less pleasant. Definitely strain this one before pouring into your mug! (See our Recommendations and Learnings below).

Score: 6/10

72% Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Caramel by Nirvana

This is where our hot chocolate tasting got interesting. The last two chocolate bars didn’t taste overly similar when made into hot chocolate. However, this bar tasted , un the same as both a regular chocolate bar and as a hot chocolate.

Overall, we feel that the sea salt flavor in this bar overpowers the caramel flavor (in both bar and hot chocolate form), so that’s why we don’t rate this one higher. It’s good, but not great.

Score: 7/10

Milk Chocolate with Butterscotch by Butlers

This was one of our favorite milk chocolate bars, so we were super excited to try it as a hot chocolate!

However, our results were slightly disappointing (although inconclusive because we don’t think we used enough chocolate). The chocolate flavor didn’t really come through, so it ended up being more like “butterscotch milk” flavor vs “butterscotch hot chocolate”. It was still very tasty, though, which is why it still received a decent score.

As previously mentioned, we don’t think we used enough chocolate and that’s why this one didn’t turn out as well as we thought it would. Because this is already a milk chocolate bar, doubling the amount of chocolate probably would have resulted in a much better hot chocolate. See our Recommendations and Learnings below for more on this.

Score: 6/10

Cinnamon Milk Chocolate by NEWTREE

This is one of our favorite chocolate bars of all time, so we were obviously very eager to try it as a hot chocolate. However, we ran into the same issue as the milk chocolate butterscotch bar above — we didn’t use enough chocolate.

But, worse, neither the milk chocolate nor the cinnamon flavor ended up coming through so it was more like “warm milk”.  We’re definitely going to give it another try using more chocolate, but for now we aren’t able to give it a high rating, unfortunately :(

Score: 3/10

Organic Dark Spicy Aztec Chocolate by Lake Champlain Chocolates

This was actually a new bar to us, but we wanted to be sure to include a spicy chocolate bar in our hot chocolate experiment. If you listen to the history buffs, this is how the Aztecs enjoyed their chocolate — as a hot drink with spices mixed in.

So how did it turn out? We thought it was great! The spices added a bit of a tingle when you drank it, which was very nice. The spice definitely came through and warmed things up a bit, which is great for those cold, rainy days!

Score: 8/10

Dark Chocolate with Mint by Green & Blacks

This is one we were really looking forward to as a hot chocolate, and it delivered! First, it smells fantastic so before you take a sip you know it’s going to taste great.

And taste great it does! It’s the perfect combination of chocolate and mint for a hot chocolate. Not only that, it also leaves a nice fresh taste in your mouth, which is a nice bonus.

Score: 10/10

White Chocolate with Roses and Strawberries by Cacao Sampaka

This is another one we were anticipating — especially the white chocolate lovers among us!

The results were interesting: while the rose flavor doesn’t particularly stand out in the chocolate bar, it really came out as a hot chocolate. Obviously, you’re not going to get the regular chocolatey flavor because this is a white chocolate bar, but it did taste very rich and not like simply flavored milk.

Score: 10/10 if you love white chocolate, 6/10 if you don’t

Milk Chocolate with Espresso Beans by Madecasse

We really wanted to see if this would make a great morning pick-me-up or potentially a replacement for a coffee.

And it did.

However… there is one small modification that you will definitely want to do: strain out the espresso beans before pouring the hot chocolate into your mug! We learned this the hard way — little bits of espresso beans at the bottom of the mug is slightly unpleasant and diminishes the experience.

But other than that, this one was great — the espresso flavor came through wonderfully and so did the chocolate flavor. Even better, much of the bitterness that sometimes accompanies espresso beans was gone.

Score: 9/10

So that’s it!  As you can see, we had some winners, some losers, and a bunch of hard-won advice sprinkled through our recap of each bar.

We want you to be able to take our experience and have your own hot chocolate tastings, but even better. So, we compiled all of the things we learned into one section so you can avoid some of the small mistakes we made.

Recommendations and Learnings

  • It works! The biggest learning here was that you can definitely you can make hot chocolate out of any hot chocolate bar! No need to get special “hot chocolate” — just make chocolate shavings out of any chocolate bar with a good grater. Now, there is nothing wrong with traditional hot chocolate powder or shavings (as long as you’re not doing Yoohoo…), but this is simply another way to make hot chocolate (and have more variety!)
  • Amount of chocolate to use. We experimented with different ratios of chocolate to milk and found that you need more chocolate proportionally than you do with traditional powdered cacao. Our recommendation is to use between between 3 and 4 tablespoons (or roughly 43 to 57 grams) of chocolate shavings per cup of milk. Keep it on the lower end if you prefer less of a chocolatey flavor and stick to the higher end if you like a stronger chocolate flavor.
  • Milk chocolate. If you’re using a milk chocolate bar, you might need even more chocolate per cup of milk than our recommendations above. If you think about it, these bars already have milk in them, so they naturally have a lower chocolate to milk ratio and will require more of the chocolate to balance things out.
  • Strain the hot chocolate first if using a bar with “chunky” inclusions. If you’re making chocolate with a bar that has actual physical inclusions (and not just flavors), then you will need to use a fine strainer before pouring your hot chocolate into your mug to filter out the chunks. (Read about our experience with the espresso and blackberry bars above).
  • Use a frother. If you like frothy hot chocolate, use a milk frother (this is the one we used — only $2.79!) to blend the chocolate shavings into the milk. Not only does it add a nice froth to your hot chocolate, but it makes the blending of the chocolate into the milk really easy. If you don’t like froth, then just use a whisk :)
  • Try some cream. If you want some really rich hot chocolate, try replacing some of the milk with heavy cream. The exact ratio is up to you, but we have had good results using 1/8 cup heavy cream and 7/8 cup milk. However, this is totally optional and using only milk will still be delicious!

So, what’s next?

Well, for one, we’ll definitely be trying some of these again (straining those chunky inclusion bars and using more chocolate for the milk chocolate bars!) and trying some new flavors.

If you think a nice cup of hot chocolate sounds amazing right now, then we say…go make some hot chocolate! And we hope you try out your favorite chocolate bar to make it.

Now, the one thing you’ll definitely need here if you want to make hot chocolate out of a chocolate bar is….a chocolate bar! (or two, or three!)

If you’re a Mystery Chocolate Box subscriber, then you already receive 3 delicious chocolate bars each month, so we suggest saving part of those bars to try as hot chocolate. Or, if you’re not a subscriber, then you can either become one, give a gift subscription to someone special and hope they share, or buy some chocolate bars from our shop. Of course, you can always head to a local store and pick up some chocolate, but we find that to be not quite as fun somehow in our (biased) opinion.

(End shameless plug)

Now, it’s your turn! We want to hear from you :) Have you tried making hot chocolate out of a delicious chocolate bar with an interesting inclusion? Or, if not, what’s the best hot chocolate you’ve ever had?

Ok, last thing… Hot chocolate season has officially begun, so please share this post with all of the chocolate lovers you know!

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2 Replies to "We made 11 different types of hot chocolate one evening... and here's what we found"

  • Darla
    May 17, 2017 (8:23 pm)
    Reply

    Vhat a fabulous idea!!! wow! thanks for including all your notes so that we won’t make the same mistakes. I just got a new computer, I was writing you a letter when it blew up …so far so good this time Anyway thanks for the wonderful emails each month. I am now able to respond to them so am looking forward to hopefully be able to afford your club one day soon, Once again I really think the hot chocolate idea was a good one and thanks for the pointers.
    Sincerely, Darla

    • mysterychocolatebox
      May 17, 2017 (8:26 pm)
      Reply

      Hey Darla, glad you’ve enjoyed this post and our emails!

      And, we’re glad to hear you we able to replace your old computer (RIP — what a way to go!).

      Looking forward to seeing you as a member as well :)

      Cheers,

      Peter


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