CAPSULE REPORT: Intrepid contributing editor Stephanie Zonis tasted 65 hot chocolates and cocoas to report on the different styles and guide you to finding the ones to warm your heart, body and soul during the cold winter ahead. You’ll also learn the history of the beverage, its health benefits and other nuggets of information. This article, Part 1, is the overview; the hot chocolate and cocoa reviews are in Part 2 of this comprehensive review. This is Page 1 of the six-page Part 1. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.
It’s cold and cloudy and windy outside and you want something comforting to warm you up. Or maybe it’s a yen for something chocolate. If you reach for a hot cocoa or hot chocolate mix, you’ll have a lot of company.
A 2001 study found that more than 60% of American households buy and stock hot cocoa mix (figures for hot chocolate mix don’t seem to be available, and it wasn’t clear if the “hot cocoa mix” referred to included hot chocolate preparations as well—the terms are used interchangeably).
But all hot cocoa and hot chocolate mixes are not equal. If you buy a typical supermarket brand, you’ll pay much less than you will for a “gourmet” product, but the ingredients will usually be of lesser quality and often include chemicals and artificial flavors.
By contrast, premium brands are more expensive (in some cases, far more expensive), but they tend to use fewer and better ingredients—and taste much better as a result.
A hefty sixty-five hot chocolates and hot cocoas were sampled for this article, and they ranged from magnificently awe-inspiring (how can something so simple be so rich and so delicious?) to downright avoidable.
Hot chocolate garnished with a sprig of fresh mint...and some chocolate truffles. Photo courtesy Recchiuti Confections.
With so many choices on the market, hot chocolate and cocoa lovers can spend their money and calories in many places. This article gives you are perspective on the best places to spend them—and before we get there, an overview of the beverage most people think of very fondly.
Continue To Page 2: History Of Cocoa
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