Typically this blog is about behind-the-scenes visits and one-off event reports, but today it’s just about good ol’ hot chocolate because it’s been grey all week and the thoughts of this delicious drink have been never far from the top of my mind.
Time’s passing so quickly I can’t even remember when I received the knock on the door delivering this beautiful hamper from the Hans Sloane company with samples of their “chocolate for drinking” and a mug and milk frother. All I remember is that it was unseasonably warm so after taking a quick Instagram snap I popped the hamper on top of the cupboard waiting for a day when the weather would suit hot chocolate again – and I wasn’t already about to be indulging in one on a chocolate tour!
Cue this week. So much for summer from mid-April until the end of June. Tuesday was the first day following four consecutive days of guiding chocolate tours and I guess I was becoming especially accustomed to having the hot chocolate option… Back down came the hamper.
There are three different types of Hans Sloane “chocolate for drinking”: dark, milk and honey. The latter is also made using milk. Supposing that there are only so many hot chocolates one can drink at once (or should…) I decided just to try and honey and the dark versions. First with the honey. I followed the instructions – 3 tablespoons of polished pearls of chocolate per 250ml of milk or water – using Kokos dairy-free milk. I frothed the milk in the pan before and after adding the chocolate. It was like drinking sweet, liquid gold: pale coloured, smooth, warm and so comforting. I think if I’d finished it then I might have realised it was a little too sweet for my tastes but the addition of honey powder in the pearls makes it seem simultaneously that much more adult (honey’s healthy, right?) and comforting like being a child again. I think I used to be given warm honey and milk when I was sick, cold or sad when I was small. Perhaps that’s what aroused that feeling of comfort in me. If you can relate, I highly recommend getting your hands on this particular hot chocolate. Though even my sweet-toothed other half did find it even sweet for him (didn’t stop him drinking it!) so you may want to also buy the dark chocolate version and mix the two together in the same cup.
Then, the dark: this was much more what I would expect of a gourmet, at-home hot chocolate for adults. My favourite bit about this product is how quickly it melts and how nicely it mixes with the milk. I always make hot chocolate with real chocolate and often there is chocolate left at the bottom of the mug and bits floating at the top (neither, I admit, is a particular problem). I don’t think it’s just down to the wonderful Bodum frother that was included in my gift hamper, because I have used one before, but something in the ratio of ingredients in the pearls, or even their rounded shape? I had planned to drink this one, thinking my fiancé would be happy with the first. Turns out he also liked this one so I left it with him and made another, this time with water and replaced half the last tablespoon with some of the milk honey pearls. Highly recommended!
It almost makes me want the rainy weather to last. OK, I’m lying. But it does make it slightly more tolerable. I’m pretty sure these would be equally fabulous melted in a small amount of hot water and then frothed with cold milk when the summer does actually return.
270g packets of the chocolate pearls are available in Tesco and Waitrose. RRP is £4.99. These are not single-origin hot chocolates but certainly nicer than any powder you can buy in the supermarket.
If you were wondering, Sir Hans Sloane was a man of many reasons to be memorable. He was a great explorer and collector and his collections were pivotal in launching the British museum, he bought most of the land in Chelsea during the 17th and 18th Century before he died in his eighties (which became the Cadagon estate after his eldest daughter married Baron Cadagon) and, most importantly, encouraged the consumption of “hot chocolate” with milk rather than water to his patients for good health. You can learn more about him if you come on a Chelsea Chocolate Tour! (*cough**plug**cough*).
DISCLOSURE: The hamper was a gift from the Hans Sloane company.