Hot Chocolate Snackdown

Ohhh, snap. We haven’t done this in ages. New England has been hit with more crap than Poland in 1939, and by “crap” I obviously mean snow. It’s no longer a winter wonderland. This is war. So Keepitcoming and I have been keeping the chills at bay with hot chocolate. And sex, but also hot chocolate. After accumulating a few different brands, we thought it would be fun to compare them. Two, Chuao and TCHO, are more upscale and can be bought at your local Whole Foods or organic co-op, and the other, Ghiradelli, is available at any grocery store. Except Food Lion. ‘Cause it sounds strange.All three of these took vastly different modes of preparation and had different ingredient compositions. The Ghiradelli was completely powder, with the first three ingredients being sweet ground chocolate, sugar, and soy lecithin. Considering that 2/3rds of those were just permutations of sugar, it didn’t seem promising. The TCHO listed unsweetened dark chocolate, sugar, and cocoa powder, and the Chuao listed dark chocolate, dehydrated milk powder, and sugar, making it the mix with the least sugar. The TCHO was completely chunks of chocolate with no powder to be seen, and the Chuao resembled a cross between the previous two.Each of these took eight ounces of boiled milk in a saucepan, the difference being the time one added the chocolate and the amounts. Of the three, the Ghiradelli used the most powder, clocking in at four tablespoon’s worth. It ended up being extremely sweet with a very watery consistency, a strange topnote of burning plastic, and coated my mouth with an unpleasant chalkiness. Despite that this is commercially viable and easy to pick up, it would not be my first choice next time.The Chuao fared much better. Unlike our ill-fated Vosges chocolate, this seized up in a pleasant way and gave the drink a pudding-like, custardy texture. The flavor was rich with a slight bitterness and was scented of vanilla. It really opened up over time, because at first it was not at all aromatic or scented, leading us to believe it was blander than it actually was, but it was truly a treat to consume. Even lukewarm, it was rich and had a defined dark chocolate flavor and left no chalkiness on the palate afterward.After that, we were pretty much convinced that gourmet drinking chocolate was the way to go, so we gave the TCHO a try. Huge mistake. I don’t think I’ve ever been this let down by a gourmet product before. The first red flag this raised was the inconsistent melting. I was most excited about this because it was completely chocolate chunks, but after allowing it to boil down to a liquid, I was dismayed to discover that there were still gritty chunks leftover in the pot. The little bits that made it along with the milk rendered the texture grainy and chalky, even moreso than the Ghiradelli! If I had bought this for full retail value, I’d have been very disappointed, as everything about this fell flat- the texture, the flavor, the aroma. Everything was falling short with this hot chocolate.Overall, I think we’d easily get Chuao again in stores, or even order it online if we could wait that long. It comes in different varieties as well, and it seems like a pleasant combination between a dessert and a drink that I wouldn’t get bored with easily. The other two are disappointing and should be avoided. I think it was the dehydrated milk powder in this that thickened it up to a drinkable, yet indulgent level, so that might be an ingredient you wish to look for in stores.TCHO and GhiradelliChuao

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