Guest Author - Deborah Markus
When I wrote a column some time back about perfecting my own recipe for drinking chocolate -- which differs from cocoa or hot chocolate in the same way that silk departs from polyester or snow from chipped ice -- I had no idea that the professionals were trying their hand at mass-producing the beverage.
While on vacation recently, however, I came across two separate instances of instant drinking chocolate. I brought them both home, along with a tin of Godiva's dark chocolate truffle hot cocoa mix for a comparison basis.
Both mixes (and the Godiva's, of course) call for milk rather than water. Water could never produce the unabashed richness that is drinking chocolate, no matter how much of whatever you added to it. I got perfectly good results from skim milk, but obviously the richer the milk the richer the drink.
I tried Ghirardelli's Drinking Chocolate first. I almost hesitate to call this a mix, since what you stir into the hot milk isn't powder but lovely chocolate pellets about the size and shape of miniature chocolate chips. Four tablespoons of these are recommended for six ounces of milk, although if you prefer to chew your beverage, the label allows four tablespoons to three ounces of milk.
Four to six worked well for me. It was certainly rich, and a cup of conventional cocoa would have tasted worse than plain milk in comparison. There was, however, a certain high-pitched sweetness to it that kept me from drinking too much.
Next was Twinings Chocolate Indulgence. Rather than pellets or powder, this mix was in the form of rough cocoa flakes. I liked the looks, and the scent, of that.
What I couldn't stand was the taste. The label proudly proclaims a cacao count of 65%. Perhaps Twinings is jumping on the dark-chocolate-as-a-source-of-antioxidants bandwagon, and believes that its customers will put up with a certain medicinal flavor in the interest of good health. However, the fact that it's mixed with milk wipes out any benefits in that respect, since antioxidants bind with milk proteins and leave the body.
The Twinings was also about as rich and creamy as a glass of lemonade. I wondered if whoever wrote the label copy had bothered to try a cup of the product, or had been specifically warned not to.
As a last test, I mixed up a cup of the Godiva, which doesn't claim to be drinking chocolate per se, but which I have always enjoyed as a hot chocolate drink a notch above cocoa. It was a shade less rich than the Ghirardelli, but smoother, quieter, deeper.
The bottom line is this: if you want first-rate hot chocolate, go Godiva. If you want drinking chocolate, you have to make it from scratch.