I’m a big coffee drinker, but my boyfriend can’t stand the stuff. Instead he is something of a tea drinker; when we go into a coffee shop to get a drink, he will often order a hot chocolate, which he also enjoys, so for Christmas I bought him an expensive, luxurious hot chocolate mix.
Bad experiences on ski slopes and at Continental coffee houses in the height of winter have rather coloured my view – scalding temperatures, unpleasant chocolate and excessive canned “whipped cream” – but perhaps I might have been a bit harsh.
There are a number of really high-quality, and equally highly priced, hot chocolate mixes on the market. I went for Death by Hot Chocolate by Artisan du Chocolat (£8.99 for 150g). It comes in a container modelled on an old apothecary jar, harking back to the times when chocolate was dispensed by such people to be consumed as a medicinal drink. It’s a mix of dark and white chocolate with mini marshmallows and, when made, tastes beautiful. The problem, one I’ll bet is the same with all premium drinking chocolate, as purveyors like to call it, is the expense.
I thought I’d attempt to make my own version and see if a quality drink can be made for less
The mix itself is not cheap, but that’s just the start of it. For each drink you are required to use 40g of the chocolate mix, so you fall just short of four servings from a jar, meaning that each drink costs a minimum of £2.25. To this you add 200ml of milk and 40ml of double cream every time, which is probably another 30-50p, and then there is the vanilla. If you use real pods they are about one pound each, or you could use vanilla extract, but that is still about £4 for a small bottle.
For one drink you are paying as much as £4, with the chocolate mix being just over half the total cost of the drink. At this price, if you were to have one chocolate drink a day, just as you might have a coffee a day, it would cost you £28 per week, which we can all agree is going it a bit.
So I thought I’d attempt to make my own version and see if a quality drink can be made for less. Clearly there are certain ingredients that are the same: the need for milk and cream, and also vanilla. I’m going to use real vanilla pods, given it’s no more expensive, and, if you look around, you will find packs of them where it works out at less than a pound a pod. But for going on with, let’s put the cost of the ingredients so far at £1.50. To this, of course, must be added the chocolate.
Basing the ingredients of my mix on what looks to be in the Artisan du Chocolat offering, the recipe I have come up with is made up of two thirds 70% dark Peruvian chocolate, one sixth milk chocolate, and one sixth white chocolate. This is my preferred mixture by ratio of the different chocolates, but it’s a personal thing, so if you have a very sweet tooth or don’t have one at all, increase or decrease respectively the proportion of milk and white chocolate to dark chocolate. This cost me £1.40 per 100g, giving a total of £4.20 for 300g of chocolate mix. Add to this the mini marshmallows, a 180g bag of which costs £1 and contains numerous hundreds of them, whereas you only need a handful per drink.
To the sums. The total cost per drink, at a rough overestimation, works out at £2.25 a mug, and my basic mix of chocolate and marshmallows provides twice as much as the luxury bought blend, at a little over half the price. It’s still cheaper each time, too, even though I’m using more chocolate per drink than the instructions for the mix recommend, and more cream and milk too.
Chocolate mixture –
- 200g 70% dark chocolate (I chose Peruvian)
- 50g milk chocolate
- 50g white chocolate
- Handful of marshmallows
For each drink –
- 50-60g of the chocolate mix
- 60ml double cream
- 250ml milk
- 1 vanilla pod or a teaspoon of vanilla extract
Make the chocolate mixture by chopping the chocolate into shavings or small pieces and mix together in a pot for storage.
Next make the hot chocolate by pouring the 60ml of double cream and the milk into a saucepan along with the vanilla. If using a vanilla pod, cut it in half lengthways and run the edge of your knife along the inside to remove the seeds, adding the seeds and skin of the pod to the milk and cream. Turn on the hob and heat the milk gently to about 80°C. Make sure it doesn’t boil as, if it does, you will need to start again.
When the milk is hot, remove the vanilla pod skin. Add the chocolate mix to the mug you intend to drink from. Then pour enough of the hot milk onto the chocolate so that it just covers it. With a teaspoon, mix the liquid and chocolate to form a chocolate paste. Then slowly add the rest of the milk while stirring.
Finally, add some of the marshmallows, and, if you so desire, top with whipped cream, made by whipping up about 30ml of double cream with a little bit of icing sugar