Nothing enhances the winter cozies like a steaming cup of Christmas delight. This is especially true if the mug is filled with the best hot cocoa ever! I love this stuff so much that I drink it year round. So which brands and blends are the best? Read on, as I’ve done the tasting for you.
MINDFULNESS AND HOT COCOA
Mindfulness is the practice of sensory awareness. By focusing on taste, touch, smell, sight and sound, your mind is drawn into the present moment. This serves two important purposes:
- it grounds you, thus alleviating feelings of stress, and …
- it settles your mind in the “now”, which is the only place you can meet with God.
The warmth of sipping chocolate covers all these bases. Of course, there’s the taste. But what about those other senses?
- Close your eyes and notice the sweet smell, as your hands hug the warm steaming mug of goodness.
- Notice the color — the swirling dance of milk and cocoa, the bubbles popping and vanishing.
- As for the sense of sound, it’s not obvious, but neither is it absent. Notice your breath as it’s amplified, echoing from the depths of the mug as you slowly sip.
POINTS OF PERFECTION
Undoubtedly, your list of hot cocoa perfection will vary slightly from mine. We all have different tastes! But my aim is to provide you with a quality list to drink from — based on the following criteria (which I deem essential for chocolate-sipping pleasure):
- complexity of cocoa flavor
- lingering chocolatey-ness with no fake after-taste
- mix dissolves well in hot milk
- rich and creamy!
- affordability and / or biggest bang for your buck
So let’s get started!
ALI’S TOP FIVE: THE BEST HOT COCOA EVER!
Instead of going backwards, as most list-makers do, I’m going top down. Just because. But be sure you read to the end, as each item ranks for particular reasons. Some criteria may be important to you and others not as much.
Growing up in Canada, I experienced a variety of British foods not readily available in the US. Now that I live in the States, it’s not as easy to find brands like Cadbury’s. But once you’ve tried this chocolate crafter’s goodies, they may well leap to the top of your cocoa list.
There’s something special about Cadbury’s chocolate. It easily satisfies the credentials of cocoa complexity, rich creaminess, and smooth texture. And, these qualities reach far beyond mere drinking chocolate! I’ve found this true for all Cadbury’s chocolate confections.
Better still, despite being imported from the UK, this canister of powered delight won’t break your bank. It’s less expensive than premium brands.
Hence! My number one pick is affordable, creamy, and dissolves well in hot milk (which is the only way you should be making hot cocoa anyway — hot water is ewwwww!).? I haven’t tried almond milk or soy with this, so I can’t comment.
This is the most premium brand on my list. As far as price point goes, it’s more expensive. But mmmmmm, the benefits!? It’s slightly more complex in flavor than Cadbury’s, but not quite as sweet and chocolatey, in my opinion. This blend really does satisfy my hunger for dark chocolate though. There’s no fake after-taste, of course, and it’s truly rich and creamy.
Add to this the peppermint! This mix is available minus the mint, but I think it’s a great accent. Again, more complexity. Yum!! It doesn’t dissolve quite as quickly in milk as Cadbury’s does, but awfully close.
So this is my number two! It honestly could have been number one, but it’s a bit pricey. Then again, you get what you pay for (usually). It’s very good. And like all hot cocoa, you must make it with hot whole milk. Nothing else tastes as good.
I love this doubly delicious rich cocoa, blended by the coffee icon. There are larger shavings of chocolate sprinkled throughout the fine powdery mix. That’s where the double comes from, I guess. It’s rich, but not quite as sweet as Cadbury’s, while not as rich as Godiva (which still wins in complexity).
So, tada! Number three. It dissolves well, though takes a bit longer than the top two, due mostly to the larger chocolate curls.
This is my regular affordable go-to. It’s also super easy to find. You don’t even need to order it on Amazon. Just go to your local grocery store, and I bet you’ll find it … even year round!
That said, it is the cheapest in quality. The ingredients aren’t as premium and it’s a bit sweeter. The chocolate flavor isn’t as complex and full-bodied as those above, nor does it linger much. However, it is quite rich! And, when you make it with hot milk it dissolves instantly and offers a yummy milk chocolatey flavor ( even though it’s labeled as “dark chocolate” ). The taste isn’t complex enough to imitate dark cocoa, but it does well for a creamy drinking chocolate. Cadbury’s cocoa holds the superior flavor.
Easy to find, cheap to buy, and still better than its competitors in the same class (such as Nestle and even Ghirardelli) — this particular flavor of Swiss Miss hot cocoa is my everyday pick.
5. Starbuck’s handcrafted Peppermint Mocha with an extra pump of Mocha!
No link here friends, because you can’t order this on-line! And that’s partly why it’s down at number five. That, and the price. This is the most expensive. But it’s so delicious! I drink it all year!
So grab your mask and head for the nearest Starbuck’s. You’ll need to trust a barista to craft this marvel. The drink contains coffee too, so if you’re sensitive to caffeine (as I am), just order it decaffeinated. Adding an extra pump of mocha really satisfies my double chocolate sweet tooth.
If you’d like to forgo the coffee flavor, Starbuck’s also makes a delicious hot chocolate for the holiday season. You can add peppermint too. For some reason I like the bit of coffee and the less milk in the mocha. But it’s fun to experiment!
WHATEVER YOU PICK, SETTLE IN AND ENJOY IT
Making decisions — even insignificant ones — can be hard and even stressful. I’ve found this to be true for me. It feels a little silly, but I have a difficult time making small decisions. I want to make the best choice, even when there’s no way I can know if it was the best. I let my husband order for me at restaurants. It’s a relief having one less decision to make.
So, whichever hot cocoa mix (or experience) you choose today, settle it in your mind and enjoy it. Don’t waste a delightful, mindful moment, wondering if the other brand would have tasted better. This is not a decision to agonize over. It’s not a game-changer, but rather a simple opportunity to ground yourself in little sensory pleasures.
Breathe, relax. Slow down. And sip. Enjoy, and thank God for the richness He’s infused in the ordinary things of life.
Do you have a favorite hot cocoa blend? I’d love to hear about it! Please add your comments below. I am always delighted to read them. Blessings, Ali ?