Hot chocolate love unleashed

November 24th, 2011 | Posted by greg in Daily life...

You might have seen this article on my column for Asia Tatler Dining – edited here with more photos of the oozing hot chocolate!

The warm and humid South American climate undeniably explains why Mayans, historical precursor of chocolate beverage, were drinking it cold and spicy. It’s only when the Spanish conquistador brought it back to Europe that the precious cocoa beans transformed in chocolate drink, was mixed with sugar and milk. It was a beverage for the upper class as all of those ingredients were rare and expensive. My friends Heidi and Fernando, both of Latin American origin, commented that Latin South-American food has a complex and often misunderstood history – far from being an expert in the topic, I am sure both of them will soon relate the topic on their blogs!

As it was drunk without sugar and mixed in water, the taste and feel was kind of bitter and dry; pretty much in line with the coffee concept. And when you think about it, it makes perfect sense, yet, over the years, our society got used to that super sweet and chemical hot chocolate powder worryingly transformed by giant food companies. I randomly picked a very popular brand of chocolate drink powder and looked at the ingredients, and as you might be aware, ingredients are listed from the larger to the smaller in terms of quantity: Sugar, corn syrup solids, hydrogenated vegetable oil (may contain coconut, palm kernel and/or soybean oil), modified milk ingredients, cocoa, cellulose gum, salt, dipotassium phosphate, silicon dioxide, artificial flavours, mono- and diglycerides, guar gum, sodium aluminum silicate.

Of course, if you happen to read (and care about) what’s in your hot chocolate you might be skeptical to drink it again.

Hydrogenated oil, modified milk, artificial flavours, glass making crystals and the controversial dipotassium phosphate are all part of the spooky experience. It really gives me shivers thinking about it; whatever happened to real food!

To try and tie back with a more traditional way of drinking chocolate, I have developed two new hot chocolate drinks for our Lobby Lounge afternoons. The first version is a cup of absolutely oozing hot drink made with dark chocolate, milk chocolate, Madagascar vanilla bean, sea salt and cinnamon – all real ingredients! That will satisfy any of your chocolate cravings. This version would be for people who want a comforting cup of hot chocolate during the cold winter afternoons.

The second one is the real deal.

We’ve packed a total of 78% cocoa content into a dry and bitter chocolate drink with a pinch of indispensable sea salt. Quite a number of people I’ve met are reluctant to drink hot chocolate, because it’s filling, heavy and sweet. And the expression on the face of people trying this 78% drink for the first time is like they are biting into aluminum foil. Then, they take a second sip and things change… it actually becomes enjoyable.

The thought of being stuffed by a single cup of hot chocolate is not a pleasant one, but the thought of finishing a whole cup of hot chocolate without going “Oh wow! No dinner for me tonight!” is better. And with that particular 78% hot chocolate, it does just that. The fact that fat and sugar levels are very low makes it all more enjoyable.

To add a gourmand touch to our chocolate drinks, we’re serving Madagascar vanilla bean whipped cream, crunchy chocolate pearls and for the fruity and tangy balance we’ve made delicious blackcurrant marshmallows – not made with chemical flavoring, but with real fruits!

The chinaware and setup we chose has something of classic, old fashioned and hearty. Personally, it makes me comfortable just to look at the hot chocolate pot with the carved wooden handle, it makes me feel like home.

Whether you’re craving for chocolate or in need of a comforting afternoon, remember, there are only a few problems that chocolate can’t solve!

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7 Responses

  • Colette says:

    wow, I’m not a big fan of overly bitter food…but wouldn’t mind a cup of that 78% cocoa hot chocolate! (or the other one, for that matter!). I also HATE those prepared drinks they dare name chocolate!Here in Spain, where hot thick chocolate and “churros” are a tradition…those cloyingly sweet, overly thickened, artificially flavoured preparations are abundant (sadly even in traditional “chocolaterias” chocolate drink houses). It’d be nice to find alternatives!Sadly, so far, only at home!

    • Hola Colette! :)
      You’re right – now that you mention it, I love churros and hot chocolate! We also have it here sometimes on our menu. Sad to hear about all these places where the tradition faded away. It’s the same situation with bread – real bread faded away and this insipid bread took its place. Luckily now, many people are trying to go back to the real values, either for chocolate or bread! Thank you for your lovely comments! :)

  • Chef, can I have the recipe to make those blackcurrant marshmallows? Please? :D

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  • Jessica says:

    Hi chef, I love your work and happened to stumble across this article dated a while back. I was wondering if it would be possible to have a copy of the blackcurrant marshmallow recipe to try as well?
    I’ve been making egg-free marshmallows but haven’t been very successful.. They seem to ‘weep’ and I’m suspecting this has something to do with the humid weather. Is there any way I can combat the issue? Should I increase the ratio of glucose syrup vs. granulated sugar or decrease amount of water?
    Thank you for your guidance in advance! :)

    • Hi Jessica! :) Thanks for your comments!
      The marshmallows I do are egg based as I find their texture more pleasant than just gelatin based. For the gelatin based, you will need to whip it for a very long time and the temperature of the cooked sugar needs to be precise. Then of course, sugar attracts water naturally and thus it will be highly subject to humidity. I’ve sent you an email! ;)

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