Well I knew there was an annual Chocolate Week but I didn't know until recently that there was also a Hot Chocolate Week. And I have to admit that I got a lot less excited about Hot Chocolate than the "cold" variety. I love almost all chocolate - milk chocolate, white chocolate, fruit and nut chocolate, chocolate orange, chocolate truffles, chocolate liqueurs, even chocolate-chip cookies or chocolate cake, you name it, if it's related to a cocoa bean, I'll love it ... but hot chocolate never really tastes like chocolate to me.
Then these strange-looking hot chocolate drinks arrived, dressed up in recognisable chocolate-branded packaging and I suddenly did feel excited about hot chocolate. If Mars, Galaxy and Maltesers are willing to lend their brand credibility to hot chocolate drinks, they must taste as good as the "real" stuff or they wouldn't take the risk. And the little added extras like marshmallows and mini-Maltesers (as toppings or side nibbles) look as if you'll end up with something as luxurious and decadent as you'd only ever manage to find in a posh coffee-shop, nothing like the watery, bland supposedly-chocolately drink you can normally rustle up with a sachet of hot chocolate mix in your kitchen.
Before I even got close to taste-testing, I was blown away by the packaging. It's ready-mixed hot chocolate, in a special microwaveable cup that is insulated to keep your drink warm and save you from burning your hands. You just have to peel off the foil lid, zap it in the microwave for 90 seconds and give it a quick stir ... then have the dilemma of whether you want to float your extra choccie treats on the top or keep them on the side for the end !
Speaking of dilemmas, it was really hard to choose which one to taste first because they all sound absolutely divine. "GALAXY Creamy Hot Chocolate is real GALAXY chocolate lovingly melted into milk with an indulgent dash of cream. Sprinkle on the marshmallows to create a hot chocolate drink that really is out of this world." Yummm ! Galaxy is my all-time favourite chocolate because it's so creamy and smooth so imagining that with extra cream and marshmallows already had me salivating. Next up is MALTESERS Malted Hot Chocolate with melting Maltesers to float on top. With only 3% fat, this is the lightest option but still seems totally indulgent and decadent. MOMENT DU CHOCOLAT Gourmet Hot Chocolate is made with 30% real Belgian milk chocolate melted into milk and comes with marshmallows to float on top, and also comes in a dark chocolate variety with continental wafers. Last but not least, there is Melted MARS Hot Chocolate : "The unmistakable flavour of real MARS chocolate and caramel is melted into milk and comes with two dunkable MARS miniatures". Oh my goodness, where to begin ?!
Well, the answer is all of them - although not at the same time because they are very sweet so you'd end up feeling sick ! Not to mention the calories. As an example, the Mars one contains 103 calories per 100ml plus an additional 497 calories per 100g for the marshmallow topping. The "light" option - Maltesers - contains 113 calories per 100ml and 323 calories per 100g for the topping. So wouldn't that make Mars the lighter option ??? Whatever - this isn't diet food, but if you want a warm, delicious treat in a cup, this is ideal.
One of the things I hate about making hot chocolate from a sachet is that the last bit in the bottom of the mug tastes all yucky and powdery because it hasn't totally dissolved. Plus the sticky gunky residue sets like glue in the mug and doesn't come out properly when you put it through the dishwasher. Well, firstly, these drinks are ready-mixed so there's no problem with powder and secondly, there's no washing-up at all because you just throw the cup away at the end. It may not be ideal for the environment but it is handy if you want a drink on the go or at work.
The girls loved all of them, especially the ones with marshmallows and mini-Maltesers to float, as much for the fun of adding the toppings as for the taste, so it's a great way to warm them up when they get in from school. They're also ideal as a totally over-the-top treat in front of the telly when the kids are in bed - and because they only take 30 seconds, you have time to make one during the commercial break and get back before your programme's started again !
RRP : £1.79
star rating : 4.5/5
For more information, see http://www.drinkmars.com/gourmet_hot_chocolate/