Is drinking chocolate the same as hot chocolate? A question we often get due to the different descriptions on product packages.
The answer? I can only define this based on what the question really means. If you are asking because you want to enjoy a hot drink of chocolate then yes, it’s a hot chocolate. However if you are asking because you buy hot chocolate that is cocoa powder and that is what your are looking for, then no. They are not the same.
I’m going to break this down the way I see it, based on two criteria. Ingredients and Flavour.
The first ingredient in Drinking Chocolate is cacao. Described as cacao, cocoa beans or cocoa nibs. The 2nd is cane sugar and final ingredient (if used) is cocoa butter. Basically the same ingredients you will find in craft bars. The cacao beans are often single origin and the origin is included on the packaging.
The first ingredient of Hot Chocolate or Hot Cocoa is sugar, after which it could include cocoa powder, then maybe cocoa mass, milk powder of some sort (even if it’s described as a Dark Hot Chocolate ) and a slew of other ingredients. Here’s the ingredient list in one of Canada’s best selling Hot Chocolate brands.
Ingredients: Sugars (sugar, glucose solids, lactose), Modified milk ingredients, Cocoa*, Hydrogenated vegetable oil (coconut and/or palm kernel and/or soybean), Carrageenan, Salt, Potassium chloride, Dipotassium phosphate, Mono- and diglycerides, Silcon dioxide, DATEM, Natural Flavour. *Rainforest Alliance Certified
And here’s the ingredients for a well know “premium” brand that’s sells bars, truffles and other chocolate confections as well as their Hot Chocolate.
Ingredients: Sugar, Cocoa powder, Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter, Sunflower Lecithin, Flavour, Salt.
The differences are obvious.
Now onto a discussion around cocoa powder. Some craft chocolate makers will use cocoa powder in their Hot Cocoa, however not all cocoa powder is created equal. Natural cocoa powder in used in craft chocolate, made from single origin chocolate, which is not the case with mass produced powder. This natural cocoa powder is less refined, and is not produced with an alkalizing agent, thus retaining more of the natural flavours, and is more nutrient rich than processed powders. This will be highlighted on the packaging of Hot Cocoa or Drinking Chocolate, such as Raaka’s Winter Spice Hot Chocolate and McGuire’s Hot Cocoa.
Drinking Chocolate can simply be melted and enjoyed. With this option a little goes a long way! A size similar to a cup of espresso is recommended. With this method you get the rich, full flavour of a single origin cup of chocolate. Choose from Belize, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Dominican or Madagascar origins and enjoy them the way you do a single origin bar…only in a warm liquid! You can also choose a flavoured Drinking Chocolate, such as warm spices, mint, coffee or hot spices. Imagine a cup of hot drinking chocolate with your favourite biscuit at 4:00 in the afternoon. Dreamy.
Options also include adding milk, a milk alternative, or water. Directions are on all the packages and ratio is about 2 tablespoons to 1 cup of liquid when mixing. You can enjoy a rich thick velvety drink with a higher ratio of drinking chocolate to liquid, or a something a little lighter in chocolate. The possibilities are endless.
On the other hand Hot Chocolate must be mixed to be consumed. Canada’s number 1 brand recommends a hot water mix. The “premium” brand mentioned recommends milk, with the option enjoying a hot or cold drink. Not to be picky, but I thought we were talking about hot drinks. The flavour of either of these drinks will be sweet, as sugar is the first ingredient and likely more so if you choose a flavoured version of Hot Chocolate. Personally, I have always had trouble getting the powder to mix well with hot water. The mix seems to lump together, making it challenging to whisk it into the drink, but perhaps that just my problem!
So, these are some of the differences between Drinking Chocolate and Hot Chocolate and perhaps explains why craft makers want to have a different descriptive name for their version of a hot drink of chocolate. Kind of like chocolate bars versus candy bars…but that’s another topic altogether!