Ah yes, ’tis the season for fancy, dressed up gifts in supermarkets, and Trader Joe’s is positively rising to the occasion. Among their roasted nut oils and artisan mustard sets you might just find the twee, decorative tin of Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate – Inspired By European Tradition.
Trader Joe’s is going all out to appear fancy with this one, to the point of actually putting “European” in the title, but what they really mean by “sipping chocolate” is powdered hot chocolate mix. Pretensions, however, may be excused in this case. Trader Joe’s really does provide a richer, more chocolaty hot chocolate that puts generic hot chocolate mixes to shame.
Hot chocolate has come a long way since the ancient Mayans first ground cocoa beans into paste and mixed it with cold water, cornmeal and chili peppers. In fact, the history of drinking chocolate stretches so far back that it precedes the notion of the chocolate bar by 1,400 years or so. In fact, for centuries the word “chocolate” simply meant hot chocolate. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that enterprising food scientists figured out a different way to get the chocolate out of the cocoa bean other than smashing it up and mixing it with water. In the intervening 1.5 millenniums hot chocolate, not unlike hard cider, rained supreme.
It wasn’t until the concept of hot chocolate sauntered its way into Western Europe in the 17th century that people finally struck on the notion of adding sugar to the previously bitter and unpalatable hot chocolate mix. This ushered in the age of foppish aristocrats sitting around, sipping rich hot chocolate in “chocolate houses” from dainty cups. It is to this “European tradition” that Trader Joe’s sipping chocolate appeals.
It might just be a powered cocoa mix, but this sipping chocolate is so rich and intense that you’re only supposed to make up a 1/3 cup of it at a time. Trader Joe’s alleges that you’ll experience a “velvety richness”, and actually manage to deliver on the promise.
Follow the instructions on the tin (1/3 cup milk and 3 tablespoons chocolate mix) and you’ll find yourself with a sweet cup of hot chocolate that absolutely blows Swiss Miss away. This is a hot chocolate with body – you really will want to limit yourself to tiny sips as the thick, deep chocolate flavor (not to mention the concentrated sweetness) washes over you.
For those who are not necessarily into daintily sipping hot chocolate from wee cups, TJ’s also includes the recipe for a more dilute version (2/3 cup milk or water). This makes for a good hot chocolate as well – certainly better than any given cup of Nesquick or Swiss Miss – just without the velvety richness.
Would I Recommend It: Yes, this is a sumptuous hot chocolate.
Would I Buy It Again: Sure, I enjoy a good cup of hot chocolate.
Final Synopsis: Hot chocolate on steroids.