[A repost from August 2012]
There can't be many better feelings than that of a mug of gourmet drinking chocolate heating up your hands while you stare at the little dark brown flakes swirling around. What's even more enjoyable is realising that the chocolate you're about to consume is the same brand as was used in the finest filled chocolates I've ever tasted: Casa Luker. This chocolate maker isn't so well-known in the UK as much of their 700 tons of own-label bars are sold mainly in Colombia - where they buy around a third of the total 'fino de aroma' cacao production. Hopefully, they'll become more popular here in time.
I generally have an urge to remove myself from the high gloss, low quality world of mass-produced chocolate and get back to the true roots of chocolatl - which was inspired by reading Allen M. Young's book "The Chocolate Tree: A Natural History." Without wanting to mix my Mexican and Colombian geography, this is as close as I'm going to get to it for the foreseeable future.
Traditionally, and I mean in the supermarket sense, hot chocolate has been sold in tubular containers that have an empty, hollow sound when shaken. The freeze dried granules contain as much soul as a scrap of paper and as much flavour too. Here the 100% hot chocolate was in solid form. It weighed 250g and came in two hefty slabs contained within an elegant, engaging and informative wrapper that coincidently I found it difficult to enter. On the front it'll inform you that it's made from 100% cocoa, obviously the ratio of solids and butter isn't detailed, although that's a moot point as you'll be adding it to milk anyway. There's also no added sugar unless you add it yourself and zero cholesterol until you add the milk. But what is important, however, is the flavour.
I'm so used to baking with rubbish chocolate - I'd rather "waste" average chocolate on family and keep the good stuff for myself. When doing that, I'd use bain-marie, but there was no indication that I should use one here. Instead, we're instructed to melt slowly in a pan and then add the milk afterwards and stir. Being a busy person, the thought of this wasn't exactly what I wanted. But when I started there was something fantastically therapeutic about it. Watching the chocolate melt slowly and then stirring in the milk allowed me to remove me from the usual tribulations.
Often when I get to try gourmet hot chocolate, it's commonly flavoured such as the Chilli Con Choccy, Chai Masala, Martini, Christmas spices or Honey and Cinnamon. So it's nice to 'get back to basics' as it were. The one issue with reviewing hot chocolate of this nature is that there are so many variables: how much chocolate is used, how you melt it, the type of milk used, how much sugar is added, how hot you make it etc. The good thing is that you do get a lot of hot chocolate for your money - in fact, you'll get thirty-two goes at 'getting it right'.
On its own the chocolate is one of the most bitter I've tried, but when mixed with the skimmed milk and one teaspoon of sugar it was very mild and velvety. I would try two blocks of the chocolate and no sugar next time to give it a bit more of a brutish flavour. That's not to say it wasn't enjoyable, as it was, it's just that I'm naturally more inclined to go down the bitter route than sweet.