Saturday, 19 March 2011

Hot Chocolate and More

When asked if I was interested in reviewing any of the new products from Beyond the Bean I jumped at the chance; I had really liked the Byron Bay cookies that I reviewed last year. I had expressed interest in reviewing biscuits. What arrived, was a huge parcel that the lovely Paul had thoughtfully put together. Not only did I get the biscuits, but hot chocolate powder complete with scoop and two mugs. In addition Paul had included a couple of bottles of Sweetbird syrups, toffee and hazelnut, as well as a couple of pumps to go with them - how cool was that.

Like the Butterburst biscuits, I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, there seemed to be unnecessary ingredients in the Zuma hot chocolate. Admittedly, I am a bit of a purist and prefer my food to be as natural and as unprocessed as possible, but I was a little taken aback to find dextrose, flavouring and salt in addition to sugar and cocoa. Flavouring is such a ubiquitous and meaningless term as it tells you precisely nothing, other than that something unspecified has been added. The cocoa powder was fat reduced, so maybe that's why extra flavouring was felt to be needed. I had naively assumed hot chocolate would contain, cocoa powder, sugar and nothing else. When we tried a cup, I have to say neither of us were that impressed by the taste either - it was way too sweet and also had a bit of a weird flavour.

The mugs were lovely; with my penchant for warm colours, I was delighted by the bright orange background and the yellow writing. Hot chocolate associated words adorned the mugs, conjuring up images of warmth and cosiness. These are perfect for hot chocolate and I've been using them regularly ever since.

Strangely, I was less worried about the syrups, because I sort of expected there to be a long list of ingredients I'd be less than happy with. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find there were no artificial preservatives in these Sweetbird syrups and they are also the only ones approved by the Vegetarian Society. In fact there was nothing there I had an issue with except the term "aromas" - what does that mean? It does say on the label that there are no artificial flavours, so maybe I'm being unduly suspicious. I've seen these syrups or something similar in cafes and they appear to be quite popular, but I had never tried them until now. I had some Hazelnut in a hot chocolate - all I can say is, it didn't do it for me. I can see them being more successfully used in cake toppings and fillings and I will be doing so. In fact, the toffee syrup I've already used to good effect in this toffee yogurt cake.

13 comments:

  1. I like the sound of those syrups, they would be lovely in hot chocolate.

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  2. I love that you've been totally honest here. For me hot chocolate is such a special drink I like to make it by melting chocolate and adding milk. Naughty but so lovely. I've also always been suspicious of those syrups. Great post x

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  3. Hot chocolate looks warm and comforting..thanks for the recipe!

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  4. Those syrups sound so good & tempting to me too!

    MMMMMM,...Thanks for sharing with us!

    Kisses! :)

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  5. I no fan of those instant hot chocolate drinks, I like my hot chocolate to be made of dark choc+milk+sugar or cocoa powder+milk+sugar. Oh, and I nice dollop of whipped cream isn't out of place either. So can't blame you for not being impressed with the hot choc. I actually suspect one of my SILs to use instant hot choc in her chocolate cakes, as it doesn't taste much chocolate of them and I keep struggling to figure out what kind of cake I'm actually eating.

    The syrups sounds yummy.

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  6. I've found that whenever foods are converted to low fat, a whole lot of strangeness needs to be added to them to then make them taste similar to the original. Nice cups, though, and it's good that you've found a use for the syrups.

    PS. thanks for always being such an objective reviewer, I always know we can completely trust your opinion!

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  7. I like to use chocolate cocoa powder in banana smoothies - but I love my icy cold bevvies. Great review. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Another great review Choclette. I'm really interested in the syrups and so far as syrups go they seem to tick all the boxes.

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  9. That sounds like a fabulous bunch of goodies you've been sent! Pity the hot chocolate wasn't up to much, as it does look very comforting in the pic!

    I had a "gingerbread latte" in my work's canteen once... never again! Although I have heard the vanilla syrup is gorgeous. Glad to see you can still get use out of them though!

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  10. Jac - I know someone at work who really likes ameretto syrup in her coffee.

    Dom - thanks. I usually make hot chocolate in exactly the same way as you do, although I often add a some cinnamon too.

    Suman - hot chocolate can be a lovely drink, especially when the weather is cold and wet.

    Sophie - you're welcome.

    LF - I'm with you, chocolate and milk makes the best hot chocolate, but I think I'd prefer mine without additional sugar. Cream sounds good.

    Celia - thank you. I do try to only review things I think I'll like, but I don't always know what I'm getting.

    Monica - thank you.

    Chele - if you're going to use ready made syrups, I think these are good ones.

    Catherine - hot chocolate is always comforting, just some more than others ;-)

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  11. fantastic review an that hot chocolate does look yummy :)

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  12. Great review, nice size attractive mug and the chocolate looks yummy, think syrup would perhaps be too sweet but now and again would be great

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  13. The caramel syrup is gorgeous in milky coffee !

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