In the first official Croco Family Taste Test we present the hot cocoa challenge! Using only the finest cocoa mixes from the most reputable sources (translation: it was in our cupboard or available at Safeway), we laboriously tasted and examined each candidate's offering (translation: we took a sip), to determine the best hot chocolate in the land.
- Blind tasting. Tasters do not know the brand they are tasting.
- Packets only. To avoid the extra effort and mess of measuring cocoa mix.
- Use water, not milk. If instructions provide the option of using either, default to water.
- No marshmallows
- Follow the directions exactly as printed on package.
- First-place picks earn 6 points. Second-place picks earn 4 points. Third-place picks earn 2 points.
- Point values are halved for the person who prepared the drinks (me) and did not taste blind.
Williams-Sonoma Hot Chocolate Classic : 0 points : Fifth place
This mix broke two of our rules. It only allows milk, and it does not provide packets. And because our rules included following the directions exactly, I had to warm the milk in a saucepan on the stove. These factors are kind of a deal breaker because it's unlikely my kids will heat milk on the stove and retrieve a measuring spoon for the purposes of enjoying a hot chocolate beverage. So how did this brand make it into contestant?s row? It was in the cupboard already. The taste was too bitter for the testers, and the cocoa mix is more like shaved chocolate flakes than fine cocoa dust and didn't fully dissolve in the milk (believe me, the milk was plenty hot). This brand received no votes.
Swiss Miss Simply Cocoa : 1 point : Fourth place
This mix also requires milk instead of water. Before the test, we thought we would prefer water for ease of preparation, but we wanted to include a couple milk-based cocoas for taste comparison. If the milk-based cocoas came out on top, we could have blown the lid off the eternal milk vs water debate. As it was, water-based cocoas won the day. The tasters felt this drink tasted okay but was a bit salty. Clearly I'm a sucker for Swiss Miss; this product only received 1 third place vote, from me.
Western Family Rich Cocoa : 8 points : Third place
This is a solid, perfectly acceptable hot cocoa mix. It's not the most delicious but also not offensive to taste buds in any way. It's the 'C+' of the lot, good enough to get you through the day but not blowing anybody's socks off. This cocoa received 1 second place vote, and 2 third place votes.
Swiss Miss : 15 points : Second place
This is a classic hot chocolate mix. When I think of warm chocolatey beverages, Swiss Miss is the first brand that comes to mind, and it didn't disappoint in our test. It tastes great and is creamy enough that one taster suspected it might be milk-based. It's not, it mixes with plain water. As the runner-up, it's a mix you can find in just about any store and is quite tasty. This product received 2 first place votes, 1 second place vote, and 1 third place vote.
Nestle : 18 points : First place!
The maker of chocolate chips, Crunch bars, and Raisinets also makes a delicious hot cocoa mix! Two tasters declared this the best choice hands down. It's a great tasting drink and you'd do well to keep it in your pantry for those cold or rainy days. Even my slacker children can put together an amazing cup of heated chocolate nectar with this mix. Nestle received 2 first place votes and 2 second place votes.