Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sipping Sundays - Ginger Bread Hot Chocolate by Jean Philippe Patisserie

So another of my chocolate finds in Las Vegas, particularly at Jean-Philippe Patisserie, was a small range of hot chocolate mixes.  I believe there was a "spiced" hot chocolate mix, and possibly an orange-flavoured one as well, but I chose the Ginger Bread, which was simply spiced with ginger, cinnamon and cloves. 

I whipped up some cream and topped it with a dollop (or three) of really soft-whipped cream.  I made sure to stop the mixer when the whipped cream was very soft, instead of stiff, because when it is soft and used to top hot chocolate, you get a nice foamy layer of cream on top of the hot chocolate.  With stiff-whipped cream, you have to spoon it all off and just eat the cream first before you can drink the hot chocolate, or wait a longer time for it to melt, but then the cold cream cools down your hot chocolate too quickly while you wait.

I can only describe the ginger bread flavour of this hot chocolate as "subtle".  The ginger and cloves are definitely identifiable while drinking it, but it is not overwhelming and mixes with the chocolate beautifully.  Unlike the strong and sweet flavour of a flavour syrup that would be added to your hot chocolate in a cafe, this ginger bread hot chocolate is bitter, rich, warm and mild all at the same time.  Once again, Jean Philippe has given me a true French experience, reminding me of the bitter-rich hot chocolates that I tasted when I spent a year studying in Rennes.

What I also like about this hot chocolate is that it is made from natural ingredients and from high quality solid chocolate that has been ground up, rather than from cocoa powder (see below for the ingredients list).  The ingredients are simple and nothing is 'hydrogenated' or 'modified'.  One of the reasons I bought it though, was because it had whole milk powder in it, so I thought it could be mixed with hot water.  I am always on the lookout for an instant hot chocolate that is natural, and usually the addition of milk powder means that you can simply add the powdered hot chocolate to boiling water, with no need for heating milk (great for using at the office). However, I tried the Jean Philippe hot chocolate with hot water and it tasted a bit diluted. After adding a dash of half and half cream, it was better, although not as good as when made with real milk. 

The only downside, which can't really be helped, is that the chocolate that is ground does not mix perfectly into your hot milk.  There are tiny chocolate bits floating around in the hot chocolate, even when made with boiling water.  However, that is normal when you make hot chocolate from real solid chocolate.  Because the chocolate is not melted slowly and is not usually in temper when you make the hot chocolate, the chocolate particles just can't break down fully.  It still tastes great, but just does not look smooth (see the picture on the right to see what I mean - you'll see the particles left on the side of my mug). But like I said, it still tastes wonderful, so who cares about a few flecks of chocolate left behind?

You can buy one type of Jean Philippe hot chocolate online at: although there are no flavour options available, the ingredients are different, and the cost is higher than what I paid in the patisserie in the Bellagio in Las Vegas ($18 for 616g/22oz). Otherwise, when you are next in Las Vegas, be sure to check out the Jean Philippe Patisserie for this awesome hot chocolate.  It would make a great gift for someone who likes rich hot chocolate or dark chocolate.

Ingredients and other package details:
Ginger Bread Hot Chocolate, 616g (22oz)
Jean Philippe Patisserie
Bellagio, Las Vegas
Ingredients: Chocolate (cocoa nibs, cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla, lecithin), whole milk powder, cornstarch, ginger, cinnamon, cloves. May contain traces of nuts.

For more information & reviews of products by Jean Philippe Patisserie, click here.

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