As I sit here drinking my morning cocoa, I must confess…
My husband says that I am a chocolate snob. I am. I love chocolate. I always have. And I will eat chocolate, anytime, anywhere, and pretty much any brand. Well, not exactly any brand because chocolate from Kazakhstan wasn’t very good. I won’t eat it again. I haven't been to Kazakhstan, my former boss traveled the world on business and every time he came back from a trip, he brought me chocolate. And just to clarify, chocolate is different depending on where it’s made. If you buy Cadbury in America, look on the package. If it says, “Manufactured in Hershey, PA” it will NOT taste like true Cadbury chocolate. It will have Hershey overtones. Trust me. Not that Hershey's isn't good. It is. But, if you want Cadbury, you don't want it to taste like Hershey's. I buy Hershey's when I want Hershey's. I don't buy Cadbury when I want Hershey's. Funny side note: I picked up Cadbury Chocolate Bunnies at Wal-Mart this past Easter. My son took one bite and said, "Mom, this doesn't taste the same." I hadn't said anything and the package looked the same. But, he knew.
European chocolate is different. Cadbury that is manufactured in England tastes better than that manufactured in America. The same goes for Kit Kat bars. The Kit Kats you buy in Europe are darker than the ones made in America. I have taste tested them both, you can trust me. I enjoy both, as well.
Moving on: I particularly love hot cocoa. It’s my indulgence. I love a cup of hot cocoa in the morning, and sometimes in the evening. Now this is where the snob part comes in: I must have Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Hot Chocolate. It’s absolutely divine, especially when you top it off with a splash of real whipping cream. I am from Northern California; I love San Francisco and Ghirardelli Square. (Scharffenberger is good too…) In California, I could buy this cocoa at the grocery store. In Idaho, for along time the only place I could find it was Cost Plus Imports. Before I discovered that Cost Plus sold it, I would have my sister get it for me as she could get it at Harmon’s in Salt Lake. As that wasn’t always an option, I was on a quest to find a different, yet suitable hot chocolate. Other than making it myself, with shaved, good chocolate, I wasn't successful. Now, my local Wal-Mart sells it, which is much more convenient.
For awhile, I had an expensive alternative. Starbucks used to sell what they called, “Chantico, a drinking chocolate.” It was like drinking a melted chocolate bar; it was similar to a true Italian hot chocolate if you’ve ever been to Italy. It was expensive and small and I could only get it if I was in Boise. But, it worked. Until they discontinued it. I haven’t been to Starbucks since. So, onto my quest.
And let me tell you, there are so many inferior hot cocoas, it’s amazing. People up here rave about Stephens and how good it is. Here’s the truth: if you put Swiss Miss in one cup and Stephens in another and didn’t tell someone which was which, they wouldn’t be able to tell. The problem with these “gourmet” cocoas is that they put too much powdered milk in the mix, thinking that it makes a “creamier” cocoa. It doesn’t. It makes a watered-down cocoa or a milked-down cocoa. The thing that is so great about Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate is that it doesn’t add powdered milk. It is only sweetened ground chocolate and cocoa and you make it with milk not water. When you add a splash of real whipping cream it is an absolutely divine taste experience. And, as I am in the process of trying to lose weight, I still won’t give it up. Ever. I have a ½ size mug and I’ve figured out how to make my cocoa and have it only equal 4 Weight Watcher points.
My boys have inherited the chocolate thing too. Their grandpa always had a stash of mini Snickers bars in his home office and they loved getting chocolate from Papa. They don’t like hot cocoa (the sacrilege), but E loves Cadbury Mint Aero bars, Hershey's Mr. Goodbar, Ghirardelli Mint Chocolate. J loves M&Ms, Nestle Crunch and Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffles. I think he's the only child in his elementary school who gets truffles in his lunch box.
We would be a true chocolate family, except for the fact that my husband can’t eat chocolate—he’s allergic. But, that means more for the boys and me!