Every day, I make hot chocolate by microwaving about 6 ounces of 2% or skim milk and then adding around 30 grams of solid chocolate. I let the chocolate melt for a minute and then mix the chocolate into a suspension with a spoon and add sugar to taste.
When evaluating new bars, I like to make at least one cup of hot chocolate, as it increases my understanding of the chocolate. In the suspension, the particles seperate, and much of the fat floats upon the surface. When I sip the hot chocolate, I can (sometimes) feel the individual particles in my mouth.
The process dilutes the sugar content. Bitter or high percentage bars require the addition of a significant quanity of sugar to round out the flavor, while less bitter bars require less or none.
I usually use Lindt 70% or 85%, as the chocolate is inexpensive and produces a strongly flavoured hot chocolate. I prefer the 70%, as I find it more flavorful and less bitter. I was suprised when I discovered that I cannot produce a similar flavor profile (to the 70% Lindt hot chocolate) by using less of the 85% chocolate with more sugar; for some reason it is always more bitter; perhaps the two bars are produced from different beans?
The Guittard 64% origin chocolates produce hot chocolate which is too sweet, even when no sugar is added. The texture is inferior to Lindt’s, as the particles feel like small rigid flakes in the mouth. Still, this chocolate is usefull when used in combination with stronger chocolates such as Lindt 70%, as it adds both flavor and sweetness to the hot chocolate.
The texure of Valrhona is similar, feeling flaky in mouth. In general, the chocolate is not overly sweet and can be used alone to produce a respectable hot chocolate.
Perhaps Valrhona particles are more flaky in shape than Lindt’s, or perhaps the particles are simply larger?
Perhaps due to excess butter, I found that Bonnat Trinidad produces a poor hot chocolate. Yet, Chocolove 77%, which also includes a hearty portion of butter, produces a fine hot chocolate on par with the Lindt.
Some of my favorite hot chocolates have been made with Pralus chocolate. The texture is pleasant and the flavor profiles often pair well with the hot milk.
The texture of hot chocolate made from Michel Cluizel chocolate is near perfect. I have made hot chocolate from Maralumi, Mangaro, Los Ancones, and Concepcion. These all produce sweet hot chocolate which tastes best without the addition of sugar. Maralumi is my favorite of these for eating, but the hot chocolate is lacking in basic chocolate flavor, yet still good. I do not care for Los Ancones plain or as hot chocolate. I enjoy Mangaro both plain and as hot chocolate, yet neither is exceptionally good. I do not care for Concepcion plain (in general, I do not like earthy chocolate), yet those who like earthy chocolate would likley enjoy Concepcion hot chocolate, as the flavors come through strong and there is adequate basic chocolate flavor.
I just made my first hot chocolate from Amedei Chauo (I recently bought a 1 kg block). The texture is excellent, and the flavor is good, yet not as strong or inspiring as I expected. The flavor improved with a small pinch of sugar. While the hot chocolate is good, other hot chocolates are better.
I look forward to trying Michel Cluizel Noir de Cacao 85% and 72% as hot chocolates, perhaps they will produce excellent hot chocolate. I will see if, like the Lindt, the 85% always produces a more bitter hot chocolate regardless of the quanity of chocolate and sugar.
Which bars or combinations of bars are your favorites for hot chocolate?