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Taste test: Dark hot chocolate mixes

Nothing says warm and cozy like a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Even if the temperatures don't reflect the holiday spirit, we always have toasty cocoa to remind us of the season. Through the years, our panelists have enjoyed a variety of blends, but none as bold as the latest offerings of dark and double chocolate. If the manufacturer listed the option of mixing the cocoa powders with water or milk on the box, we chose milk.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

(out of 100)
Starbucks Double Chocolate 63Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Sensation 59Land O'Lakes Chocolate Supreme 53
Judges'

comments
The coffeehouse cocoa mix was rich, dark and "very assertive," according to most of our judges. "It's strong ... Grownups would love this!" one judge said. Overall, judges appreciated that this mixture was not too sweet. "It's yummy," said one panelist. "This would be very tasty on a rainy day with Miles Davis music playing."The sweetness of this alpine-inspired chocolate led several judges to suggest it would be good for a children's holiday party. "It's got nice creaminess and a good froth on top," said one judge. Another said he would enjoy a mug of this while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. "This tastes delicious and silky, like John Coltrane improvising on the vinyl," said another judge. "It's a perfect cup of warm childhood memories."This cup of hot chocolate reminded one panelist of the mug he enjoyed after a day of snowshoeing in the Colorado backcountry. Another liked the pleasant, tan color of the cocoa and the thickness of the blend. "It looks dreamy and tastes smooth and comforting," said another. "Any day now with this cocoa and a roasting fire, I would not have a care in the world."
Would

they buy?
Three of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$5.69 for an 8-ounce box of eight 1-ounce packets from Target.$1.32 for a 10-ounce box of eight 1.25-ounce packets from Target.$3.98 for a 14.8-ounce can from Walmart.


Also Sampled: Archer Farms Dark Chocolate ($4.49 for an 8-ounce box of eight 1-ounce packets from Target, 43 points); Nestle Abuelita Mexican Style Hot Chocolate ($2.99 for an 8-ounce box of eight 1-ounce packets from Publix, 24 points); and Ghirardelli Double Chocolate ($3.98 for a 10.5-ounce pouch from Walmart, 35 points).

Panelists: Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; Mary Jane Park, executive director of the St. Petersburg Warehouse Arts District Association; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All drinks were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to mstark@tampabay.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/tastetest.

Serving sizeOne packetOne packetOne-fourth cup
Calories120150140
Fat/Fiber2.5g / 3g3.5g / 2g3g / 1g
Sugars/Sodium17g / 0mg18g / 170mg24g / 270mg
Carbs/Protein22g / 2g26g / 2g26g / 3g

Taste test: Dark hot chocolate mixes 12/14/15 [Last modified: Monday, December 14, 2015 10:07am]
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