So the other night, I was playing one of my online games with a friend and we were chatting about all kinds of random shit while we farmed an instance – you know, as you do. Somehow we started talking about holiday drinks, specifically hot chocolates, and I began telling her all about the (probably slightly abnormal amount of) hot cocoas that I’d bought from World Market. I believe my diatribe included the phrase “I just have a lot of feelings about hot cocoas” – which, you know what? Yes. Yes, I do. So now I’m going to write them down here and inflict them on all of you as well!
Seriously, though. I do have, as of this writing, about six different types of hot cocoas in my cupboard. I’m not even including the Salted Caramel stuff that isn’t actually mine but looks oh-so-tempting whenever I go to heat up some chocolate Cashew milk as a base for my nightly cocoa. I’m also not including all the various types of coffee mixes that I have that sometimes include mocha/chocolate (yeah, this is on top of my legit coffee stash) – sheesh, somewhere my dentist is cringing, right?
Today I’m going to review five hot chocolates that I purchased during World Market’s holiday hot cocoa sale. Yes, they have sales just for hot chocolate. Yes, I am the precise audience that such promotions are meant to entice. What can I say – on cold days, there’s seriously little that I love more than a nice, warm mug of hot cocoa, topped with whipped cream and some sprinkles or spices.
So let’s get started, shall we?
World Market Hot Cocoas – S’Mores, Gingerbread and Peppermint Variety Pack
I actually can’t find this precise variety pack any longer; it looks like they’ve replaced it with a new version that swaps the Gingerbread for a White Chocolate Eggnog (which actually sounds amazing imo, I’m kind of salty that I didn’t get that one since I’ve been going crazy for homemade Eggnog Lattes this winter). Well, whatever, I’m still going to review the three that I tried!
This was tied with the Peppermint for my favorite of the trio. It has a nice gingerbread cookie spice aspect, not super strong, but still enough to make its presence known and differentiate it from a normal hot chocolate mix. The base is definitely a lighter/milk chocolate, rather than a dark chocolate. I’m a big fan of chocolate-covered soft gingerbread (also known as lebkuchen) so it’s really no surprise that I liked this – the flavor profile is quite similar, albeit more subtle.
I’d really love if they did an actual attempt at a flavor for their hot cocoa next year, with a darker chocolate and significantly stronger ginger and spice notes. I would 100% buy that and top it with whipped cream and candy sprinkles to try and replicate these specific cookies (which I’ve had this year already and loved) in yummy warm drink form!
Honestly, by now it should be pretty hard to mess up mint cocoa. When it’s done right, it’s one of my favorite flavor combinations in the world – I’ve purchased so many mint chocolate lip balms, believe that! This is a milkier chocolate base once again, so it’s a sweeter mint cocoa as opposed to the slightly bitter dark chocolate/peppermint cocoas sold by other brands. I personally enjoy both variants, it just depends on what I’m in the mood for on any given night! For a lighter chocolate, this cocoa is definitely a good choice.
Hmm. Well, I tend to have the same issue with almost every “S’Mores” flavored product that I’ve had… they just never really properly evoke a s’more to me! It’s not that they taste bad, but you know – I expect some notes of graham, some notes of chocolate, and most importantly, some roasted marshmallow flavor. This cocoa just tastes like milk chocolate with a slightly weird sweet aspect. I’d call it plastic-y, but that’s not even quite right. I guess if you were to imagine the difference between a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar and, say, a Ghirardelli Chocolate Bar, you might kind of get the note I’m going for. There’s a weird synthetic taste that cheap milk chocolate bars can have, and it’s present here. I don’t get any graham or marshmallow.
Unfortunately, this one was a miss for me. I wouldn’t repurchase it – it’s too sweet and just… weird.
I’ll admit it: a big selling point for this one was the adorable milk-jug packaging. I don’t know why, but I’ve always found old-style glass milk jugs to be extremely aesthetically pleasing. So when I stumbled onto this brand, I couldn’t resist! I selected the maple variety because it sounded interesting; I’ve had maple fudge and chocolate maple bismarck doughnuts before and liked them, so I figured this would likely be to my tastes as well.
This is one of those cocoas that blends really smoothly – if you’ve ever tried a lot of hot cocoa mixes, you probably understand what I mean by that. Some mixes simply don’t dissolve well, even when the milk/water is hot enough – you get weird, annoying chunks or bits that just refuse to blend. It’s not really appetizing, in my opinion. This brand, however, dissolves very easily and blends well – I don’t even get much “cocoa debris” at the bottom of my mug when I’ve finished drinking (another common problem caused by cocoas not dissolving well enough). So kudos to Silly Cow Farms for that!
As for the taste, I really like it! I’ve found myself reaching for this one the most so far, actually. The maple is strong, but it’s translating less as sickly-sweet maple syrup and more of a nutty honey. The chocolate is a lighter milk chocolate, definitely present but not warring with the maple at all.
All in all, I really like this one and definitely plan on trying more from this brand. Some Google-fu reveals that they have an astonishing range of seasonal drink mixes – from Gingerbread Nog to Pumpkin Spice Cocoa to “Special Truffle” cocoa in a cutesy milkcan, holy cow (yes, I’m going there) I want to try all of these flavors :L
Mason County Bourbon Cocoa Mix
Okay, I actually can’t find the listing for this on the World Market site (I did find that apparently this brand also has Bacon Hot Cocoa, which… of course that exists), nor can I find the brand’s website, but I definitely purchased this at World Market in-store. Weird.
It’s sort of funny: I really dislike straight Bourbon – to be frank, whiskey in general tastes like how horse stables smell. In other words, no thanks. Yet somehow, I love it when used in cooking. Who doesn’t love bourbon chicken or whiskey candied nuts, right? So I picked this up assuming it would be the same kind of deal: chocolatey with that velvety, deep richness that bourbon can add to sweets.
Verdict: it’s extremely subtle. This is, by and large, a solid milk cocoa mix, with just the slightest hint of something other added in the mix. So if you’re not sure that you’d like bourbon in your hot chocolate, don’t worry – you really don’t taste much of it here, to be frank. It’s definitely pleasant, a good base cocoa with a slight buttery richness, but there’s definitely no noticeable booziness, at least not that I’m picking out.
If this seems like I dislike it, that’s not the case at all! I actually quite enjoy it, it’s just not what I was expecting, really. So if my description sounds good to you and you happen to stumble on this apparently elusive brand, by all means, pick it up and you’ll probably enjoy it. Just don’t expect much bourbon flavor!
They do get points for the packaging – it’s not quite as cute as the Silly Cow cocoa (milk jars are cuter than mason jars, pinterest trends be damned) but it is fun and fits the slightly country/moonshine visual feel they were going for with the labeling.
…I mentioned that I had lots of thoughts about hot chocolate, right? You see what I mean? Seriously, I love hot cocoas so much, and when you blend it with my enjoyment of trying new and interesting flavors… well, I can write a lot more than is probably normal about the results!
I hope that you enjoyed my little holiday hot cocoa review – I might do a follow-up post this week about cute, unique mugs for those to pair with christmas cocoas for those of you looking for last-minute gift sets that have a more personal touch than pre-packaged sets.
Until then, think of me when you have your next sip of hot chocolate :3
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