Sir Hans Sloane is probably my favourite chocolate company that we’ve never talked about on Chocablog (yes, there are still plenty of those!). The company is named after the 17th century physician who is credited with ‘inventing’ milk-based drinking chocolate while on a trip to Jamaica. Sloane brought the recipe back to England, where it was initially sold as a medicine, before being marketed as a chocolate drink by Cadbury in the 19th century.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of working with Sir Hans Sloane’s chocolatier and owner Bill McCarrick as part of the organising committee for The Academy of Chocolate Awards, so I’ve got to know Bill and his chocolates quite well. But I can’t think of a better subject of our first review than a drinking chocolate.
The packaging for all Sir Hans Sloane’s products follows the same simple and elegant red and white theme. Another sign of a quality product is that the label on the front not only tells me the cocoa solids percentage (55%), but also the conche time (72 hours). I wish all chocolate labeling was so clear.
Inside, the 300g tin is full of these interesting looking ‘beads’ – glossy, irregular shaped pieces of dark chocolate. Of course, being nothing more than pure dark chocolate means they’re quite versatile and you don’t have to limit yourself to making hot chocolate with them. You can sprinkle them on ice cream, or simply eat them from the tin. Which is, of course, what I did.
As you might expect, at 55% cocoa solids, the chocolate is sweet, but that just makes them that little bit more addictive. Don’t go expecting complex flavours, they just make a sweet, chocolatey snack. Eaten on their own, they might be a touch too sweet, but of course they’re really designed to be consumed as a drink.
The first thing you notice when you add the beads to hot milk is that they do take a little while to dissolve. The directions tell you to stir vigorously, and eventually the chocolate disappeared into the milk.
It’s here that you can appreciate why the beads need to be sweeter than you might expect. That little bit of extra sugar in the chocolate produces a very enjoyable, smooth and chocolatey drink. It’s really rather nice, and being made with real chocolate, there’s none of those sticky globules of powder left floating on the surface like you get with some some hot chocolates.
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of hot chocolate, but I know that if I bought this, it would quickly get used up in drinks, desserts and snacking, purely because of the versatility of the beads. Recommended.