The Good: Good flavor when made properly
The Bad: Expensive, Irksome packaging, Can only be properly made with milk, Shockingly high fat content
The Basics: Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate is a product I wanted to love, but found myself more and more disappointed with than I ever would have thought!
I am not a fan of the illusion of choice. I am a big believer in labeling things truthfully and letting consumers make an informed decision about the product they are considering purchasing. So, when I first came across Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate - when a tin canister of the powder was gifted to me - I was actually ecstatic. I am a big fan of (most) all things chocolate mint and Trader Joe's has a much-deserved reputation for high-quality products. Sadly, Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate is not one of those products because it offers the illusion of choice.
The packaging for the Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate indicates that the beverage may be made with water or milk - milk being the parenthetical addition to the directions. The truth, however, is that the Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate must be prepared with milk in order to get any seriously decent results. Whenever I get anything new, in terms of food and drink, I play culinary mad scientist and I begin by making up the product with scientific precision to the directions. In the case of the Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate, I tried three times to make the beverage with water, but each time I created a drink that was chunky, separated fast, and was a poor representation of the flavors. I tried again with milk and voila! Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate was absolutely delicious. The truth, however, is that there is no real choice in preparing the Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate: if one wants something other than a messy disappointment, they must make it with milk.
The Peppermint Hot Chocolate mix is part of the Trader Joe's premium Hot Chocolate line. The mix comes in an 8 oz. sealed foil package that is stuffed into a decorative tin that makes it a complete pain to try to get the powder out. The tin is cute, but the mix is fairly inaccessible from the tin given the relative size of the tin and the size of the packet that houses the actual hot chocolate mix.
As one might expect, the Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate is not an instant beverage; it is a powder that must be reconstituted into the promised hot chocolate.
Ease Of Preparation
The Peppermint Hot Chocolate mix is not all that simple to make. The tin that the packet comes in is cute, but the foil packet for the actual cocoa mix is stiff and quite a bit larger than the actual tin. And it's a tremendous pain to open. So, there's usually some loss of product simply by trying to open the packet of cocoa after extracting it from the tin. To get around this, I recommend using scissors to actually cut the foil packet, as opposed to trying to find a way to tear it open. Then, when done with the cocoa, fold the packet up so shoving it back into the tin does not cause it to disperse cocoa powder like a fungus releasing spores.
Once one has extracted the foil packet, measure out three Tablespoons of the powder into a mug that is at least eight ounces large. Then, heat up (at least) 3/4 cup of milk (or, if one is looking for a crappy, chunky, beverage, water) to just below boiling. Pour the heated fluid into the mug with the powder and stir vigorously. If you used milk, the drink will become a rich, creamy brown fluid. If you used water, you'll end up with a mostly brown beverage that will inevitably have some chunks still in it (or fused to the bottom of the mug).
Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate smells divine when it is properly prepared. The aroma of chocolate enters the nose immediately after the scent of peppermint invites the airway to open up and breathe in the scent. Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate smells absolutely amazing!
In the mouth, the Trader Joe's Peppermint Cocoa is delightfully minty. Trader Joe's did not skimp on the peppermint flavor and the mint flavor dominates with a cool, sweet flavor. The chocolate flavor in the Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate is not to be outdone, though and the dry, rich chocolate flavor asserts itself as soon as the peppermint flavoring allows. The result is a beverage that actually manages to embody well both promised flavors!
The Peppermint Hot Chocolate has a slightly sweet aftertaste that does not endure long in the mouth at all.
Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate is a Hot Chocolate mix and therefore not the most nutritious things ever, though the Peppermint flavor could be far less nutritious than it is. The Peppermint Hot Chocolate has a few ingredients that cannot be easily identified, which is nice. The primary ingredients are bittersweet chocolate, cane sugar, and coconut oil. It is not vegan compliant as a result of the milk powder in the mix. There is no actual mint in the ingredient list.
What is not a mystery is how high this product is in sugars. In each serving of Peppermint Hot Chocolate, there are 140 calories, sixty of which are from fat! There are a whopping five grams (25% RDA!) of saturated fat, so while one might be tempted to curl up and enjoy this while resting, they are likely to pay for it later on! There is no cholesterol (2 mg) and only 3% of one's recommended daily allowance of sodium out of a single serving of this beverage! There is a negligible amount of protein, but not enough to live off this. In other words, this product is not a nutritious food product.
This product contains milk, soy and coconut. Because there are no notations on it, one must assume it is not Kosher or gluten-free.
So long as one leaves the Peppermint Hot Chocolate powder in its packet, in its tin canister, it ought to stay usable. One assumes it will last quite a while and dissolve appropriately when one attempts to use it. The tin I received a few days ago had an expiration date of September 12, 2019, so it's not a bad product to stock up on (if one likes it!).
Cleanup is very easy. If the product spills while dumping it into the mug, simply wipe it up or brush it up with a dry or damp cloth. If it has already been reconstituted with water or milk into hot chocolate, simply wipe it up. Light fabrics are likely to stain if this gets on them, in which case consult your fabric care guide to clean it up.
Trader Joe's Peppermint Hot Chocolate is a good idea that is tremendously expensive, fairly messy, obscenely fatty, but - when made properly with milk - yields a pretty fantastic result!
For other hot chocolate reviews, please check out:
Stephen’s Gourmet Chocolate Mint Truffle Hot Cocoa
Land O'Lakes S'mores Hot Cocoa
Swiss Miss Mint Premium Cocoa
For other beverage reviews, please visit my Food Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.