The Good: Great, distinctive taste, Easy to prepare
The Bad: Environmental impact of packaging
The Basics: Lovers of Dark Chocolate will have finally found their drink with Land O' Lakes' Classic Dark hot cocoa; I know I have!
One of these days, Land O' Lakes will get it perfect. Now, for the first time ever, I know when that will be. Land O' Lakes will have a perfect product when it makes a large canister of its Cocoa Classics Classic Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix. So, yes, for those of you who have absolutely no care for the environmental impact of such things, that means that Classic Dark is otherwise a perfect hot chocolate drink.
It is worth noting, though, that Classic Dark is not a thirst-quenching chocolate. This is understandable, just as one must hope that for a beverage claiming to embody the flavor of dark chocolate that it is not a terribly sweet drink. This is not, though around room temperature, the drink becomes less abrasive to the tastebuds and is more like what one might think of for an expensive hot chocolate beverage. But for the most part, Classic Dark is the dreams answered for many fans of dark chocolate who have been stuck drinking milk chocolate hot chocolate for years.
The Classic Dark hot cocoa mix is part of the Land O' Lakes Cocoa Classics premium hot cocoa line. The mix comes in a 1 1/4 oz. sealed foil package and is a pretty delicious mix. Each 1 1/4 oz. packet is a single serving and these bear a relatively high price tag virtually everywhere I have found them of approximately three for two dollars. For a single mug of cocoa, this is expensive when compared to other make-at-home products, but about on par with getting a cocoa at a place like Caribou Coffee.
Ease Of Preparation
The Cocoa Classics Classic Dark hot cocoa mix is ridiculously simple to make. Having been given a packet for Christmas (see how far behind I am on getting to things around here to review?!), it is evident that this has a decent shelf life, as the expiration date recommended using the packet before March 12, 2012. Because it is sealed and has some artificial preservatives in is, this is likely to last virtually forever unopened. A single serving is the packet and six oz. of water. There is no measuring of the product involved!
As a result, preparation is ridiculously simple. The top of the envelope has a perforated edge and one need simply tear open the top, which is quite easy, and pour the contents of the packet into a mug that is at least eight ounces large. Then, simply pour hot water, near boiling, over the powder and stir. Stir the powder until there are no blobs of chocolate powder visible in the water nor resistance from the bottom. The beverage will have a dark brown color to it and will be uniformly smooth.
Classic Dark has a very distinctive aroma. That aroma is the precise scent of brownies made with baker's chocolate baking in the oven. The scent is rich and full and it opens the consumer's nostrils up. That smell is one that is unlike weaker milk chocolate hot chocolates. With those, one might doubt what they are about to drink. With Classic Dark; the scent is clear - you are about to drink something chocolate flavored!
And there it is. As the fluid washes over the tongue, there is the dry, bold flavor of dark chocolate. This is not a thirst quencher and it is not especially sweet. Instead, this is the cocoa for those who like coffee, but want a flavor that is good, not just overwhelmingly bold (this is what distinguishes it from the unpleasant taste of Ghirardelli's Mocha Chocolate hot chocolate, reviewed here!). Instead, this is a satisfying drink in that it is the closest to liquid dark chocolate I have tasted and it tastes like 60% dark chocolate, with a slightly sweeter taste coming as the beverage cools, but before it hits room temperature.
This cocoa does have an aftertaste as well and that is simply a dry flavor that fills the mouth.
Land O' Lakes Cocoa Classics are hot cocoa mix and therefore not the most nutritious things in the known world, though the Classic Dark flavor could be far less nutritious than it is. Classic Dark hot cocoa has a few ingredients that cannot be easily identified. The primary ingredients are sugar, non-dairy creamer and cocoa. Because of the nonfat dry milk near the bottom of the ingredient list, it is not vegan compliant. Oddly, for a drink that is so dry and not sweet, sugar is the first ingredient.
And it is high in sugars. In each cup of Classic Dark Cocoa Classics, there are 140 calories, forty-five of which are from fat. There are 4 grams 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! While there is no cholesterol, a consumer gets 5% of their recommended daily allowance of salt out of a single packet of this beverage! There is a little protein, but not enough to live off this. In other words, this product is not a nutritious food product.
This product contains soy and milk and because there are no notations on it, one must assume it is not Kosher or gluten-free.
So long as one leaves the Classic Dark Cocoa Classic powder in its packet, it ought to stay usable. Given that it has an expiration date over a year away, one assumes it will last quite a while and dissolve appropriately when one attempts to use it. The packets, for those of us who consider the environmental impact of such things, are terribly wasteful and expensive. The foil/plastic wrappers are not recyclable anywhere I've been.
Cleanup is very easy as well. 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 into hot cocoa, 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.
Land O' Lakes Cocoa Classics are expensive for what one gets, though the Classic Dark hot cocoa is worth every penny. This is the best chocolate flavored hot cocoa I have had and if Land O' Lakes ever repackages it outside the single serving envelopes, that would be a perfect product!
For other Land O' Lakes hot chocolate drinks, please visit my reviews of:
French Vanilla & Chocolate cocoa
Raspberry And Chocolate Cocoa
Mint And Chocolate Cocoa
Land O'Lakes Chocolate Supreme
Land O' Lakes Chocolate & Caramel Cocoa
For other food or drink reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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