The Good: Good taste, Nothing truly bad in it!
The Bad: Environmental impact of packaging, Not particularly minty.
The Basics: Peppermint Candycane Hot Chocolate mix from Stephen’s Gourmet does not capitalize well on its own gimmick.
I have a love of all things mint, a love my wife knows very well. She frequently gets me various mint cocoas to try and review, as gifts. When I was excited to show her the cocoa I got on post-Christmas clearance, she seemed a little annoyed with me. As it turns out, she once picked me up several packets of the Stephen’s Gourmet Peppermint Candycane Cocoa, before I was reviewing such things so obsessively. However, in trying it out for enjoyment (I bought 12 packets each, as they were on clearance for only seventeen cents each!), I think I discovered exactly why I did not review the Stephen’s Gourmet Peppermint Candycane Cocoa before: this is not at all minty.
For gourmet hot cocoa, I expect something that is truly minty in flavor! The gimmick of this cocoa is that it contains tiny pieces of broken up candy cane, but they do little to nothing to infuse a mint flavor into this cocoa!
The Peppermint Candycane hot cocoa mix is part of the Stephen’s Gourmet premium hot cocoa line. The mix comes in a 1.4 oz. sealed paper package and is a tasty mix. Each 1.4 oz. packet is a single serving originally sold (locally) at $.65/ea. For a single mug of cocoa, this not oppressively expensive, but it is pricier than most major brands of hot chocolate.
Ease Of Preparation
The Peppermint Candycane hot cocoa mix is ridiculously simple to make. The cocoa is rather enduring and the new packet I just bought last week had an expiration date of December 4, 2014! Because it is sealed and has some preservatives in is, this is likely to last virtually forever unopened. A single serving is the packet and ¾ cup of hot 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 boiling water over the powder and stir. Stir the powder until there are no blobs of cocoa powder visible in the water or giving resistance from the bottom. The beverage will have a light brown color to it and will be uniformly smooth and creamy.
Stephen’s Gourmet Peppermint Candycane hot cocoa smells more subtly minty in its aroma than one might expect. This smells very much like an ordinary hot milk chocolate drink. There is nothing distinctive in the scent to indicate that this is a mint cocoa.
Fortunately, the Stephen’s Gourmet Peppermint Candycane Cocoa has a decent minty flavor to it. The milky flavor is not as peppermint as a true mint lover might like, but it is distinctly minty, with a milk chocolate secondary flavor. This is one of the milkiest flavors of hot cocoa I have tried.
The Peppermint Candycane Hot Chocolate has a slight dry aftertaste which dissipates pretty quickly.
Stephen’s Gourmet is a hot cocoa mix and therefore not the most nutritious things ever, though the Peppermint Candycane flavor could be far less nutritious than it is. While I am used to reviewing things like all natural teas where the ingredients are all easily pronounceable and recognizable, the Peppermint Candycane hot cocoa has a few ingredients that cannot be easily identified. The primary ingredients are sugar, candy cane pieces, and sweet whey. It is not vegan compliant as a result of the whey and dry milk 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 cup of Peppermint Candycane Hot Chocolate, there are 170 calories, thirty of which are from fat. There are two and a half 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! There is no cholesterol (2 mg) and only 8% of their recommended daily allowance of sodium 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. But it is good!
This product contains milk and possibly eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and wheat. Because there are no notations on it, one must assume it is not Kosher or gluten-free.
So long as one leaves the Peppermint Candycane powder in its packet, it ought to stay usable. 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 paper and foil wrappers are not recyclable anywhere I've been.
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 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.
The Stephen’s Gourmet Peppermint Candycane is minty and slightly chocolatey and good enough to recommend as a comparatively affordable staple mint cocoa.
For other hot cocoa reviews, please check out:
Gourmet Village Candy Cane Hot Chocolate
Land O’ Lakes Double Fudge & Chocolate Cocoa
Maud Borup Peppermint Drinking Chocolate
For other beverage reviews, please visit my Food Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.