The Good: Good taste and aroma, Nothing truly bad in it!
The Bad: Very expensive in this form, Environmental impact of packaging
The Basics: For my first experience with Bellagio, their Holiday Spice Hot Chocolate mix underwhelms me, but does not at all leave a bad taste in my mouth!
With the end of winter comes clearance hot cocoas! That’s always a good time for me as a reviewer. This year, one of the hot cocoas I was most eager to try (and was thrilled to pick up on clearance) was the Bellagio Holiday Spice Hot Chocolate mix.
Sadly, the anticipation did not make the great-smelling, somewhat unimpressive tasting, beverage into a perfect drink at all.
The Holiday Spice hot cocoa mix is part of the Bellagio premium hot cocoa line. The mix comes in a 1.25 oz. sealed paper package and is a good mix. Each 1.25 oz. packet is a single serving and these bear a relatively high price tag virtually everywhere I have found them. Locally, we have only found them for $1.10/ea! For a single mug of cocoa, this is expensive when compared to other make-at-home products. On the plus side, getting them on clearance for only $.59 took the sting out of the price for me, though!
Ease Of Preparation
The Holiday Spice hot cocoa mix is ridiculously simple to make. The cocoa is rather enduring and the new packet I just picked up would have expired in January of 2015. 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 ¾ cup of water. There is no measuring of the product involved!
As a result, preparation is ridiculously simple. The top of the envelope is paper 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 near-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 very pale brown color to it and will be uniformly smooth and creamy.
Bellagio Holiday Spice hot cocoa has a scent that is appropriately spicy. The aroma of nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon fills the nose as this hot beverage steams up and it smells much more like a vanilla chai drink than anything that contains chocolate.
As appropriately foreshadowed by the scent, the Holiday Spice hot chocolate is very mild on the chocolate flavoring. Instead, the dry, flavorful cocoa tastes like a number of somewhat nebulous (though tasty) spices. The chocolate flavor asserts itself more as a slightly sweet aftertaste after the primary flavor has passed. The mix of spices is certainly more intriguing to the tongue than plain milk chocolate cocoa, but it is not exceptionally chocolatey or distinctive.
Interestingly, the Bellagio Holiday Spice Cocoa leaves nothing in the way of an aftertaste; not even a milky flavor on the tongue.
Bellagio Hot Cocoa is a hot cocoa mix and therefore not the most nutritious things ever. While I am used to reviewing things like all natural teas where the ingredients are all easily pronounceable and recognizable, the Holiday Spice hot cocoa has a few ingredients that cannot be easily identified. The primary ingredients are sugar, non dairy creamer and Dipotassium Phosphate. It is not vegan compliant as a result. Ironically, there is nothing even resembling any of the spices this smells like in the ingredient list.
What is not a mystery is how high this product is in sugars. In each cup of Holiday Spice Cocoa Classics, there are 140 calories, thirty of which are from fat. There are three 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, but a consumer gets 4% 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.
This product contains milk and soy and because there are no notations on it, one must assume it is not Kosher or gluten-free.
So long as one leaves the Holiday Spice 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 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 Bellagio Holiday Spice is good, but the novelty of a “holiday spice” flavor wears off quickly at the packet’s full price. Even so, it’s worth trying once at least; I know I’m glad I did.
For other hot cocoa reviews, please check out:
Land O’ Lakes Double Fudge & Chocolate Cocoa
Maud Borup Peppermint Drinking Chocolate
Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate With Marshmallows
For other beverage reviews, please visit my Food And Drink Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.