The 18 Varieties (Part 4)


Today’s entry in the 18 varieties focuses on the chocolate nougat flavor of the Charleston Chew brand.  Charleston Chew is one of those classic candies.  We see it on the store shelves all the time and, if you are like me, probably think of it as something our parents or grandparents enjoyed in their youth.  While the packaging is fairly modern in design, the name screams nostalgia.  For me, images of the Charleston dance craze run through my mind whenever I see the candy on display.  

Despite the classic imagery associated with the candy, I have always enjoyed Charleston Chew.  I think it is fair to say the feeling of the candy being old timey just goes to show its resilience through the years.  There are many candy varieties that are no longer manufactured and Charleston Chew is still here.  The candy has a delicious chocolate flavor accompanied by smooth, chewy nougat.  It is a very snackable confection.

Knowing how much I enjoyed the candy, I greatly looked forward to tasting the brand’s hot cocoa.  What most piqued my curiosity was how the nougat taste would translate into a beverage.  Granted, nougat does have a taste of its own, but it is most often used in chocolate candies to give density and texture.  How would they translate that over to a liquid?

I prepared the now standard 8oz cup of cocoa in the Keurig.  Unlike some of the other, more aromatic flavors I have tasted, there was no distinct scent detectable as the cup was being made.  This did not concern me.  The only two flavors I was looking for were chocolate and nougat and given the Keurig uses water to prepare the beverage I was not surprised in the least when these were not filling the air.

After the cup was readied I gave it a few sips.  The chocolate taste was most certainly there.  I know I tend to state that a lot when reviewing cocoas, but there are a few I will mention in future posts that honestly just do not have the expected level of chocolate flavor.  Therefore, I feel it is important to point out when a brand does have the advertised chocolate taste.

The beverage was smooth.  It was the smoothest of the 18 varieties so far.  The smoothness was inviting.  It made me want to keep drinking.  It was after the first few smooth sips that I began to notice something.  It was the nougat.  That familiar light nutty taste was coming through the distinct chocolate overtones.  While it is difficult for me to be precise, I want to say the nougat flavor was mostly almond in construct.  What was most interesting to me was the more I drank the more I realized it was the nougat that was creating the smoothness in the drink.  I really felt as though I was drinking a liquid Charleston Chew.

My opinion of this cocoa is very high.  It was advertised as being part of the Charleston Chew brand and it did not disappoint.  Each sip delivered that expected blend of chocolate and nougat flavor one would get by eating one of the traditional candies.  And what’s more is the expert way the manufacturers blended the nougat into the hot cocoa.  It was smooth and not overpowering.   This cocoa was truly delightful.

Drink warmly,

The Cocoa Nut



The 18 Varieties (Part 3)


Continuing on with my review of the 18 varieties of hot cocoa in the sample pack I ordered, today I will be telling you all about Bosco’s Salted Caramel flavor.  I have been aware of the Bosco chocolate company since I was a kid.  The first time I heard of it was on the now famous Seinfeld episode where it was revealed “Bosco” was George’s ATM password.  What I am ashamed to admit is that I have never tried the brand in any way before tasting this flavor of cocoa.

How is this possible?  Honestly, I have never seen it sold in any of my local grocery stores.  Bosco is most notable for its chocolate syrup product.  While growing up, if there was a need for chocolate syrup, my family usually purchase Hershey’s and, on rare occasion, a store brand of syrup.  Even after I struck out on my own and began buying my own groceries, Bosco was nowhere to be found.  I cannot ever recall even hearing an advertisement for the brand.

With this lack of experience, I prepared to drink their hot cocoa with an open mind.  Again, they are enough of a name brand that I recognized them, so I was more optimistic than cautious.  Now, this is also the first cup of the sample pack that I used the 8oz setting for the Keurig.  Even before I tasted the cocoa, I could tell this was meant to be the optimum setting as the end of the water stream was not clear like it had been at the previous higher settings, but still mildly brown.  This indicated the cup would most likely not be watered down.

As soon as the Keurig was finished making the cup I was already pleased.  The cup was easily 2 feet beneath my nose on the low table the Keurig was set on and I could already smell distinct aroma of caramel.  The color of the cocoa was slightly darker than I expected.  Not having much of a reference point for salted caramel flavored hot chocolate, I did expect it to be on the lighter side of color, close to caramel.  The liquid in the cup was not very dark, but closer to a dark brown one would usually associate with cocoa.

I picked up the cup and brought it to my mouth.  The caramel smell did not fade.  I took the first sip and was very pleased.  The texture was smooth and the caramel taste was definitely present.  Perhaps the most important attribute to note was that the caramel flavor did not overpower the cocoa.  They blended well together.  The tastes were consistent throughout the entire cup.  I was initially met with chocolate and then a light taste of caramel as an after-taste.

This was a fine cup of hot cocoa and a wonderful first experience with Bosco.  I look forward to not only tasting the rest of Bosco’s flavors in the sample pack, but completing a new quest to find Bosco syrup and taste that as well.

Drink warmly,

The Cocoa Nut


The 18 Varieties (Part 2)


To recap for those that may not have read my previous post on the subject, I am in the process of reviewing 18 varieties of hot cocoa from a sample pack I purchased online.  Today’s flavor Peanut Butter Cup by Brooklyn Bean Roastery.

Brooklyn Bean Roastery is another brand of hot cocoa I was unfamiliar with before I received my sampler.  This might be because they primarily sell coffee, with a specialty focus in single servings for Keurig machines.  I was cautious when tasting this brand’s cocoa for the first time.  There is a long held belief in the world that the flavor of coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate.  I hoped Brooklyn did not incorporate coffee flavor in their cocoa.

The concept of peanut butter cup flavored cocoa appealed to me immediately.  One of my favorite chocolate candies is the peanut butter cup.  It is normally the first item I look for when entering any candy store, especially the little mom and pop shops you often find in vacation towns and tourist destinations.  

This was my second time using the Keurig to make hot chocolate.  My previous attempt set the device to dispense a 12oz serving.  This produced a watered down cup of hot cocoa.  I decided to go with a 10oz serving for this round.  The results were a slight improvement.

The 10oz serving from the Keurig did produce a less watered down cup of cocoa, but it still was not concentrated enough.  The peanut butter flavor I was looking forward to was just not there.  It was faint at best.  This could have been due to the 10oz of water, but I am hesitant to believe what should have been a prominent flavor could have been diluted so significantly.  

On the other hand, the chocolate flavor was fairly decent.  It was an average taste for a cup of powdered cocoa.  I was incredibly please to not detect any notes of coffee in the cocoa.  I tip my cap to Brooklyn Bean Roastery for keeping these flavors separate.  I am very interested to see if the flavor and intensity is improved any when I lower the water level to 8oz.


Drink warmly,

The Cocoa Nut

The 18 Varieties (Part 1)


Recently I was assigned to work in an office where the closest beverage was either water or coffee.  Now, I have nothing against water.  I drink it often.  But it is rather cold in this office, especially since we are in mid-November, and cool to tepid tap water is just not what I am looking for in a beverage.  The only option for a warmer liquid is coffee, which I refuse to drink.

I could go on and on about how much I despise coffee and even preemptively shoot down urgings for me to try different variese because I have tried numerous ones.  Since we are just getting to know each other here, let me be very clear on one point: When I say I do not like something it is because I have had a fair interaction with it and have made an informed opinion.  I try to be as fair as possible in life and rarely dismiss something on first go around.

But this is not a blog about coffee and how terrible it is.  This is a blog about hot chocolate.  As you have probably guessed by now, I did find a way to enjoy some hot chocolate while working in this office.  To put a fine point on it, the coffee machine is a Keurig and I purchased a sample pack of single serving hot cocoas from Amazon.

The sampler contained 40 individual servings spread out over 18 varieties of hot chocolate.  Several of them are from the same brand, but within these brands were different flavors.  I have not tried them all yet.  I am working on that.  And that is where we find our discussion today.  Here you will find my first round of interpretations of different flavors of hot chocolate.  I have sampled 9 of the 18 varieties so far.  For my readers’ sakes I will try to keep my posts on these limited to 1 or 2 flavors at a time.

First up is the brand of Felix & Norton and their Chocolat au Lait flavor:

For starters, a quick Google search tells me Felix & Norton is a cookie company based in Montreal.  This explains two things immediately.  It explains why there is a cookie prominently displayed on the packaging and it explains why both French and English are used to denote the flavor in this serving is milk chocolate.

The taste of this brand and flavor is not bad.  There was no strong aroma and the chocolate flavor was fairly smooth.  As I have stated before, I try very hard to be fair in life, especially when I am critiquing something.  In that spirit of fairness I must admit I set the Keurig to a 12oz setting.  I did this for two reasons.  First, I had a 12oz cup.  Second, there was no marking on the package of the cocoa to indicate the suggested sizing.  I bring this up because the cocoa did taste watered down and that was more likely user error than the fault of the brand.  Lastly, I thought I detected a hint of coffee flavor.  It was not overpowering and I chalked it up to using a coffee machine to make the cocoa.

Overall, I would say this is an average cocoa.  Nothing negative about the taste or texture, but nothing amazing either.  Regardless of knowing whether or not Felix & Norton is a cookie company, a cursory glance at the packaging would suggest a cookie flavor of some sort in the cocoa.  I honestly did not taste it.  Again, to be as fair as possible, the words on the package do not say it is cookie flavored, simply milk chocolate.  And I will re-review this cocoa in an 8oz serving in the future to see if my opinions change.

You can order the sample pack I am reviewing here:  Amazon


Drink warmly,

The Cocoa Nut




The world is full of small pleasures.  For me, one of them is a good cup of hot cocoa.  Some like to refer to it as hot chocolate or simply cocoa.  I find nothing wrong with any of these.  No matter what you call it, I think we all have our preferences and fond thoughts associated with this wonderful beverage.

Chocolate in general is a vice of mine.  Whether it be milk, dark, fruit infused, candy coated, solid bar, powdered, or syrup, chocolate is one of this world’s greatest wonders.  And out of all of these, hot cocoa is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it.  And while hot cocoa is the primary discussion point of this blog, rest assured I am open to discussing chocolate in a much broader view.

Check back here with me often to read some of my musings, recipes, techniques, and interpretations of various varieties of hot chocolate I have sampled.  I am currently working my way through a sampler of 18 different varieties and documenting my impressions.  I will be sharing them here soon.  I also look forward to hearing from you, the readers, and responding to your emails and comments.

Drink warmly,

The Cocoa Nut