A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Michael of Cocoa Boulevard asking if he could send me these products he had developed called Hot Chocolate Stirrers. As usual, whenever an interesting Filipino product jumps into my radar whether by choice or by chance, I say yes to trying it out. Michael did not immediately send me the products. In fact, he told me had to whip up a batch before he could do so to ensure the freshness of the products.
After more than a week, Michael personally delivered the chocolate stirrers to me, and this gave me the impression that he was pretty passionate about this product. That was a great sign. It made me excited for this brand.
A bean-to-cup company based in Manila, Cocoa Boulevard’s goal is to provide an indulgent and unique hot chocolate experience that is entirely different from your usual powder mix. Michael is the founder of the company, and what’s cool is that he is a self-taught chocolatier who came up with the idea of these hot chocolate stirrers after hours of experimentation.
From grinding its own hot chocolate using 100% local and organic ingredients, to molding it and flavoring it in Cocoa Boulevard’s signature way, everything is done by small batches to ensure top quality and freshness.
I received six flavors to try from Cocoa Boulevard, and all of them have the same set of instructions at the back. It says to use just 135ml of hot milk and stir the chocolate in, but when I tried it the first time with the Dark Hot Chocolate, I found it to be too thick to my liking. It had this way of clinging to my throat which I did not like.
If you’re a fan of thicker hot chocolate, then by all means, go this route. Personally, I found using anywhere between 150ml to 180ml of warm milk more to my liking. I add more milk for the sweeter flavors, but not any more than 180ml because I don’t want the drink to lose body.
The process of preparing this is simple because they packaged it cleverly. I love the idea that the chocolates are molded with the spoons in the center.
All you need is a warm cup of milk, then you just dunk the stirrers in and mix. Mine got deformed a little as I took it out of the packaging because of the blistering heat so I recommend storing these in the fridge until you’re ready to drink them.
It takes some time to melt these even when your milk is straight from the heat because of the size of the chocolate. Just keep mixing until everything is melted and incorporated into the milk. Since this isn’t a chocolate powder mix, you do get a more traditional-looking drink. Make sure you stir it well with every sip because some of the cocoa tends to separate and settle at the bottom.
These cups of hot chocolate smell amazing so don’t forget to get a good whiff before you drink it all up! Now let me share my thoughts on the flavors I got to try in more detail.
Dark Hot Chocolate (Php 140)
One of my favorites from the bunch because I am a huge fan of dark chocolate in general. This features 70% cocoa, which is around my percentage of choice. It eases into a nice bitter note but is also a little bit sweet.
At just 135ml of milk, this makes a super thick hot chocolate. I added a little bit more milk because it was a little too rich for my throat, and I love that it didn’t lose that dark chocolate color. It tasted good still.
Tsok Hot Chocolate (Php 140)
This one is 40% cocoa and has a pronounced peanut taste. As first try it seemed different, but it’s not necessarily something that I find myself looking for compared to the other flavors.
If you enjoy nutty chocolate bars, you might want to try this drink. For me, it’s kind of reminiscent of that.
White Hot Chocolate (Php 140)
I’m not a big white chocolate person and as expected, I found this way too sweet for my liking. But what’s interesting is that it has a really nice milky taste underneath all the sweetness that I think white chocolate lovers will really enjoy. I recommend this for those with a real sweet-tooth.
At 34% cocoa, it gives an off-white color, and frankly this is proof that Cocoa Boulevard is using real cocoa butter instead of any sort of filler that gives other white chocolates that almost bleached color.
Milk Hot Chocolate (Php 140)
At just 45% cocoa, this is THE quintessential hot chocolate drink from this lineup that I feel most people will enjoy. I liked the push and pull between sweet and chocolatey from this one.
You know how the milk chocolate version of Swiss Miss is more sugary than chocolatey? This is the reverse of that. This one starts out chocolatey before the sweet hits. Definitely another favorite.
As of now, there are two special Milk Hot Chocolate options with additional flavorings available for just an added cost of Php 20. It’s the same chocolate stirrer but with these small plastic syringes of Strawberry Cream and Irish Cream stuck on top. (I also spotted some forthcoming flavors from their website that sound quite exciting.)
You make it the same way you would the other hot chocolate drinks by simply stirring the chocolate and then squeezing in the flavorings afterwards. Cute!
Milk Hot Chocolate with Strawberry Cream (Php 160)
Since this is made with the same milk chocolate base as above, it wasn’t all that hard for me to like this. The addition of the strawberry cream made it even more fragrant, but I was really pleasantly surprised by how much the strawberry taste stood out against the chocolate.
I’m a fan of strawberry treats done right so this was among my favorites as well. Yum!
Milk Hot Chocolate with Irish Cream (Php 160)
Though delicious, I couldn’t quite sense the Irish Cream flavor when I drank this. There was the scent, but not much of the flavor. Makes me wonder if I didn’t properly stir this before I drank it.
You guys can probably tell I enjoyed putting this review together. I wasn’t expecting it to turn out THIS LONG to be honest. I guess it’s easier when both the product and the owner of the brand have given you a good impression.
I don’t really have anything negative to say about Cocoa Boulevard’s Chocolate Stirrers in terms of taste and quality. It really hits all the good points you would expect from an artisanal product. My favorites are the Dark Chocolate, the Classic Milk Chocolate, as well as the Milk Chocolate with Strawberry Cream one.
As a specialty product that is handcrafted by small batches, I understand why the price is a bit up there. I also understand why for many people, this might be an occasional indulgence item rather than an everyday one because of that price. Then again, if you think about it, the quality and work that goes into these chocolate stirrers are more worthy of attention than the usual sugary cup of Starbucks.
I would definitely recommend this to those who are looking to elevate their hot chocolate-drinking experience. I’m a firm believer that every once in a while, it’s nice to indulge in something special. I also recommend this as a gift for any choco-lovers in your life, because as a chocolate lover myself, I know I would LOVE to get a set of these chocolate stirrers.
Currently, Cocoa Boulevard is offering free delivery within Metro Manila until September 2018, so it is a really good time to try this product. You can learn more about the process of making these stirrers from their website or Instagram, after which you can send your orders through those channels as well. Be one of the first 15 to order using the code THETUMMYTRAIN10 to get 10% off a minimum purchase of Php 420 until July 31, 2018.
Hope you guys give this a try and leave me a comment when you do!
Full disclosure: I received these products for review purposes, but all opinions stated above are my own. I don’t make this much effort for stuff I don’t like. 😉