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Well it might be a sign of my age, but I do like a hot, milky drink before bedtime. If I can persuade my other half to make it for me while he makes his tea, even better! Now I should clarify thatís about all he does in the culinary department. But I digress. I used to have a mug of Horlicks instant mix or Green & Blackís drinking chocolate, but to be honest I donít have a very sweet tooth and I realised I was not really enjoying either of these because they were a bit too sweet for me. Iím one of those people who prefers my chocolate with 70% cocoa solids or more Ė I donít like Galaxy, for instance, as I find it a bit sickly Ė so you can see where Iím coming from.
I canít remember for sure when I changed, but I do recall doing my weekly shopping in the local supermarket, being down the beverages aisle and having a bit of a light bulb moment. I was fancying a change, and suddenly thought: ĎI used to enjoy a cup of cocoa; why not try it again?í Seeing the Green and Black product, and knowing I liked and trusted their products, I decided to indulge myself and give it a try. More pricey than comparable brands, perhaps, but I was pretty sure it wouldnít be wasted.
Another thing that influenced my choice was its ethical credentials. I try to buy fairly traded products when I can, having seen first hand the poverty in Kenya and having read about some of the reported issues around child labour in the cocoa trade. I wish there were more such products.
I looked forward to my first mug of cocoa when I got home. I think other reviewers have commented that itís not that easy to remove the gold seal and care is needed. I would agree, but it does at least mean that you can be sure that the product is truly sealed. The aroma of chocolate wafted up straight away and I was pretty sure Iíd made a good choice even at this stage. The directions suggest that you mix one teaspoon of cocoa powder with a little cold milk, then top up your mug with hot milk. To keep the calorie count down, I will often use half milk and half water. I find the taste still very pleasant. As I said, I donít have a very sweet tooth so I donít add sugar, but to be honest I think you could make it any way you wanted and it would still have a good chocolaty flavour.
Now for some product details
It comes in a cylindrical tub, coloured an appropriate shade of brown, containing 125g or 4.4 oz. The FAIRTRADE and Soil Association Organic symbols are displayed on the front, either side of the brand details. There is a lot of information in smaller print on the reverse. Itís not terribly easy to read in some lights as they have used gold lettering on a brown background. There are the standard potential allergy notices; the product is suitable for vegetarians, and an explanation is given about the addition of potassium carbonate to Ďto balance out the acidity and bring out the rich chocolaty aroma.í This is called Dutching, apparently, a technique used for making hot chocolate for close on 200 years so it must be OK! I would have been interested to know where the cocoa was sourced from, but couldnít find the information on the label. Green and Blackís website, given later in the review, indicates that their beans come from Belize and the Dominican Republic. I bought mine at the local Tesco store and paid £1.89.
The usual nutritional information is given. The calorie count is probably most important, at 345 per 100g. The website tells me that a 3.5g serving is 12 kcals. A mug made with skimmed milk would be 29 kcals and under 2g fat. You could make a drink of 45 kcals if you mixed the powder with cold milk, as usual, and topped up with hot water. I canít say Iíve tried this, but if I start that diet I made need to! It reads to me as though both sugar and salt levels are relatively low, though not the fat. I am no nutritional expert but that seems. Of course these levels will change significantly if youíre adding sugar and milk, which might be worth thinking about if youíre watching your diet. I found the taste of the cocoa to have a noticeable, distinct but mellow flavour of chocolate.
The thing I havenít said, because it wasnít the main reason I bought the product, is tha cocoa is a versatile product that can be used in a range of ways in cooking. If you make cakes you will probably have used it to make chocolate cakes. You might also use it to make or coat chocolate truffles, ice cream, mousses or biscuits. I donít have the Green and Black recipe book, but if you go to the website, www.greenandblacks.com/uk you will find a good selection of recipes, many accompanied by short videos.
May I give you one of my favourite recipes for a simple chocolate cake? Itís a variation of a quick Victoria Sandwich and uses only cocoa powder rather than melting chocolate.
1 tablespoon of cocoa and 2 tablespoons of hot water, blended together in a large bowl & left to slightly cool.
100 g soft margarine or butter if youíre feeling indulgent!
100g caster sugar
100g Self-Raising flour
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
Heat the oven to 180ňöC, 350ňöF, Gas mark 4.
Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
Add the remainder of the cake ingredients to the cocoa and water. Beat for 2-3 minutes or until well blended. You can do this mechanically or manually.
Turn it into your unturned tin, place in the centre of the oven and cook for abot 40 minutes until the cake is coming away slightly from the sides & springs back when pressed.
Let it cool in the tin for several minutes, then turn on to a cooling rack, remove any paper, and leave to cool completely before icing.
For the Chocolate Fudge Icing:
40g butter Ė and butter is really good here!
25g sieved cocoa powder Ė sieveing makes the icing much smoother and easier to mix
2-3 tablespoons milk
Approx 100g icing sugar, ideally sieved but I donít always!
You melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the cocoa. Over a low heat, cook for about a minute. Take it off the heat, add the milk and icing sugar and beat well. I sometimes find I need to adjust the quantity of icing sugar. Cool it to a spreading consistency but beware! It will set a bit like fudge if you leave it too long! Spread over the top of the cake and decorate as liked. [You can make the topping for other recipes, like for decorating biscuits, too; itís yummy but naughty!] Enjoy! Sorry, no calorie count!
Thank you for reading my review.
It also appears on the DooYoo site under the username Verbena.
Pictures of Green & Blacks Fairtrade Organic Cocoa Powder