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Hot Chocolate Makers: Can Kitchen Gadgets Actually Help?

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Hey, are you stuck in the dark ages, still using ye olde saucepan and a whisk to make hot chocolate?! To be perfectly honest, I am too.

But there are companies out there looking to make our lives easier by creating new tech that can be used (or repurposed) to produce great hot chocolate every time.

Having recently reviewed Hotel Chocolat's Velvetiser, I thought it was time to investigate the tech available to make creamy and frothy café-style hot chocolates. Rather than focus purely of the gadgets, I've also compared them against the de facto methods of making hot chocolate at home, to get a balanced assessment.

In the spirit of creating less work for ourselves when making hot chocolate, I've only considered gadgets and machines that can handle milk AND that can melt down chocolate, ideally blending the pair to a smooth consistency. I've omitted pod machines, novelty gadgets like battery powered whisks, commercial grade machines, and repurposed cafetieres (termed 'Chocolatieres'). Compact, fuss-free, easy-to-use gadgets that convert milk and chocolate into a steaming hot chocolate is the name of the game here.

Meet the hot chocolate makers

ProductMakesFroths?ChocolateAroundRating
Saucepan and whiskSeveral cupsMinimalCan handle most typesFrom £30★★★
MicrowaveSeveral cupsNoAs fine as possibleFrom £40★★
The Chocolate Society Chocolate Shaker°1 cupMinimalCan handle most types£25★★★★
Dualit Milk Frother1 cupYesFlakes and powders£50★★★★
Gourmet Gadgetry Retro Diner Milk Frother2 cupsYesGrated blocks, flakes, or powders£37★★★★
Homgeek Milk Frother°1 cupYesFlakes and powders£34★★★★
Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser°1 cupYesFlakes£100★★★★
KRUPS XL2000 Automatic Milk Frother°1 cupYesCan handle most types£93★★★★
Lavazza MilkUp Red Milk Frother1 cupYesPowders£60★★
Nespresso Barista1 cupYesCan handle most types£179★★★★

Saucepan and whisk

Argos Home 14cm Aluminium Milk Pan - Black
14cm Black Aluminium Milk Pan (Photo credit to Argos)

TRIED & TESTED

Let's begin with the traditional option. The humble saucepan is a time-tested method of making hot chocolate but it does have its drawbacks, namely the constant attention it requires not to burn or boil over (cleaning boiled milk off a hob is never fun).

But for its negatives, there are also positives. The number of cups you can make in one go is limited only by the size of your pan. Plus, you can heat the milk to your preferred temperature. Best of all, you can use a wide variety of chocolate grades, from powders through to bulkier chocolate buttons.

Simply pour the milk into the pan (use a cup to measure how much you'll need). Turn on the heat to a medium setting to minimise the risk of milk burning to the bottom of the pan. Gently stir until the milk is as hot as you like it. I prefer it to be just before it tries to bubble over the sides of the pan but that might be too hot for some. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate (the instructions will usually give guidance on how much, but it's usually around 20g to 25g per cup). The residual heat in the milk should be enough to melt most forms of chocolate (buttons, shards, etc.). If you can, try to avoid turning the heat back on as you'll risk scorching the chocolate. Stir continuously until you get a smooth consistency. Whisking can help to introduced air bubbles to help froth it up, but you'll need a lot of persistence. Decant into a cup or mug. Rest your weary whisking arm by nursing a nice cup of hot chocolate.

  • Gadget: An electric, gas, or induction hob, a saucepan, and a whisk.
  • Chocolate needed: This setup can pretty much handle anything so long as you give it time. It's not phased by chocolate powder, buttons, disks, pebbles, bark, or shards. Just remember, the smaller the pieces of chocolate, the quicker and easier they will melt into the milk.
  • Pros: You can control the heat; you can make several cups in one go; it is easy enough to wash up afterwards, although burnt-on milk isn't fun to scrub off.
  • Cons: It's time consuming; chocolate can easily get stuck around the edges where the whisk cannot reach; there's a risk of it boiling over or burning if you leave it sitting without stirring for too long.
  • Price: Full-size hobs start from around £80 although portable hobs like this one at Currys start from around £18. Then you need a saucepan like this pocket-friendly one from Argos at less than a tenner, and a whisk will set you back £2 from B&M Bargains. So all-in-all, you could get going from as little as £30.

Ratings

  • Glamour: ☆☆☆☆☆. There is none. Absolutely nothing about this setup screams desirable or stylish.
  • Versatility: ★★★★★. The hob, saucepan, and whisk can all be used to produce other wonderful things, like sauces and gravies, hot milk, custard, and oodles of other tasty treats.
  • Taste: ★★★★☆. You can make hot chocolate to your individual preferences, but there's a risk of burning the milk and chocolate.
  • Effortlessness: ★★☆☆☆. Making hot chocolate and cleaning-up afterwards just feels like hard work. It's a labour-intensive method, too.
  • Overall: ★★★☆☆. Despite the versatility of the setup, and the fact it can handle many forms of chocolate, making hot chocolate this way is still a faff. It doesn't make life easy in any way.

Microwave

George Home Manual Microwave - Black
George Home Manual Microwave in Black (Photo credit to ASDA)

TRIED & TESTED

This piece of kitchen equipment usually sits in a corner, looking a bit forlorn. It's a clever bit of kit but is often seldom used by many households.

A microwave can heat up milk to boiling point, but much like the saucepan above, it needs constant supervision so as not to make a right royal mess.

The method is very similar too, although it's easier to get going. Fill a microwaveable cup with milk. Don't fill it too high as it'll bubble up if you heat it long enough. Set the microwave for a few minutes. I find half a cup takes around 3 to 4 minutes while a full cup of milk takes around 7 to 10 minutes to boil. Remove from the microwave and add the chocolate, using the residual heat to melt the chocolate. Now, the shape of your cup will determine how much stirring you can do to mix everything up, but one thing's for sure, you'll struggle to get a smooth, well-mixed result.

I have experimented with various methods including heating the milk then adding the chocolate; doing this again but whacking it back into the microwave to get back to a boil; and adding everything to the mug and heating it all together. Regardless of method, the chocolate struggles to blend with the milk in all my tests, so I ended up with lots of tiny chocolate bits floating around, which after a few minutes settle into a chocolate halo.

  • Gadget: A microwave and a microwaveable cup (not all are so be sure to check).
  • Chocolate needed: It loves thin pieces of chocolate, so shards are ideal. Small chocolate buttons and drops can be more problematic to melt but are possible. I wouldn't go for anything larger unless you like big lumps of chocolate sitting in the bottom of your cup.
  • Pros: Less washing up as you make it in the cup you drink from; Less labour-intensive than a saucepan as you don't need to constantly stir as the milk heats up.
  • Cons: Chocolate struggles to melt properly, and stirring with a spoon or tiny whisk doesn't allow it to combine into a silky drink.
  • Price: ASDA sells a well-rated George microwave for less than £40. Wilko has a microwave-safe glass latte mug for £1 which looks pretty although will be a pain to stir near the narrow bottom.

Ratings

  • Glamour: ☆☆☆☆☆. None. It's a hunk of plastic and metal that chomps up valuable worktop real estate.
  • Versatility: ★★★★★. So long as it's microwave-safe, you can use it in here.
  • Taste: ★★☆☆☆. It's hard to blend the milk and chocolate into a smooth emulsion, especially so in tall, narrow mugs.
  • Effortlessness: ★★☆☆☆. You need to watch it for the duration it is in the microwave, then you need to stir like mad to try and blend everything. There's less washing-up than with a saucepan though.
  • Overall: ★★☆☆☆. This one falls down on taste as the chocolate doesn't blend as well as in a larger saucepan mixed with a whisk. It doesn't really make life that much easier either.

The Chocolate Society Chocolate Shaker

The Chocolate Society's Hot Chocolate Shaker Gadget
Hot Chocolate Shaker kitchen gadget. Photo credit to The Chocolate Society

TRIED & TESTED

Funded through a Kickstarter campaign, the Hot Chocolate Shaker is an innovative kitchen gadget. The concept is simple: add chocolate and hot liquid to the beaker, pop on the lid, and shake. But the science behind it is where the magic lies.

The friction created by shaking the liquid and chocolate for around 10 seconds is enough to emulsify the hot chocolate into a creamy, frothy beverage - even when it's made with hot water!

I bought myself one of these after seeing a demonstration and think it's a fantastically easy-to-use kitchen gadget that will get a lot of use in my house. It's as easy to make a hot chocolate as it is to make a cup of tea.

All you need in addition to the liquid (water or any type of milk) chocolate of your choice is a means to heat the liquid up (a kettle for water or a saucepan/microwave for the milk).

  • Gadget: The Hot Chocolate Shaker
  • Chocolate needed: I've tried powders, flakes, beads, and pieces of chocolate bar and they all melt smoothly. You'll need to break up large chunks of chocolate into easy-to-melt pieces but you can turn pretty much any chocolate bar into a hot chocolate!
  • Pros: 10 seconds of shaking makes a deliciously smooth, creamy hot chocolate with no melted chocolate stuck to the sides. It's easy to use and only requires gentle shaking.
  • Cons: The insulated beaker can make one hot chocolate at a time.
  • RRP: £25, or £29.95 with a starter pack of hot chocolate drops.

The Hot Chocolate Shaker

See it at The Chocolate Society°

Ratings

  • Glamour: ★★★★☆. This isn't a gadget you'd proudly put on display but it is incredibly practical and easy-to-use. It stows away in a cupboard without taking up much space at all.
  • Versatility: ★★★★★. This can handle pretty much any liquid and chocolate combination and the results are pretty consistent. It emulsifies and froths the liquid in a mere 10 seconds.
  • Taste: ★★★★★. Deliciously divine is the best way to describe the taste! Rich, creamy, and frothy - even when hot water is used as the base liquid.
  • Effortlessness: ★★★★☆. This manual kitchen gadget requires about 10 seconds of shaking. It's nowhere near as vigorous as I imagined when I read up about the product, but there's still movement required which may mean some people with arm and shoulder weaknesses or injuries might struggle with the motion.
  • Overall: ★★★★☆. A great value hot chocolate kitchen gadget that focuses on science to produce a wonderfully smooth and frothy hot chocolate. Heat the liquid separately, add it and the chocolate to the beaker, twist on the special expansion lid, and shake for 10 seconds. It's no more difficult to make than a cup of tea, meaning you'll find yourself making hot chocolate much more frequently.

Dualit Milk Frother

Dualit Milk Frother with powder
Dualit Milk Frother (Photo credit to Rob Powell)

TRIED & TESTED

The Dualit describes itself as a milk frother but it has several party tricks up its sleeve. The first is that it can produce hot and cold frothed milk. The second is that it can make hot chocolate (as well as jazzing up lattés, cappuccinos, and even bog standard instant coffee).

Unsurprisingly, given Dualit's work on Hotel Chocolat's Velvetiser (see below), there are some similarities between the two models. The whisk, for instance, is magnetically held in place to avoid making a splash when pouring. The second is that it too boasts a heating time of just 2 minutes.

It has a 330ml capacity so can make one cup of hot chocolate at a time.

The mention of hot chocolate on the Dualit website seems to be a late addition, as there is no mention in the manual of how best to make it. I consulted former editor of Chocolatier.co.uk, Rob Powell, who tested out making hot chocolate in his machine.

"I added 3 teaspoons of Green & Black's Organic Hot Chocolate drink° after pouring the milk into my Dualit Milk Frother," he said. Rob continued, " it gives you a well mixed hot chocolate with none of the bits at the bottom you might normally expect if you were stirring it with a whisk or spoon."

"The most frothy option gives you a nice thick head which can support marshmallows," he added. Rob also noticed the Dualit device has a similar temperature restriction as Hotel Chocolat's machine, so recommends "a blast in the microwave" to turn a "warm chocolate" into a "hot chocolate".

As for clean-up, Rob praised the Dualit for being "fairly easy" - the device just needs a rinse and the whisk and lid can go in the dishwasher.

  • Gadget: The Dualit Black Milk Frother.
  • Chocolate needed: Flaked chocolate or chocolate powder is best here.
  • Pros: Effortless; it can be used as a milk frother or as a hot chocolate maker.
  • Cons: It can only make one cup at a time.
  • RRP: £49.99.

Dualit Black Milk Frother

See it on John Lewis & Partners

Ratings

  • Glamour: ★★★☆☆. The Dualit features a very similar design to other cheaper models in this run-down, but includes patented technology to make a great frothy hot chocolate.
  • Versatility: ★★★★☆. This machine can make frothy milk and hot chocolate using powder or flakes.
  • Taste: ★★★★☆. This gadget makes a nice, creamy textured hot chocolate. It might not be as hot as you'd like, though.
  • Effortlessness: ★★★★★. It's a doddle to use, and clean-up is relatively breezy.
  • Overall: ★★★★☆. A simple looking gadget designed to whip milk into a velvety froth.

Gourmet Gadgetry Retro Diner Milk Frother and Hot Chocolate Maker

Gourmet Gadgetry Retro Diner Milk Frother and Hot Chocolate Maker
Gourmet Gadgetry Retro Diner Milk Frother and Hot Chocolate Maker (Photo credit to IWOOT)

This bold red gadget sits in Gourmet Gadgetry's range of retro diner-themed products. If you've already got red appliances in your home, this will blend in nicely. Otherwise, it might stand out more than others in this list.

Unlike most gadgets on this list, this product is specifically marketed as both a milk frother AND a hot chocolate maker all-in-one. It's able to handle both hot and cold milk, so making cold frothed milkshakes is also an option. Bear in mind that you can't make a chocolate milkshake from scratch using real chocolate as without heat, there's no way for the chocolate to melt.

The capacity of this gadget is a very generous 550ml, meaning you can make two cups of hot chocolate at the same time. It's easy to use too - fill with milk to the line, add your chocolate, cover, and switch on. It takes up to 3 minutes to heat the 550ml.

The manufacturer recommends a whopping 54g of chocolate to make a single 350ml drink, and 84g of chocolate when making two cups totalling 550ml. This might require a bit of trial and error as those feel a bit on the high side to me.

  • Gadget: The Gourmet Gadgetry Retro Diner Milk Frother and Hot Chocolate Maker
  • Chocolate needed: Avoid blocks of chocolate as these can burn to the bottom of the device and interfere with the stirring head. Flaked (or grated) chocolate or chocolate powder works best.
  • Pros: It can make two cups in one run; it can froth hot and cold milk.
  • Cons: Its design won't suit every kitchen.
  • RRP: £36.99.

Gourmet Gadgetry Retro Diner Milk Frother

See it at IWOOT

Ratings

  • Glamour: ★★★☆☆. I'm not a fan of the red colour but it does sit perfectly next to other products in the Gourmet Gadgetry Retro Diner range.
  • Versatility: ★★★★☆. This is a milk frother and hot chocolate maker all-in-one.
  • Effortlessness: ★★★★★. It's a doddle to use, and clean-up is relatively breezy. The best bit? It makes two cups in one go, saving time.
  • Overall: ★★★★☆. It's a good value option that can make two cups of hot chocolate at a time. The colour might not be to everyone's taste though.

Homgeek Milk Frother

Homgeek Milk Frother
Homgeek Milk Frother (Photo credit to Amazon; Homgeek)

This pocket-friendly gadget is another milk frother, but its party trick is that it can also be used as a hot chocolate maker.

The Homgeek Milk Frother makes use of a Strix temperature control which regulates the temperature to a range of between 60℃ and 70℃, seeking to land at 65℃ in the process. The Velvetiser (see below) pegs the optimum hot chocolate temperature at between 68°C and 70°C, so this is pretty close.

There are two paddles supplied with this machine - one for creating froth and one for stirring. The drum can cope with up to 300ml of milk when stirring or 150ml when frothing, so you'll need to find the sweet spot for your recipe. You'll get one cup at a time out of this machine.

Inside, there's a non-stick lining and the coating of the double-walled gadget is supposedly anti-fingerprint, which on a sleek gadget like this has to be a good thing. It sits on a kettle-style base and the 500W motor is very quiet in operation too. Homgeek claims it takes less than 2 minutes to make hot milk, and they reckon cold milk makes the best foam.

  • Gadget: The Homgeek Milk Frother.
  • Chocolate needed: There's little information available but I'd suggest flaked chocolate would work best to avoid scorching the chocolate on the bottom of the gadget.
  • Pros: Like the Dualit (above), it can heat milk or can froth it; can froth cold milk; and it can make hot chocolate.
  • Cons: It heats to a set temperature; reviewers frequently report that milk scorches onto the bottom of the gadget.
  • RRP: £33.99.

Homgeek Milk Frother

See it on Amazon°

Ratings

  • Glamour: ★★★☆☆. I like the sleek look of the Homgeek Milk Frother, and appreciate the inclusion of an anti-fingerprint coating on the matt black outer.
  • Versatility: ★★★★☆. This is a milk frother that can handle hot and cold milks and can mix and froth milks for a wide range of coffee-based drinks. It can also make hot chocolate!
  • Effortlessness: ★★★★★. It's a doddle to use, and clean-up is relatively breezy.
  • Overall: ★★★★☆. A great price, it looks good, it can handle a wide range of milks, and it can make me a hot chocolate. What's not to love?

Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser

Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser in Copper
Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser in Copper

TRIED & TESTED - Read my Velvetiser review
This is the only gadget on my list that is solely devoted to the art of making the ultimate hot chocolate. It's not a milk frother, it's an "in-home drinking hot chocolate system". It's also one of the most beautiful machines on my list.

The Velvetiser takes just 2½ minutes to make a cup of hot chocolate. Fill it with milk or water to the line, add in the special Hotel Chocolat flakes, cover and switch on. You'll soon be treated to a creamy, frothy hot chocolate. This kitchen gadget heats drinks to the optimum temperature for flavour (that's between 68°C and 70°C), and it's relatively easy to clean afterwards.

While branded as Hotel Chocolat, Velvetiser is the result of work with Dualit (see above for their own model). It's a one-trick pony but that's not a bad thing as it means most of the attention went on creating an optimum Barista-grade hot chocolate at home. The rest of the work went into creating such a beautiful form. Buy this and put your kettle and coffee maker to shame. It's stunning, especially in copper. Other available colours include charcoal grey and gloss white.

  • Gadget: Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser.
  • Chocolate needed: It can only handle flaked chocolate, and obviously, Hotel Chocolat recommends using their own range.
  • Pros: Effortless; it is designed to do one job and one job only; and it looks stunning.
  • Cons: It can't handle other types of chocolate; and it can only make one cup at a time.
  • RRP: £110 for the starter pack (Velvetiser, two ceramic cups, 10 single-serve sachets of chocolate flakes).

Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser

See it on Amazon°

Ratings

  • Glamour: ★★★★★. It's absolutely stunning, especially in copper. It's also available in trendy grey and white if that's your thing.
  • Versatility: ★★☆☆☆. This machine only makes hot chocolate (and only one cup at a time), and it can only handle chocolate flakes (ideally Hotel Chocolat's own).
  • Taste: ★★★★☆. This gadget makes a nice, creamy textured hot chocolate. It's not as hot as I'd like, but I appreciate the Velvetiser heats the hot chocolate to the optimum temperature for flavour, not personal preferences.
  • Effortlessness: ★★★★★. It's a doddle to use, and clean-up is relatively breezy.
  • Overall: ★★★★☆. This is a lovely looking gadget and it does just one thing, meaning the engineers devoted their time to creating a scientifically precise cup of hot chocolate, rather than getting the device to multitask.

KRUPS Automatic Milk Frother

KRUPS XL2000 Automatic Milk Frother
KRUPS XL2000 Automatic Milk Frother (Photo credit to Amazon/KRUPS)

Codenamed the KRUPS XL2000, the Automatic Milk Frother is one of the priciest options on my list. Crafted in brushed stainless steel, it scores well on the visual side of things, although I prefer the look of the Velvetiser (see above) over the XL2000.

It sits on a kettle-style base and boasts three functions with automatic temperature controls for making cappuccinos, café lattes, and hot milk. Inside, it features a non-stick coating which should hopefully make cleaning up a breeze. There's also quantity markers in the 300ml capacity insulated drum so you don't have to measure out milk before using this gadget.

Pour in the milk, add your chocolate, and use the 'hot milk' setting to create a creamy hot chocolate. KRUPS advises adding "a few squares of chocolate to the milk before frothing," implying the machine is more than capable of melting down chocolate blocks.

When you drink is ready, pour left- or right-handed into your favourite mug and enjoy a barista-quality frothed hot chocolate.

  • Gadget: The KRUPS XL2000 Automatic Milk Frother.
  • Chocolate needed: KRUPS reckons it can handle squares of chocolate bar.
  • Pros: Effortless; it can be used as a milk frother or as a hot chocolate maker; and it can handle cubes of chocolate according to the manufacturer.
  • Cons: It can only make one cup at a time.
  • RRP: £99.99.

KRUPS XL2000 Automatic Milk Frother

See it on Amazon°

Ratings

  • Glamour: ★★★★☆. I like the fact it's not another black plastic gadget, but I can see the brushed stainless steel being a pain to keep fingerprint- and smudge-free.
  • Versatility: ★★★★☆. This machine can make frothed milk for various coffees as well as hot chocolate. It can only make one cup at a time, though.
  • Effortlessness: ★★★★★. It's a doddle to use, and clean-up is breezy.
  • Overall: ★★★★☆. This is a good looking gadget that looks to be the most versatile in terms of chocolate used to make drinks, as it can handle squares of chocolate and not just flakes.

Lavazza MilkUp Red Milk Frother

Lavazza MilkUp Red Milk Frother
Lavazza MilkUp Red Milk Frother (Photo credit to Lavazza)

Here's another red machine that'll either blend or jar with your kitchen décor. The machine, from Italian coffee wizards Lavazza, is noticeably bulkier than other gadgets on this list.

It is also slightly more complex to use. Instead of a paddle or whisk, the MilkUp comes with two 'crowns' and you'll need to use one or the other - or both - depending on what drink you want to make. It took me a few reads of the manual to work out that both are required to make hot chocolate, with the notched crown sitting inside the the smooth one. For hot chocolate, the machine can accept up to 180ml of milk, which is quite low given the machine's footprint. Needless to say it's one cup a time here.

Pop the lid on and start the machine. After about a minute, take the lid off while the machine is in action and add cocoa powder. There's no guidance on how much so you'll need to try various quantities to find the right blend for your favourite drink. I'd suggest starting with around 15g of Cadbury Drinking Chocolate° (or similar) to get an idea of blends. From there you could try making your own drinking chocolate by mixing cocoa powder with sugar, or try other drinking chocolate.

The machine cannot handle chocolate piece or flakes so don't be tempted to try this.

  • Gadget: The Lavazza MilkUp Milk Frother.
  • Chocolate needed: Cocoa powder or drinking chocolate.
  • Pros: It can froth milk, blend milk, and make hot chocolate.
  • Cons: Its design won't suit every kitchen; it's chunky; it can't handle chocolate other than in powdered form.
  • RRP: £59.99.

Lavazza MilkUp Milk Frother

See it at Lakeland

Ratings

  • Glamour: ★★☆☆☆. I'm not a fan of the red colour nor do I like the bulky size of this kitchen appliance.
  • Versatility: ★★☆☆☆. This is a milk frother and hot chocolate maker all-in-one, but it has a very small capacity and it can't handle chocolate in any larger form than powder.
  • Effortlessness: ★★★☆☆. The instructions are quite complicated, and to make hot chocolate, you need to remove the lid one minute into the operation to add the cocoa powder.
  • Overall: ★★☆☆☆. The red design might suit your kitchen, but the chief limitation that it can't handle flaked or cubed chocolate means this is limited solely to making cups of instant hot chocolate, one at a time.

Nespresso Barista

Nespresso Barista
Nespresso Barista (Photo credit to Nespresso)

There's an app for just about anything these days, and now there's an app to make you a classic hot chocolate. Seriously. The Nespresso Barista is the new Bluetooth-enabled kid on the block, and is designed to be paired with the Nespresso app for iOS or Android.

Barista appears to build on the form and style of the Aeroccino (which has such a delicate coating it can't be used with chocolate), and adds in the ability to load recipes in from the app. You can still use the sleek on-device touchscreen to select from a bank of 20 recipes if you don't want to (or can't) pair the device to your phone.

The machine appears to have been born out of the idea of creating a gadget to help with latte art. As such, Nespresso reckons its best paired with a Nespresso coffee pod machine, such as the Nespresso Essenza Mini Coffee Machine°, to get the most out of it. But for us chocoholics, all you need is the Barista. According to Nespresso, is more than capable of accepting squares of solid chocolate in making drinks (£7 for 40 squares (200g) at Nespresso). In fact, it can even handle ice cubes in recipes for iced beverages.

The jug, lid, whisk, and spoon are all dishwasher safe so clean-up is a doddle. Drinks take up to 4 minutes to make depending on the recipe, but bear in mind the gadget can only produce one cup at a time.

  • Gadget: The Nespresso Barista. Optionally pair with a Nespresso coffee pod machine to get the most out of it.
  • Chocolate needed: Nespresso reckons it can handle squares of chocolate bar with ease.
  • Pros: Effortless; it can be used as a milk frother or as a hot chocolate maker; it can make hot or cold drinks; it can handle cubes of chocolate; and it has Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Cons: It's pricey; and while it doesn't need the app to work, you'll get a better experience using it, so you'll need an Apple or Android mobile phone to hand.
  • RRP: £179.

Nespresso Barista

See it at Nespresso

Ratings

  • Glamour: ★★★★☆. I love the look of this machine, and the discreet integrated touchscreen.
  • Versatility: ★★★★☆. Craft a wide range of coffees using this machine that can happily cope with ice cubes and chocolate slabs thrown at it.
  • Effortlessness: ★★★★☆. It's a doddle to use, and clean-up is breezy as most parts are dishwasher-safe. The Bluetooth-connected app helps make crafting beverages easier too.
  • Overall: ★★★★☆. Every tech addict will want one of these devices in their kitchen. The Bluetooth-enabled hot chocolate machine is on the pricey side, but it has a bank of delicious-looking hot and cold coffee and chocolate recipes to work through.

Conclusions

So, to answer the original question, yes, kitchen gadgets can help make a good cup of hot chocolate. Compared to a saucepan or a microwave, some of these gadgets can make a smoother, richer, creamier, and more fulfilling cup of hot chocolate. Machines can produce consistently better froth than you or I can by whisking milk in a saucepan.

However, none of the gadgets above tick every one of my boxes. None of them allow you to vary the temperature to which the hot chocolate is heated to, and you don't need to look far on the Internet to find swathes of people like me who'd love their hot chocolate to be much hotter than these machines allow.

Quantity is a big issue for me, and the Gourmet Gadgetry option deserves to be applauded for creating a machine that you could reasonably get two cups of hot chocolate out of in one go.

Chocolate versatility is another key aspect. If I am investing money in a gadget to make hot chocolate, I want it to cope with more than cocoa powder or drinking chocolate powder. The Nespresso, and KRUPS machines score highly here, as they are all able to handle most chocolate forms thrown at them. The Hotel Chocolat, Dualit, Gourmet Gadgetry and Homgeek machines all deserve to be commended for at least supporting flaked chocolate and powders.

When it comes to looks, little beats the offerings from Hotel Chocolat and Nespresso. These are beautiful kitchen appliances that you'll want to show off.

The final important factor for me is cost, as I already own a saucepan and a microwave, so I need to justify the value of a new kitchen gadget. The Gourmet Gadgetry and Homgeek options are great value. At the other end of the spectrum are the gadgets by Hotel Chocolat, Nespresso, and KRUPS are the priciest options but also the best looking too. If you value style as much as function, these are the only options worth considering.

So, which one would I ultimately choose? My heart would instantly snap up the Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser° or the Nespresso Barista. Both are beautiful art forms that deliver on making good hot chocolate. My cost-conscious head would look at either the Dualit Milk Frother or the Homgeek Milk Frother° as both of these balance style and function with a very good price.

Here's a recap of the gadgets in this article.

ProductMakesFroths?ChocolateAroundRating
Saucepan and whiskSeveral cupsMinimalCan handle most typesFrom £30★★★
MicrowaveSeveral cupsNoAs fine as possibleFrom £40★★
The Chocolate Society Chocolate Shaker°1 cupMinimalCan handle most types£25★★★★
Dualit Milk Frother1 cupYesFlakes and powders£50★★★★
Gourmet Gadgetry Retro Diner Milk Frother2 cupsYesGrated blocks, flakes, or powders£37★★★★
Homgeek Milk Frother°1 cupYesFlakes and powders£34★★★★
Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser°1 cupYesFlakes£100★★★★
KRUPS XL2000 Automatic Milk Frother°1 cupYesCan handle most types£93★★★★
Lavazza MilkUp Red Milk Frother1 cupYesPowders£60★★
Nespresso Barista1 cupYesCan handle most types£179★★★★

Which is your favourite hot chocolate gadget? Why? Let me know in the comments below.

Disclosure: A special thanks to Rob Powell for allowing me to use his photos of his Duallit device in action. A special thanks also goes to the fab team at Hotel Chocolat in Bridgend who gave me a personal demonstration of the Velvetiser in the shop. Prices were correct at the time of publication but may have since changed. My opinions are my own.

2 Comments

  • The dualit milk frother explicitly says to not add hot chocolate powder into the machine? The website also says to add the milk to the cup?

    • The Dualit Milk Frother is designed to froth milk. This warmed milk can then be added to hot chocolate powder in a mug. As you can see above, Rob tried combining the two in his device, with good results. But I agree, it’s not the normal usage for this device. It’s more of a kitchen hack.

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