Lately, there's been a trend towards creating electrical hot chocolate gadgets including Hotel Chocolat's Velvetiser. But the Chocolate Society have gone down a different route and created what it reckons is "the world's best hot chocolate maker ever".
What is the Hot Chocolate Shaker?
Two years of development - with many failures along the way - has led to the Hot Chocolate Shaker. Unlike protein shakers, the Hot Chocolate Shaker can withstand the high temperatures of hot milk and features a pressure release cap to avoid potentially dangerous hot chocolate explosions.
Made in the UK, the Hot Chocolate Shaker features a double-walled beaker (to avoid burning your hands), and a pressure release lid (to avoid liquid explosions). The Tritan shatter-proof plastic is free from industrial chemical BPA (bisphenol), and is both dishwasher- and microwave-safe.
How to use the Hot Chocolate Shaker
- Press the pressure release lid down to reset the device. This is important to allow room for thermal expansion of the trapped air inside the device.
- Pop in some chocolate. The Hot Chocolate Shaker can handle powder, flakes, and chunks. My advice would be to try and make the chocolate as fine as possible, particularly if you are using a block of chocolate, to reduce the amount of shaking you'll need to do.
- Add in hot milk. You can also use dairy alternatives, or even plain water (vegan hot chocolate anyone?). Whichever liquid you choose, it cannot be boiling hot.
- Affix the lid, then shake the kitchen gadget until the milk and chocolate emulsify.
Why buy a Hot Chocolate Shaker?
The Chocolate Society's Head Chocolatier Al Garnsworthy identified that in too many bad hot chocolates, the chocolate separates from the milk and sinks to the bottom of the cup. That's one of my pet peeves too.
Garnsworthy noted that the advice of making a chocolate paste with milk and hot chocolate powder before adding the remainder of the milk just doesn't cut it. I'd agree as I've lost count of the times I've followed these instructions to the letter with disappointing results.
The science behind the Hot Chocolate Shaker is that it emulsifies the milk and chocolate so you get a smooth hot chocolate. Stirring alone doesn't create enough friction to create the emulsification whereas shaking does.
So, you get an arm work-out and a smooth hot chocolate to enjoy afterwards.
The other great aspect of this gadget is that you can experiment with liquids and chocolates. You can make vegan hot chocolate, for instance, or try a range of single origin bean-to-bar chocolates in liquid form. You're in control of the density of hot chocolate by altering the amount of chocolate versus liquid in the Shaker. You can also enhance your hot chocolate by adding alcohol, herbs, and spices to the party.
In the suggestions from The Chocolate Society, they blend whisky or Irish cream liqueur with chocolate into milk, chocolate into water, and even blend a Cadbury Creme Egg° into milk to make an actual Creme Egg Hot Chocolate.
I like the concept, and would love to taste the results. However, I have some concerns as a consumer.
The videos on the project's Kickstarter page don't reveal how much shaking is truly necessary to create a smooth emulsion. In one video, Garnsworthy claims it "takes seconds". In reality, it looks to come down to the size of the chocolate pieces used. If you have limited mobility in your arms, you may struggle with this gadget.
I'd like to know how long the hot chocolate can sit in a mug before separating back out, if it does at all. An emulsion, in this case, is simply a stabilised mixture of liquid (milk or water) and molten chocolate, and there's a chance that the emulsion could break as the chocolate cools. I'd like to believe it would take significantly longer to break than it takes me to drink the hot chocolate.
As with my biggest concerns with many hot chocolate gadgets, this gadget can only make one cup at a time, and there's extra washing-up involved. The one-at-a-time issue can't be overcome unless The Chocolate Society produces a double-depth Hot Chocolate Shaker after this project reaches its Kickstarter goal.
The extra washing-up issue may well be overcome by the microwave-safe claim. I'd need to read the instructions but based on the information on the Kickstarter website, I theoretically should be able to heat the milk directly in the Shaker's beaker using a microwave, before adding the chocolate and shaking it up.
In Version 2, I'd love to see a bigger size but I'd also like to see an electronic shaker base that this beaker clips into. At the press of the button, it does the shaking on my behalf, much in the same way paint mixers work in DIY stores. I believe this would make the product both more accessible and more convenient.
Where to buy a Hot Chocolate Shaker?
Right now it is only available on crowdfunding website, Kickstarter. It reached half its £10,000 funding goal in 24 hours, which is seriously impressive, and demonstrates that there are plenty of people out there that believe there has to be a better way to making good hot chocolate at home.
The early-bird price was £10 for a Hot Chocolate Shaker and hot chocolate sample. At the time of writing, the cheapest option for a Hot Chocolate Shaker is £12, but that will soon rise to £15.
Have you backed the Hot Chocolate Shaker project? Let me know if you did or didn't - and why - in the comments below.