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Hotel Chocolat Pumpkin Spice vs Apple Pie Hot Chocolate – Which Is Better?

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Winter is upon us, and so it's time for many to whip out the hot chocolates once again. For some of us, we're on a steady diet of hot chocolate anyway, so winter is more about finding warming, comforting flavours of hot chocolate instead as we countdown to Christmas.

Hotel Chocolat's Pumpkin Spice Drinking Chocolate has been on my radar forever, and so this year I made it a mission to grab a box - the last box on the shelf I might add. But another seasonal flavour caught my eye too, promising the taste of a freshly baked apple pie in a hot chocolate format.

Both flavours proved exceptionally popular for Hotel Chocolat in October and November, so I thought it might be quite fun to compare them to see which limited edition flavour is best - apples or pumpkins?


Packaging

Both boxes come in almost identical boxes, with the colour band being the most noticeable difference. Orange denotes pumpkin spice while a pale green denotes the apple pie option.

Hotel Chocolat Pumpkin Spice vs Apple Pie Hot Chocolate
Hotel Chocolat Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie Hot Chocolate boxes

The top of the box displays the Hotel Chocolat logo and product name, while graphics of liquid chocolate wrap down the side.

The front of the boxes list a more detailed description of the flavour.

The base of the box lists the ingredients and nutritional information. It mentions these sachets are for use with Hotel Chocolat's Velvetiser but also suggests using a whisk to melt these chocolate flakes into 220ml of warm (not boiling) dairy or plant milk. I don't have the counter-top space for a beautiful copper Velvetiser so I use my Chocolate Shaker by The Chocolate Society to make my hot chocolate, achieving similar results through a light workout.

The chocolate flakes may contain traces of tree nuts, peanuts, gluten, wheat, egg and sesame. They are alcohol-free and are suitable for vegetarians. Both are made in the UK with West African cocoa.

Inside both boxes, there are ten 35g single serve sachets, ideal for making ten mugs of hot chocolate. Unlike the outer box, the sachets are not recyclable.

The sachets are perfectly portioned for the Velvetiser and for a mug of hot chocolate. The rear of the sachets lists some steps you can follow to make a hot chocolate or an iced chocolate drink, should you wish a cooler alternative.

For my taste tests below, I used one sachet to 220ml of semi-skimmed moo juice (dairy milk).


Hotel Chocolat Limited Edition Apple Pie Hot Chocolate Sachets Review

Hotel Chocolat Limited Edition Apple Pie Hot Chocolate ingredients:
Cocoa solids (cocoa butter, cocoa mass), sugar, full cream milk powder, apple powder (7%) (apple concentrate, maltodextrin, emulsifier (acacia gum)), skimmed milk powder, caramelised sugar, flavouring, emulsifier (sunflower lecithin). Caramel milk chocolate: cocoa solids: 36% minimum; milk solids: 26% minimum.

  • Flavour: Baked apple and pastry notes in a caramel milk chocolate.
  • Sugars: 48.7% (excluding the milk)

The aroma is uncannily like an apple pie. There's apple at the forefront, with buttery caramel notes in there, and a sweet, creamy chocolatey undertone. There's a hint of acidity in the fray. I don't pick up pastry notes though, as this aroma is more caramelised apple than apple pie.

Made up, the hot chocolate is unusually pale in colour, a resembles a grey-tan than a rich chocolatey brown that I expected - more white chocolate than milk chocolate. The hot aroma tones down too, with a the buttery, caramel apple notes present but less vibrant. It no longer smells as sweet, too.

The flavour is that of baked apple pie. There's a buttery edge to the apples and the caramel notes have mellowed to mimic flaky pastry. There's little in the way of chocolate notes though. Perhaps a darker milk chocolate base or a dark chocolate altogether would have added the depth and richness I crave, and would perhaps tone down the crazy levels of sweetness in this drink.

In its mission to create an apple pie flavoured hot drink, Hotel Chocolat has succeeded. Is it comforting? Yes. Does it taste like the real deal? Yes. Is it satisfying? Nearly. Would I buy it again? Probably.

Hotel Chocolat Limited Edition Apple Pie Hot Chocolate Sachets Review

RRP: £13.50 | Hotel Chocolat | Shop now

For a mug of apple pie, look no further. As a hot chocolate, it nails the apple pie flavour but lacks the cocoa flavours us hot chocolate addicts seek. It's very pale in colour, and very sweet. A darker and richer chocolate base would make this one a must-buy.

Packaging
Appearance
Ingredients
Taste
Creativity
Score: 4

Hotel Chocolat Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate Sachets Review

Hotel Chocolat Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate ingredients:
Cocoa solids (cocoa butter, cocoa mass), sugar, full cream milk powder, ground cinnamon (2%), flavourings including pumpkin spice, skimmed milk powder, ginger powder, caramelised sugar, emulsifiers (soya lecithin, sunflower lecithin), natural colour (paprika extract). Milk chocolate: cocoa solids: 40% minimum; milk solids: 20% minimum. Caramel milk chocolate: cocoa solids: 36% minimum; milk solids: 26% minimum.

    • Flavour: Creamy caramel milk chocolate with warming notes of cinnamon, ginger and spiced pumpkin.
    • Sugars: 47% (excluding the milk)

There's no denying that cinnamon and ginger are the star of the show here. The pungent duo are at the forefront of both the aroma and taste.

Tearing open the sachet, the spices are heady along with a sweet undertone. The fragrance reminds me of a heavily spiced fruit cake.

The addition of milk to make the hot chocolate doesn't weaken this at all, and the two spices hijack the flavour. They're very forceful, to the point at which I'd say they're too strong. It's less 'pumpkin spice' and more an endurance test with cinnamon and ginger as drill instructors.

I'm not a fan of the gritty texture either. I had to leave some at the end to avoid a mouthful of raw spices.

As with the Apple Pie hot chocolate, the chocolate flavours are masked (it too is rather pale, but noticeably less so than the Apple Pie one). The effect is that this drink is probably closer to a milky Chai tea than a pumpkin spice hot chocolate.

Perhaps I expected too much from this hot chocolate, but it's not my favourite, and quite honestly, I'd rank it near the bottom of the Hotel Chocolat range. A darker based might make a difference, but the spices need toning down drastically too.

This surprises me as I thought this flavour, a seasonal staple, would have been a sure fire winner.

Is it comforting? Not really. It tastes like I'm being attacked by two spicy ninjas. Does it taste like the real deal (and like it or not, I think we're comparing it to Starbucks' PSL here)? No. It's more heavily spiced fruit cake than pumpkin spice latte. Is it satisfying? No. It feels like an effort to drink it. Would I buy it again? Nope.

Hotel Chocolat Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate Sachets Review

RRP: £13.50 | Hotel Chocolat | Shop now

If you love cinnamon and ginger a lot, you'll probably enjoy this. If you're seeking a comforting taste of an authentic pumpkin spice, I don't think you'll find it here. For me, the chocolate needs to be darker and the spicing toning down substantially.

Packaging
Appearance
Ingredients
Taste
Creativity
Score: 3.2

Which is Best, and Where to Buy Online

I had expected Pumpkin Spice hot chocolate to win hands down as it comes back year after year, but I found it unbalanced, with a lack of cocoa flavour and way too much spicing.

The Apple Pie hot chocolate is a very good start, and has nailed the flavour I expected, but it needs a richer chocolate base to add back in the cocoa notes and tone down that unabated sweetness.

Out of the two, I'll happily finish the box of Apple Pie Hot Chocolate Sachets but will struggle to polish off the Hotel Chocolat Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate Sachets. The tasting experience feels more hard work than fun, which defeats the point of a hot chocolate.

If you fancy giving these flavours a go, you can buy the Hotel Chocolat Pumpkin Spice Hot Chocolate Sachets here (£13.50) and the Hotel Chocolat Limited Edition Apple Pie Hot Chocolate Sachets here (£13.50).

Limited stocks are available in store. If you can't find them, head here for the full range of hot chocolate pouches and sachets.

Pumpkin spice or apple pie - which would you choose? Let me know in a comment below.

Disclosure: I purchased two 350g boxes of hot chocolate sachets from Hotel Chocolat for £27. I was not asked for a review. My opinions are my own.

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