During lockdown I treated myself to a Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser, a hot chocolate machine which promises barista-grade hot chocolate at home. With a £99.95 price tag it’s very much a luxury item but with all coffee shops, cafes and restaurants closed it became a more justifiable spend.
With a rush of excitement I popped it in my basket and prayed to the chocolate gods that I hadn’t just bought the world’s most overpriced whisk!
I’ll get straight to the point, for me it’s an emphatic yes! I adore my Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser to the point that cosying up under a blanket with a book and a mint hot chocolate has become a daily ritual.
With that being said, if the questions and comments I’ve received on social media are anything to go by, some of you might be expecting different results to what it actually delivers.
Ultimately it comes down to personal preference and it is a big investment, so read on to find out more about what the Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser does and why I love mine. I’ll let you make your own judgement on whether to add it to your list for Santa!
The Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser machine is a bit like a mini kettle, but a mightily attractive high end version that commands pride of place in your kitchen. It’s engineered by Dualit and certainly looks the part.
The main jug comes in 3 colours which are all extremely aesthetically pleasing. I purchased the Matt Charcoal edition but it also comes in Shiny Copper and Gloss White. The machine feels sleek and reassuringly weighty with an inside of smooth stainless steel. The jug sits on top of a black gloss base that plugs into the mains.
The whisk comes in a separate part. It’s magnetic and locks into place inside the machine with a satisfying snap. This ensures that it doesn’t fall out when you pour. The lid is transparent which adds to the fun as you can watch the magic happen as it swirls the chocolate around.
Also included in the box are two ceramic white podcups which again feel high quality and look good on display. I’m guessing that due to their thickness they are also designed to maintain the temperature of your hot chocolate for longer.
When I purchased my machine I also received a free selection box of their hot chocolate sachets. I can’t see that these are currently included so keep an eye out for special offers. It’s also worth signing up to Hotel Chocolat’s VIP.me loyalty scheme which gives you access to both online and instore discounts and rewards which could help towards the initial cost.
This is the really easy part! You’ll need:
Snap the whisk in place, pour in your milk of choice up to the ‘Fill’ line and then add your chocolate. It’s important to do it in this order to avoid flakes of chocolate getting stuck at the bottom.
All that’s left to do at this point is switch it on using the button on the side. In 2 and a half minutes your drink is ready to serve. It really is that simple!
Hotel Chocolat recommend that you rinse out the jug with cold water in between if you make more than one at a time. This helps bring the device back to the correct starting temperature so that you get a consistent taste and texture in each cup. It’s a minor inconvenience.
The advice from Hotel Chocolat is clear: The machine is designed with scientific precision so for the best results follow the instructions to the letter! They have, however, brought out a few recipes on the website including an adults only boozy hot chocolate and how to make an iced version for Summer. This tells me that there’s room for careful experimentation with different ingredients, as long as you stick to the basic principles.
There are two ways to do this.
Very important: Never submerge any part of it (other than the whisk) in water!
Let’s talk about the all important bit: What is a Velvetiser hot chocolate actually like?
When you buy a hot chocolate from the Hotel Chocolat cafe it’s usually so thick and rich that it’s like drinking pure melted chocolate. The Velvetiser doesn’t replicate this. Based upon the recommended flake to milk ratio, the consistency is much more milky. This was my boyfriend’s main complaint when he first tried one. Personally, I enjoy my hot chocolate this way. We have, however, also discovered another brand of chocolate shavings that gives a chocolatey texture more to Oliver’s liking, which I’ve detailed below.
What the Velvetiser does really well is give the milk a super smooth (dare I say ‘velvety?!’) consistency with a sumptuous foam that I don’t think is easily replicated by hand. It’s also a much quicker, hassle free way of preparing a hot chocolate compared to the stove.
Flavour wise there are plenty of options to choose from. Not all are suitable for vegans but there is clear labelling to guide you on dietary requirements.
I’ve tried all of the vegan editions and mint chocolate is a clear winner for me.
The chilli flavour is a close second. It only gives a slight hint of spice but the warmth builds as you drink it. It’s perfect for chilly evenings.
All of the vegan varieties are made with at least 70% dark chocolate, other than the nutmilk edition. Therefore whilst the texture is more milky than the store bought version, the rich flavour still sings through. Again it comes down to personal preference but I prefer the more robust, slightly bitter taste of a good dark hot chocolate.
As per Hotel Chocolat’s website, the Velvetiser has been calibrated to serve at the best temperature for flavour. This is up to 68 – 70 degrees Centigrade. Some of you might prefer your drink hotter than the Velvetiser will deliver.
Hotel Chocolat state that you should stick to using their flakes. The reason for this appears to be two fold:
Therefore technically there’s nothing stopping you from making your own chocolate flakes/shavings using other brands as long as you keep the above in mind.
The sachets themselves aren’t exactly cheap either. For a pack of 10 single serves you’ll pay £13, but remember to factor in postage too if buying online. Whilst £1.30 per hot chocolate is less than you’d pay in store, you’re likely to drink these more often. Thus the ongoing costs can soon mount up.
A reduced selection of the flavours is available in 250g tubs for £9. At 7 servings per tub the cost saving is marginal (about 7p per cup) and you have the inconvenience of needing to measure it out each time. However using the tubs does at least reduce packaging.
However, popular editions regularly go out of stock so sometimes you have to get creative!
I’m currently using Callebaut Dark Belgian Chocolate which you buy in a 1kg tub. It works out much cheaper per cup: www.amazon.co.uk/Callebaut.
I can make my own version of a mint hot chocolate by adding a few drops of peppermint essence. I’ve also just discovered that I can make a chocolate orange version with orange essence which is so Christmassy!
Just be careful if using alternative chocolate to ensure that it is ground fine enough. Depending upon what you use, you might need to pop it in a food processor or blender to grind it down. It’s extra faff, but that’s better than risking your machine.
If you’ve been umming and ahing over whether to treat yourself I hope that my review helps you to make your decision. If you do buy one, I’d love to hear what you think!