LA Burdick – The Ultimate Drinking Chocolate

This is my second major attempt with this wonderful chocolate!  I finally got it right this time.

I had to get through more than 2 pounds of the previous bag before I got it right on this one.  Note that I had a previous article here on the blog that details my first few attempts.

Let me start with the perfect recipe:

  • 1 Cup of LA Burdick Chocolate Shavings
  • 1/2 cup of boiling water
  • stir vigorously right away so nothing settles and all particles gets the immediate melt
  • re-heat in microwave for another 30 seconds

And there you go.  It will yield 1 full cup of perfect drinking chocolate.  I’ll have my ratings at the end.

From Drinking Chocolate

Ahh yes, sweet graphic design. I love it. I tried not to let the great packaging sway my opinion of the chocolate… although, it’s hard not to. Any company that would take this much time with the packaging is no doubt proud of their chocolate.

If you want to know more about the company, see more at

you can click to zoom in on any photo here

As you can see, the label (in a great font, btw), says to mix this with a mug of hot milk. Perhaps, for the faint of heart, a lesser man or woman might warm some milk and then mix in a few tablespoons of this. But that’s not drinking chocolate to me… That’s a weak hot chocolate.

Also, from the massive amount of reading and research I’ve done on chocolate of this type (I’m not kidding), it is really best to mix with water. Water keeps the chocolate taste as pure as possible to the original vision of the chocolate maker. Many of us have grown up with the normal method of mixing chocolate powder and milk. So, it’s been hard for me to get past these notions, but I’m making steady progress.

my tiny sampling cup – it goes through lots of abuse

Sometimes, when trying new recipes, I make a small espresso-cup full of the substance and try a few mixes. It’s better to mess up a small cup of chocolate… practice… get it right… before moving onto the main event.

a giant and amazing pile of shavings…waiting…

These are indeed “chocolate shavings”. They are feather-light and soft. If you are to take a few and press them between your fingers, they would almost disappear. So, they have this nice, light, etherial quality to them that is unique.

I’ve taken to measuring these things to put some science behind it all…

My previous mistakes were all, basically, adding too much water. With other recipes for other types of drinking chocolates, I’ve added about equal parts chocolate and boiling water. In this case, the winning mix is 1 cup of chocolate shavings and only 1/2 a cup of water. Can you imagine? Yes, it’s true… It’s almost as heretical as having a big can of Nestle Quik chocolate powder and filling it half-full with milk, and then mixing!

But, as strange as it sounds, adding half as much boiling water as the amount of chocolate is the key.

pouring in the boiling water

When mixing in the boiling water, you have to be fast. Stir it quickly so that all the shavings get the fast-melt. Otherwise, you end up with a few chunky bits down at the bottom. While that’s not the end of the world and is a nice little rich treat at the end, there is a bit more elegance in having the whole thing be smooth and thick.

the start of the pour

I have gotten into the habit of mixing in one and pouring into the final cup. This keeps my final cup cleaner, and makes for a more thorough mix. Plus, it’s how the pros do it… and they must do it for a reason.

Can it get more thick and perfect? I think not. This is living.

Ahh… and look at that… how nice, thick, and amazing does that look above? As far as I can tell, it’s the perfect recipe.

I felt extremely decadent while drinking it. Perfectly thick, smooth, and with a taste that stayed with me for a long time after the sips. I don’t know what else could have been better.

There also was that perfect amount of “spicy-aftertaste” in the throat. I don’t really like calling it “spicy”, because that indicates sort of a “hot”, burning spicy flavor. But it is not. It’s more of a cinnamon that tickles the throat in a delightful and sophisticated manner.

Final Analysis:

This is the best drinking chocolate I’ve ever made at home.  Despite what the package says, do not mix it with milk.  It alters the flavor and is already milk-chocolatey in taste.

  • Taste 9/10
  • Scent 9/10
  • Parting Feeling 9/10
  • Spice Chaser – 10/10 perfect for me  (which means that it is not TOO spicy or TOO mild.  The cinnamon tickle stays in your throat for a good 30 minutes or so, reminding you of the ultimate experience

Vintage Chocolate Ads

I saw these vintage chocolate ads today…. sent out a Tweet (@TreyRatcliff)

Click on the image below to see more!

“Grand Lait” Pastilles from Michel Cluizel French Chocolate

These chocolates come from Michael Cluizel, who is apparently an authentic Frenchman.

I automatically give a +2 to Magical Chocolate to anyone that hails from Europe. France gets a +3. So does Switzerland.

According, to the website:

Michel Cluizel has been making chocolate in the southern Normandy region of France to an exclusively high standard, in the French chocolate making tradition, since 1948.

The final creation, after the fifth attempt!

So, I received two kinds of drinking chocolate from Michel Cluizel. The first one I tried are the “Grand Lait” pastilles.

The bag it arrived in. Looks like NASA dropped it from space (with no instructions, mind you).

Now, I had many Failed Attempts in making this. Note, that we can blame all of this on me, and not the chocolate.

Problems with Making Drinking Chocolate

It’s not easy. I’m not a chef. I’ve never been a barista or a bartender. I’m not even sure what the word barista means, except I assume it involves some sort of expertise with complex-looking steampunk machines.

Here are many thoughts in and around the problems of making drinking chocolate:

  • - It’s not as easy as making Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa.  Banish that thought immediately.
  • - Drinking Chocolates usually come “dry” in many forms.  It can be like a dust, little nuggets, a liquid, big nuggets, discs, mini-discs.  It’s all different!
  • - I have no special equipment for making this stuff.
  • - I am afraid I am too lazy to use a sauce pan and melt things slowly and properly.  I may change this in coming years.  But, I prefer to use a microwave.
  • - The experts say (according to the many books I have read) that you should use Water instead of Milk.  Water keeps the taste more pure.
  • - The “Thickness” of the final liquid is the most important thing for me to achieve.  One little mistake in the preparation can make it too thick (so you have to eat it with a spoon) or too thin and watery.
  • - Most of the time, these finer drinking chocolates either come with no instructions, or the instructions don’t make sense to me.

First attempt – Total but sweet Failure

I mixed the tiny pucks with water then microwaved it.  This created an awful mess that is too embarassing to describe.  The cup looked like an entire kindergarten class had used it to clean their paintbrushes.  It was a total disaster.

But it still tasted good.  Hey, it’s chocolate.

Second attempt – Continued sweet Failure

I tried the same thing as before, but with milk.  This also created a massive disaster inside the microwave.  It makes me feel as incompetent as I really am, and I don’t like that.  Whenever possible, I like to fool myself into thinking that I actually know what is going on.

It still tasted good.  I could not tell much difference with the milk.

The other 55% I guess is a mystery? Probably milk, yes.

Third attempt – Massive but amazing Failure

I tried putting in less water and put the whole concoction in the microwave.  This time, it did not boil over and make a mess… but, it was way too thick to drink. I kept the cup at a raw vertical and it hardly moved. It was awesome, and scary. Like an upcoming ice-tea avalanche of chocolate.

So I had to use the spoon to eat it all. It was rich… wow so rich. Good thing I can take it. The chocolate was still very good… dare I compare it to Nestle’s chips? Maybe this is what you are picturing if you have never had it. But it is not like that… it is a more sophisticated taste. Still rich as all hell, but interesting and nice. I could not get away from the idea that I was eating this chocolate with a spoon. It’s like I was working late at an ice cream store when no one was looking, and I started eating out of the hot fudge dispenser. It was pretty hard core.

I tried, in my mind to think that drinking very thick hot chocolate is only a shade of grey from eating super-thick hot chocolate with a spoon. But there IS a difference. It’s the difference between a very fast walk and a jog. Perhaps it’s “having two feet in the air” that makes jogging feel a lot different than walking fast. And so it is with drinking chocolate. I think it actually has to flow like a liquid. Has to enter the mouth like a tiny river of awesomeness, and swirl about, hitting new taste nerves in unexpected and free-flowing eddies.

When I was done, I had to go drink a cup of milk to keep from going clinically insane.

Fourth attempt – Very thick and awesome

This time I put a bit of science into it.

  1. - I filled a measuring cup with one cup of the pastilles.  I then left those inside the final nice-looking drinking cup.
  2. - I filled the same measuring cup (now empty) with 1 cup of water.
  3. - I boiled the water in the microwave.
  4. - I poured the boiling water on top of the chips.   And then stirred.
  5. - It wasn’t quite hot enough, so I nuked it another 30 seconds.

This turned out really well!  It was not “chunky” at all… but smooth.  The only problem was that it was SUPER thick.  Now, I like my drinking chocolate thick, but this was so thick that there was quite a delayed response after tipping the cup.  The more it cooled, the thicker it got.

I finally putting the chips alone in the final drinking cup before adding the boiling water.

Fifth attempt – Just about perfect consistency

This time, I did about the same thing as above, but added a little too much water.  However, for most people, it might be just about perfect.  I like it a little bit thicker.  You can see photos from this fifth attempt below:

  1. - Added 1/2 a cup of chips to a measuring cup.  Then I added that to my yellow drinking cup.
  2. - Added 2/3 a cup of water to the measuring cup then boiled.
  3. - Poured the water into the yellow cup.  You can see the chips below the water level in the photo below.
  4. - Stirred until they were all mixed.
  5. - Microwaved another 20 seconds so it was hot enough again

<h2>Final Score</h2>

I do not give this lower marks because it took me so long to make it well… I blame myself for that.  However, once I did have it right, it was still a good cup of drinking chocolate, but only a shade better than melted Nestle’s chips.  The chocolate had a slightly more sophisticated taste, but nothing that really blew me away.  Also, I do tend to like that little cinnamon taste in the end that chases the chocolate down your throat.  Of course, I can add that on my own later.

  • Taste 3/5
  • Spice:  2/5 – Hardly any… a slight linger.
  • Scent:  3/5 – smells like good milk chocolate
  • Best way to make:  1 cup of chips. 1.1 cups of water. Boil water. Mix water into chips. Stir. Microwave for another 20 secs. Stir again.


1/2 a cup of the pastilles... measuring and doing my best to be scientific about it...

Adding the boiling water to the pastilles...

After adding 2/3 a cup of boiling water to 1/2 a cup of pastilles. It mixed to a good consistency.

Pretty thick eh? it was not quite as thick as this makes it look.

LA Burdick Drinking Chocolate

Here we go with a discussion of the very tasteful-looking and tasty LA Burdick Drinking Chocolate. You can get more information at

Came in a weighty paper bag with an amazing label.  It looked like it had been designed by the East India Trading Company.  I’m always a sucker for good graphic design…  it makes me think that the people behind it really do care about a full-on customer experience.

From Drinking Chocolate

Besides, the label, the bag is a few pounds and has a solid heft to it.  It feels like it will provide many nights of good drinking chocolate.

According to Burdick’s website:

Burdick’s Hot Chocolate is a balanced blend of Caribbean & South American shaved chocolate with a 68-75% cocoa content. Its flavor and richness is reminiscent of the intense, polished drinking chocolate experienced in European Cafés.

Ahhh that sounds good… who doesn’t like a European Cafe?

I started by pouring the “shavings”, as the directions say, into a small espresso cup.  This is my “testing cup”.  My “drinking cup” is a huge vessel that is reported to have a slight undertow.

As you can see, the gains are fine and dusty-brown in color.  They feel very light and slide and tumble over one another easily.

The directions say to add “near scalding milk”, so I decided to make that.  Using whole milk, I attempted to make it “near scalding”.  This is a very hard goal to achieve.  It’s like when you visit a friend and they say, “Turn two miles before the bridge.”

Getting milk hot is always a bit of a problem.  This is probably because I am fairly lazy and use the microwave whenever possible.  It boiled over after about a minute, created an awful mess, but was certainly “near scalding”.

I then added a bit of milk to the cup, and it immediately turned to full liquid.  Very thin liquid, in fact.  The chocolate shavings seemed to be mostly air.  This surprised me a bit, I suppose.  The cup was so full of chocolate, I expected there was very little room for liquid.  But as it poured in, it sank down to the bottom, like water through light gravel.  This isn’t the end of the world.  It’s quite the first world problem.  But, it was unexpected, nonetheless.

I drank it down.  Very good!  A sweet taste that felt thicker than it looked.  It was a full, rich chocolate and I was impressed.  After, there was a tangible feeling of cinnamon in my throat.  This is a lasting gift of spice that I’ve grown to expect with drinking chocolates.  It is one of many things that make them different than a mere hot cocoa.

So I filled another espresso cup with the choco-dust.  I tried to make more milk and it boiled over once again.  What a pain.  It blows up over the top of the cup very quickly, even though the cup was only 1/4 full.  Anyway, I had some hot milk left over.

I poured in a little bit at a time.  I wanted to get it to the point where the liquid was as thick as possible.  I did, and I noticed that the total volume of the cup was about one half it was when it was just the shavings.  So, it is mostly air.  This is not necessarily a problem, it’s just the way it is.

But what that does mean is you have to pour a ton of chocolate dust into a cup to get a decent quantity.  You quickly feel like quite the glutton.  Not that I mind that.

Another problem was that the drink was not terribly hot.  There was not enough milk to heat up all the shavings.  To get truly hot, the whole thing would need to go into the microwave for a bit.

Now it was time for the main event.  I filled my redonko-mug with more shavings and decided to add boiling water.  Forget the milk.  There was so little milk in the final cup, that I felt it did not matter if water was used.  And I was right.  It still tasted the same with water, which is a lot easier to boil.

My mega-cup was full and satisfying.  I put in a bit more water than necessary, so it did not appear as thick as I expected.  But, again, it tasted much thicker than I expected.  The cinnamon taste in my throat lasted for a good 20 minutes after drinking it through.

  • Taste 8/10
  • Spice:  9/10 – Not too strong, but lasting and there
  • Scent:  8/10
  • Best way to make:  Overfill the cup, add a small amount of boiling water until desired thickness]

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