During the colder months, Trader Joe’s stocks some special products for a limited time. While TJ’s, which is a cousin to Aldi, doesn’t run weekly specials like Aldi does, some of their products do have seasonal themes. You’ll see sparkling strawberry juice and watermelon juice during the summer, Harvest Blend Herbal Tea and Maple Espresso Black Tea in the fall, fresh turkeys around Thanksgiving, and hams during Easter.
One popular seasonal item at Trader Joe’s is sipping chocolate. Is sipping chocolate just another name for hot chocolate or hot cocoa, you might ask?
It turns out, while many people consider “hot chocolate” and “hot cocoa” to be the same thing, there is a difference. Hot cocoa typically uses cocoa powder, some kind of milk or dairy powder, sugar, and various flavorings or spices. Meanwhile, hot chocolate, also known as sipping chocolate or drinking chocolate, is made from small pieces of chocolate melted down, with sometimes some milk or cream and sugar added in.
Sipping chocolate is rich with bitter notes, like drinking dark chocolate. It’s popular in Europe, where it’s often enjoyed in smaller serving sizes compared to hot cocoa because it is so rich. You just don’t need a lot to get that chocolatey satisfaction.
And during the cooler months, you can get that chocolate fix from Trader Joe’s.
Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate Flavored Cocoa Mix cost $4.99 for a 9-ounce container at the time of publication. I purchased this from my local store in the spring, and I was surprised to see it then. It may be an example of the kinds of shipping challenges and delays retailers everywhere are dealing with.
The container states:
Not quite a hot cocoa. Hardly chocolate milk. Oh no. This is a chocolate experience meant to be sipped and savored … a European style delight. One taste of our Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate Cocoa Mix and you may feel like you’ve been whisked away to a sidewalk bistro in Rome or Barcelona. This decadent chocolate elixir has been crafted in the European style using only the finest ingredients. Immerse your taste buds in this rich bittersweet chocolate flavor. Simply add milk or water to enjoy this velvety smooth sipping chocolate cocoa mix at home.
Ingredients are sugar, cocoa processed with alkali, natural flavor, and salt. If you’re looking out for allergens, this may contain milk. The mix is kosher.
One container has about nine servings, and a single 3-tablespoon serving has 110 calories, 1.5 grams of total fat (2% DV), 1 gram of saturated fat (5% DV), 25 mg of sodium (1% DV), 23 grams of total carbohydrates (8% DV), and 15 grams of added sugars (30% DV).
To prepare 1/2 cup of sipping chocolate, stir 3 tablespoons of the mix into 1/3 cup of hot milk. Or, the package says to prepare 1 cup of decadent hot chocolate, stir 3 tablespoons of mix into 3/4 cup of hot milk and add sugar to taste.
The instructions recommend not overheating the milk as it may scald. Whole milk will provide the creamiest texture. Water or non-dairy beverages may be used as a milk substitute.
I tried making this both ways, as sipping chocolate and as hot chocolate. I measured out some whole milk from Aldi into mugs and heated the milk in the microwave (about 45 seconds for 1/3 cup of milk for the sipping chocolate, and about 1 minute for 3/4 cup of milk for the hot chocolate). The sipping chocolate is a smaller serving, so use a mug that isn’t too large.
Both of these drinks were about what I expected. The sipping chocolate is rich, bittersweet, and thick. It takes a while to stir it into a small mug of milk and get it to fully dissolve. It also leaves a thick chocolate coating on the sides of the mug. It reminds me a bit of espresso, with its concentrated nature that packs a punch in a smaller serving.
The hot chocolate is still quite rich and bittersweet, so don’t confuse this with those packets of hot cocoa at the grocery store. It also took a good amount of stirring to get the mix fully dissolved.
I glanced at some comments in Trader Joe’s social media communities and found that TJ’s fans enjoy this sipping chocolate in some different ways besides just how the tin suggests. Some people said they stir a spoonful into their coffee for an indulgent drink. Others said they use less sipping chocolate mix and more milk to help tone down the bitterness. As the package suggests, you can also add sugar or other sweeteners, although with 15 grams of added sugar in 3 tablespoons of mix, you’ll want to be aware of how much sugar you’re adding.
Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate Flavored Cocoa Mix is not like hot chocolate you’re accustomed to. This drink is popular in Europe and consists of rich melted dark chocolate. It has bitter notes and is thick and very indulgent, and a little goes a long way. If you’re looking for a sophisticated chocolate drink, try this.