How we discovered that shaking a hot chocolate is just so. much. better.
It was two years ago that we realised we had to “shake up” hot chocolate (pardon the pun), when we were fed up of being served below average hot chocolate. We love chocolate and just knew there had to be a way for it to be miles more delicious that what we were being served.
The problem we identified was that the chocolate, would often settle at the bottom of the cup and form a sort of sludge. With the majority of the chocolate being left in the cup once we’d finished our drinks, we realised that this chocolate added nothing to the flavour of the drink and it also meant you had to use more chocolate per cup to try to achieve flavour.
Being chocolatiers, we know the secret to great ganaches and caramels is to bind and emulsify the chocolate with the cream, it became obvious that this was what was needed to also make a great hot chocolate. However, it was clear that at the time this wasn’t achievable through the “stir the chocolate with a little hot milk to create a paste” instruction which seemed to come along with all hot chocolate. This method simply did not emulsify the chocolate with the hot liquid.
Once we had understood this, we were then faced with the challenge of why? Why doesn’t it emulsify? This was essential to finding a solution. With our knowledge as chocolatiers, I quickly realised that the difficulty was down to not being able to create enough friction in the mug between the chocolate and hot liquid through stirring. When there is a lack of friction, it result in a failed emulsion and the chocolate and hot liquid separate and the chocolate falls to the bottom of the cup, leaving the sludge.
We started looking at how emulsions were created in other foods and quickly found similarities between how to make a good salad dressing, and how to overcome emulsifying the vinegar and olive oil. The most common way we found was to shake it! This made me think, why don't we shake a hot chocolate?
Unfortunately, the tests didn't go too well and it resulted in the shakers exploding and a hot chocolate mess all up our kitchen walls. I did notice though that the exploded hot chocolate looked surprisingly smooth and well emulsified! I couldn't understand why when I shook a cold liquid that the shakers would not explode but when I shook a hot liquid they exploded.
This set us up for more research, when we quickly came across the science of thermal expansion. This is when something changes it's shape/area/volume when exposed to a change in temperature. This is what was happening in the shakers - the air trapped in the shakers would warm, due to the hot milk/water, expand in volume and create a pressure resulting in a hot chocolate explosion!
Not deterred, we started to think, what if the shaker expanded when the air expanded in volume to accommodate this pressure and the idea for the hot chocolate shaker was born!
It's been two years of research and development and a lot of hot chocolates drunk later, and we’re incredibly so proud of the product we have created. The Hot Chocolate Shaker is so simple to use and it makes the quickest, most delicious hot chocolate we have ever tasted.
The most exciting part of the whole project is how the Hot Chocolate Shaker is a vehicle for creativity. We’ve experimented with countless different types of chocolate, percentages and origins, added alcohol and even infused herbs and spices into our hot chocolates. It’s incredibly exciting to share this tool with you and we can't wait to see what people use to create their favourite drinks.
The Hot Chocolate Shaker goes live on Kickstarter 12pm Thursday 30th May 2019, back this project here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/al-garnsworthy/hot-chocolate-shaker-10-seconds-to-smooth-hot-chocolate