Beyond the Bean I jumped at the chance; I had really liked the Byron Bay cookies that I reviewed last year. I had expressed interest in reviewing biscuits. What arrived, was a huge parcel that the lovely Paul had thoughtfully put together. Not only did I get the biscuits, but hot chocolate powder complete with scoop and two mugs. In addition Paul had included a couple of bottles of Sweetbird syrups, toffee and hazelnut, as well as a couple of pumps to go with them - how cool was that.
Like the Butterburst biscuits, I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, there seemed to be unnecessary ingredients in the Zuma hot chocolate. Admittedly, I am a bit of a purist and prefer my food to be as natural and as unprocessed as possible, but I was a little taken aback to find dextrose, flavouring and salt in addition to sugar and cocoa. Flavouring is such a ubiquitous and meaningless term as it tells you precisely nothing, other than that something unspecified has been added. The cocoa powder was fat reduced, so maybe that's why extra flavouring was felt to be needed. I had naively assumed hot chocolate would contain, cocoa powder, sugar and nothing else. When we tried a cup, I have to say neither of us were that impressed by the taste either - it was way too sweet and also had a bit of a weird flavour.
The mugs were lovely; with my penchant for warm colours, I was delighted by the bright orange background and the yellow writing. Hot chocolate associated words adorned the mugs, conjuring up images of warmth and cosiness. These are perfect for hot chocolate and I've been using them regularly ever since.
Strangely, I was less worried about the syrups, because I sort of expected there to be a long list of ingredients I'd be less than happy with. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find there were no artificial preservatives in these Sweetbird syrups and they are also the only ones approved by the Vegetarian Society. In fact there was nothing there I had an issue with except the term "aromas" - what does that mean? It does say on the label that there are no artificial flavours, so maybe I'm being unduly suspicious. I've seen these syrups or something similar in cafes and they appear to be quite popular, but I had never tried them until now. I had some Hazelnut in a hot chocolate - all I can say is, it didn't do it for me. I can see them being more successfully used in cake toppings and fillings and I will be doing so. In fact, the toffee syrup I've already used to good effect in this toffee yogurt cake.