Cacao beans were a valued commodity in Aztec & Mayan times and were even traded as an early form of currency. In the drink form they were used for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. Whilst the earliest forms of the drink may have been as simple as infusing the cacao beans in hot water, it soon evolved to making a paste from the cacao beans and then mixing that paste with spices and chili to create the hot chocolate. Carvings and pots from the Aztec & Mayans eras show depictions of a stick akin to a whisk that was used to froth the beverage too.
But it wasn't until the Spanish conquistadors brought cacao back to Europe, that this originally bitter drink was sweetened with sugar and milk into something more akin to what we know today as hot chocolate. During the 17th 18th,& 19th centuries, chocolate houses became very much the trendy hangout. Indeed they were the coffee houses of their day, but became to be seen by puritans as places that could lead men astray, some of whom seemed addicted to the drink. In some chocolate houses liquor was mixed with the hot chocolate and betting and gambling were rife, not to mention the "Chocolate Girls" who may have offered more than just a serving of hot chocolate. This only help to reinforce the ancient beliefs that hot chocolate could energise the soul and enliven the libido.
It is also interesting to note that chocolate was firstly only ever known in its hot drink form. It wasn't until 1847 that the first commercially available chocolate bar was produced by Bristol's Fry & Son. Up until then it was really the only form of chocolate known to the vast majority of consumers. Over the years hot chocolate had many variations with the addition of spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, spirits, rose and orange blossom waters and even dried rose petals. Up until the process of making cocoa powder was developed by Dutchman Van Houten, hot chocolate had been made with a cocoa paste that incorporated cocoa butter too. The discovery of this process by Van Houten not only revolutionised the drink, but made large amounts of cocoa butter removed during the process now available for chocolate bar production.
Try this amazing version of hot chocolate that is guaranteed to leave all other hot chocolates in its wake.
A gently spiced hot chocolate made with real chocolate as well as a little cocoa. The natural starches in the chocolate thicken the drink, so it pays to whisk a little longer.
- 220ml milk
- 60ml double cream
- 100g Mexican 67% dark chocolate (or a chocolate of your choice)
- 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 star anise
- 2 cardamom pods (broken)
- 50g sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Dry roast the cardamom and star anise for 3 minutes in the bottom of a saucepan.
- Add all the other ingredients and whisk over a medium heat for 8 minutes until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture has thickened slightly.
- Pass through a sieve and drink (tip: add a spoon of whipped cream)
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Article Source: Connoisseurs Hot Chocolate Recipe