Historic Hot Cocoa: Make it at Home!

File:Drinking chocolate, Portland.jpg
Photo: by Tammy (Fun with Logan) [CC BY 2.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Did you try our heritage hot chocolate mix at the cocoa and cookies event this past weekend? The creamy, sweet hot chocolate we tend to drink today is vastly different from the drinking chocolate enjoyed historically.
Chocolate was a slightly spiced drink introduced to the Spanish by the Aztecs in the 1600s.  Legendary Aztec leader Montezuma II was known to drink chocolate every day in a display of strength and power. Spanish conquistadors brought cocoa beans from Latin America to Spain and introduced Europe to this chocolate drink. Originally quite bitter, the Spanish sweetened the chocolate drink and it began to spread in popularity throughout Europe and the rest of the world.
Drinking chocolate was thought to provide nutrients, give one strength and revive energy. It was often offered as a morning drink and thought of as a healthier option that coffee or tea. The actual preparation of drinking chocolate was complicated, requiring freshly ground beans and constant stirring. The processing of cocoa beans to make cocoa powder was developed in the 1820s.  This process enabled people to purchase prepared cocoa powder which could be more easily mixed with milk and sugar to create a drinking chocolate.  This style of drink is what we know call “hot chocolate.”
Here is a simple recipe so you can make your own historic drinking chocoalte at home. This recipe has been adapted for modern cooks from 17th and 18th century recipes.  The drink is very rich, so small portions are preferable.
Photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons, taken or created by Fir0002

Spiced Drinking Chocolate

• 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
• 1 1/2 tsp. ground anise seed
• pinch of chili flakes
• 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp. dried orange zest or grated zest from 1/2 an orange
• 2 1/4 ounces dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids or higher), grated or broken into pieces
• 2 cups 2% milk
In a medium saucepan, stir together the spices and orange zest.  Warm on low heat 1-2 minutes or until the spices smell fragrant.
Add the chocolate and milk to the pan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring constantly.  Heat until the chocolate has melted and the liquid is hot.
Pour into small mugs and enjoy!
Serves 4.
Recipe adapted from Chocolate Fit for a Queen by Historic Royal Palaces (Ebury Press, 2015)