Hot chocolate.

Winter has come in the northen emisphere and the cold temperatures invite us to rest inside, maybe in front of a crackle fire, and to warm us with a hot,  steamy and delicious chocolate.
But how do you taste your hot and divine drink?
Rich in chocolate or cocoa, with milk or cream, sugarless or vegan, spicy or fine, thick or fluid, brown or white, with topping or not?

Here we try to go back over, from the origins to now, the history of this famous food, its original ingerdients and their evolutions among countries and centuries, among traditions and fashion.

How many pages could be written about hot chocolate! We have chosen some drops among them, together to some recipes, either traditional and uncommon.

Hot chocolate or hot cocoa?

What’s the difference?

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In hot chocolate it’s used melted chocolate in bar instead of powder. The result of this kind of choice is that the hot chocolate  remains sweeter and thicker than the cocoa one, due to the presence of cocoa butter.

Historical discoveries in Mexico, in archaeological site, prove that use of cocoa drinks is dated before of 1900 b.C.

The Maya mixed cocoa beans with cornmeal, chili peppers and water, pourerd it in bowls over and over again, till it produces a deep foam.. They drank it hot, and on the other hand the Aztec cold.

But it’s Cortés returned to Spain in 1528 to introduce in Europe cocoa beans and the recipe of the cold drinking of the defeated Montezuma and his warriors.

Sugar and milk arrived later.

Mixing the Maya beverage with sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and other spieces, the Spanish transformed it in a tasty drink exclusivelly for aristocracy because too expensive.

Milk was added by Hans Sloane: during a visit of him in Jamaica he found drinking chocolate too nauseous but if mixed with milk it became a delicious drink.

We find in ‘Curioso tratado de la naturaleza y calidad del chocolate’ (A Curious Treatise of the Nature and Quality of Chocolate) by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, an Andalusian physician, the recipe of chocolate:

“Take one hundred cocoa beans, two chillies, a handful of anise seed and two of vanilla (two pulverized Alexandria roses can be substituted), two drams of cinnamon, one dozen almonds and the same amount of hazelnuts, half a pound of white sugar and enough annatto to give some color. And there you have the king of chocolates.”

“In Bishopsgate Street in Queen’s Head Alley, at a Frenchman’s house, is an excellent West Indian drink called chcolate, to be sold, where you may have it ready at any time, and also unmade, at reasonable rates.” reported a copy of The Public Advertiser in 1656.

But the chocolate drink wasn’t always apprecieted by everyone: “Beware the chocolate of Chiapa.” It’s a proverb refers to the anectode in which women of Chipa poisoned the Bishop by chocolate because he tried to stop their habits to drink chocolate during the services. In answer they trasformed the church in a coffee-house  and eliminated the Bishop.

From Spanish to France, Italy and all the Europe, hot chocolate spread out and each countries elaborated their’s own recipe: the Italian ‘cioccolata densa’ or the German thick and heavy one, churros to go with the Spanisch one, or whipped cream drowned in it for an American style.

In Italy the brown beans arrived first in Piedmont and in Sicily thanks to the marriage between Spanish and Italian royal courts.

Born as an aphrodisiac elixir, a secret weapon for warriors, an elitist drink, and become a hot drink for frozen days in mountain in contrast with tea time, today drinking two cups of hot chocolate, as we find in a  Harvard Medical School of Boston study published on “Neurology”, defends our brains from the damages caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Why not to mention the interesting piece published on ‘Journal of Sensory Studies’, where after serving the same hot chocolate in four different colored cups (red, white, orange and cream) to 57 subjects, it’s reported that the more testy drink was conteined into the orange and the cream colored cups. Also the view wants its part.

But hot chocolate isn’t only the beloved drink, it’s also a British pop band popular during the 1970s and 1980s. Their most popular song was “You Sexy Thing” that made the Top 10 in three decades. They are still active as supporting Status Quo in December 2013 on the “Bula Quo” tour.

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Tips and tricks for the best home-made hot chocolate:

  • not use powder but chopped bar
  • dark chocolate (almost 70% cocoa) makes it less sweet and more ‘chocolaty’ flavor than useing milk chocolate
  • use 2 oz. of chocolate for every cup of milk
  • use whole milk, better it’s if you subtitue 20% of milk by whole cream
  • instead of white sugar it’s better use brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup
  • milk previously has to heat up with sugar, and when the mixture makes bubbles add chocolate
  • cornstarch (2 to 3 tsp. for 1 quart of milk) is optional for increasing ist thickness
  • a pinch of salt increases of 37% its delicious
  • spices for new flavours: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, chile powder, cloves, pimentón
  • dissolve 1 table spoon instant espresso powder to stay awake
  • whiskey, rum or Kahlua (coffee-flavored liqueur ) for deep sleeps
  • marshmallows  or whipped cream: they don’t be missing.

It’s the Mexican Chocolate Atole drink maybe with roots in ancient recipe of this divine beverage.
Mexican chocolate is a chocolate bar sold in Mexican groceries with cinnamon, almonds and vanilla, and a much grainier texture than other chocolates.
Atole is a kind of corn starch.

Ingredients for 2 cups:

1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup water
1 pinch of salt
2 tbsp Masa Harina Flour
2-3 squares of Mexican Chocolate (substitute it with dark 70% cocao chocolate)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp piloncillo ( an unrefined sugar used in Mexican cooking, substitute it with 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar plus 1 tablespoon molasses)
1 tsp cornstarch (atole)
1 tsp cinnamon powder or 1 Canela (Mexican cinnamon stick)

Italian hot chocolate.
Ingredients for two cups:

500 ml whole milk
120 gr dark 70%cocoa chocolate
20 gr no-sugar cocoa powder
20 gr corn starch
20 gr sugar

Nutella hot chocolate.

Ingredients for two cups:

1 tbsp nutella
1 tbsp no-sugar cocoa powder
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup whole milk

American hot chocolate.

Ingredients for two cups:
2 tsp corn starch
4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 bars (or 3 cups) of semi sweet bakers chocolate
2 tbsp high quality cocoa powder

Mint extract
Orange blossom water
Caramel sauce
Whipped cream

French hot chocolate (le chocolat chaud).

Ingredients for two cups:

1 cups (0.25l) whole milk
3 ounces (70gr) bittersweet (60%cocao) chocolate
optional: brown sugar
no topping
no cream

Hot chocolate mixed with coffee.

Ingredients for two cups:

1  and 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup coffee or instant coffee
2 tbsp no sugar cocoa powder
2 tbsp raw sugar
1 tps corn starch

Vegan hot chocolate

Ingredients fo two cups:

2 1/2 cups of soya (or rice) milk
3 tbsp raw sugar
3 tbsp no sugar cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 pinch cinnamon


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