Today we’re going to explore Mexican hot chocolate. From our first blog post in this series on cocao vs. cocoa, we now venture to the history of chocolate. Where did it come from and how did the love of chocolate begin? Hot chocolate’s history began several hundreds of years ago. The drink has changed over the years, evolving from cold and spicy to warm and sweet.
As early as 500 BC, the Mayans were drinking chocolate made from ground-up cocoa seeds mixed with water, cornmeal, and chili peppers (as well as other ingredients) – a much different version from the hot chocolate that we know today. The Mayans would mix the drink by pouring it back and forth from a cup to a pot until a thick foam developed, and then enjoy the beverage cold. Although the chocolate drink was available to all classes of people, the wealthy would drink it from large vessels with spouts, which later would be buried along with them.
In the early 1500s, the explorer Cortez brought cocoa beans and the chocolate-making tools to Europe. Although the drink still stayed cold and bitter-tasting, it gained popularity and was adopted by the court of King Charles V as well as the Spanish upper class. After its introduction in Spain, the drink began to be served hot, sweetened, and without the chili peppers. The Spanish were very protective of their wonderful new beverage, and it was over a hundred years before news of it began to spread across Europe.
When hot chocolate hit London in the 1700s, chocolate houses became popular and even trendy, even though chocolate was very expensive. In the late 1700s Hans Sloane brought a recipe from Jamaica to Europe that called for mixing chocolate with milk which made the drink more palatable. The English started drinking chocolate with milk and it became an after-dinner beverage.
In America, during the late 1700s, Martha Washington drank a chocolate tea made from cocoa shells. Chocolate in America was also used as a treatment for stomach and liver diseases as well as a special drink. In Europe, chocolate is a thick hot drink sometimes eaten with a spoon, whereas hot chocolate in America is a thin warm drink usually make with a hot chocolate powder mix. I challenge you this winter season to try one of the original hot chocolate recipes and see if you enjoy a hot, thick cup of hot chocolate.
I have 2 recipes for you from Mexico. One is creamier and one is a basic hot chocolate. The spices and flavor are similar in both. The one from the pictures is the creamy Mexican hot chocolate.
Chocolate Caliente: Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate
- 6 ounces of Mexican chocolate – If Mexican chocolate is not available use 1 ounce of semi-sweet chocolate and ½ teaspoon cinnamon for every 1 ounce of Mexican chocolate. A drop of vanilla can also be added for additional authentic Mexican flavor
- 4 cups milk
- Cut the chocolate into small pieces.
- Place the milk in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Once the tiny bubbles begin to appear in the milk, add the chocolate and continue heating, stirring slowly but constantly, until the chocolate has melted. Do not let the milk boil. If it looks as if it is going to start boiling, take the pan off the heat for a few minutes, continue to stir, then turn the burner down and return the pan to the heat.
- Drink your chocolate as is or place in a blender, half of the amount at a time until the desired frothiness has been reached. If you want a little more spice in your cup, add a pinch of chili pepper (cayenne) NOT chili powder. An additional drop or 2 of vanilla can also be added for extra flavor.
Creamy Mexican Hot Chocolate
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 7 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- In a large sauce pan or stock pot, combine all ingredients and heat over medium heat. Whisk as it heats to combine all ingredients until smooth. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
- Pour into mugs and top with desired toppings.
This is a delicious hot chocolate. I chose a chunky mug and dipped the mug in hot chocolate then dipped it in shaved chocolate. I topped this hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. This is definitely not a diet hot chocolate. I also use Ceylon cinnamon in my cooking and used a Ceylon cinnamon stick to garnish. I used a bittersweet chocolate from Kitchen Kneads as well as their dark chocolate curls.
Sources: Spruce Eats, The Chunky Chef