greyscale photo of baby on wooden bench
greyscale photo of baby on wooden bench

Welcome to Deb's Dibbles of Interests

Hot Chocolate's Bitter Sweet History

As a child, hot chocolate was a special, cheerful, steaming treat. You felt yourself smile from the moment you were asked. The anticipation, as ingredients needed to be gathered and cooked, before the first, all so tiny sip, knowing it is too, too, hot. The tasting along the way with a giggle or two. The precious moments of family, a sled ride, skating or even just stories while all comfy on the couch with hot chocolate in hand. Hot chocolate tastes so delicious, right up to the smiling spoon licking, after slurping the sweetest swirled last sip.

two person holding red mugs
two person holding red mugs

The Making of Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate, a beloved beverage enjoyed by people all over the world, has a rich and fascinating history that dates back centuries. The Maya people were the first to create hot chocolate in the 5th century BC. However, their version of the drink was quite different from what we enjoy today. The Maya made their hot chocolate by crushing cocoa beans to make a paste, mixing in chile peppers and various other available produce, giving it a spicy kick, with water. The mixture was moved from cup to pot, to cup to pot, creating a foam.

Two hundred years later the Aztec people phrased the word, xocoloetl, translating to, bitter water, for their hot chocolate. They started to add flowers and spices such as vanilla and cinnamon to take some of the bitterness out. Believed to be a gift from the Gods, the Aztec people valued the cocoa beans, and eventually used the beans as a form of currency.

It was not until the 16th century when Spanish explorer, Hernan Cortés, brought cocoa beans to Europe. The beans were still initially used to create a cold and bitter drink, much the same as the Maya and Aztec people did. However, it wasn't until King Charles V of Spain tasted it, requested changes and fell in love with it, that hot chocolate, as we know it, started to take shape.

The Spanish, who were known for their love of sweet treats, secretly altered the recipe for hot chocolate and hid the alteration for over a 100 years. They removed the chili peppers and added sweeteners, such as sugar or honey, to make it more palatable. The Spanish also started serving hot chocolate as a warm beverage, which further added to the flavor.

In the 1700s, a recipe from Jamaica made its way to London, introducing the addition of milk to hot chocolate. This not only made the drink taste better but also made it more affordable for the common person. The addition of milk created a creamier and smoother texture, which quickly became the preferred way to enjoy hot chocolate.

The Invention of Cocoa Powder

The 18th century brought another significant development in the world of hot chocolate. A Dutch chocolate maker's father, Casparus van Houten invented a press, believed in 1828, that removed the cocoa butter from the beans, resulting in a dry powdery form. This powder made for a lighter, and simple for storage, product, lasting up to 3 years. The easily mixable powder became the main new form of processing the cocoa beans. This invention revolutionized the way hot chocolate was made, making it more accessible to people all over the world.

During the 19th century, hot chocolate was used for medicinal purposes. It was believed to have healing properties and was used as a treatment for stomach and liver diseases.

Healing Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate is a treat to your body and your mind not just your happy little taste buds. Surprisingly this delightful, delicious, decadent drink, is as good for our health as it is to sip.

Dark chocolate contains a compound called epicatechin, also found in other woody plants considered to be great health boosters such as green tea, apples, blue berries, acai berries and red wines. All which have the ability to relax and dilate blood vessels. This powerful antioxidant makes it a beneficial dietary addition for those looking to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. By consuming dark chocolate, individuals can potentially benefit from improved blood flow, reduced cholesterol levels, and a lower risk of high blood pressure. However, it is important to consume dark chocolate in moderation as part of a balanced diet, as excessive consumption may have negative effects on overall health.

Studies have demonstrated that incorporating cocoa into our daily diet can significantly enhance blood flow in the brain by up to 10%. 2 servings of hot chocolate or 2.5 grams of cocoa powder is enought to bring about a reduction in inflammation not only within the body but also within the brain, consequently decreasing the likelihood of developing various brain related diseases. By indulging in cocoa, we can harness its potential to promote better health outcomes and protect us. The simple, yet effective importance of incorporating cocoa-based products into our daily diets can have a positive impact on the functioning of our brain, contribute to happiness and overall well-being of our body.

person in black jacket holding black helmet
person in black jacket holding black helmet

Epicatechin has been shown to have a positive impact on various aspects of our health. It is known to enhance cognitive abilities, improving our mental functioning and memory. Additionally, it can improve insulin sensitivity, which is beneficial for those with diabetes or insulin resistance. Epicatechin also has skin-healing properties, promoting healthier and more radiant skin. Furthermore, the soothing effects of hot chocolate, or even just sucking on a piece of dark chocolate for a sore throat. Chocolate can provide relief by coating the irritated throat nerves. However, if you are congested, it is recommended to use water instead of milk when preparing your hot chocolate.

Who Wants Hot Chocolate?

Hot Chocolate Today

Today, hot chocolate is enjoyed by people of all ages and is a popular beverage during the colder months. It is often served with whipped cream, marshmallows, or a sprinkle of cocoa powder on top. Many variations of hot chocolate exist, including flavored syrups, spices, and even alcoholic versions for adults.

Canadians love to substitute maple for sugar, add a pinch of vanillia, cinnamon and nutmeg, with melting, puffy marshmallows to top it off. Austrians prefer to add an egg yolk, milk and whipping cream. The Hungarian tradition is to mix in white pepper, turbinado sugar, paprika, cloves, salt, vanillia and garlic. As interesting as that might sound, they like burnt sugar as part of the prep.

Whether you prefer a classic hot chocolate recipe or enjoy experimenting with different flavors, there's no denying the timeless appeal of this comforting and delicious beverage. From its humble beginnings with the Maya people to its worldwide popularity today, hot chocolate has truly stood the test of time.

white and gray ceramic bowl on tbale
white and gray ceramic bowl on tbale

Deb's Dibbles of Interests