Hot Chocolate is a favorite drink this time of year. With all the skating and skiing here in the Midwest U.S. a warm cozy drink is a necessity. Nothing feels better than wrapping your hands around a warm, steamy mug after a jaunt in the snow. Add a few marshmallows and a candy cane and you have a real cup of joy. But where does it come from?
An Abbreviated History of Hot Chocolate
As much as we enjoy it in the winter, as a compliment to our cold weather, it is surprising to learn that hot chocolate originates in Mexico. As early as 500 BC the Mayans were drinking their own version of crushed cocoa seeds, water, and chilis. Of course, they drank theirs cold. (1) The word chocolate itself derives from the Mayan word xocoatl. (2)
From Mexico, drinking chocolate traveled to Spain with the explorer Cortez in the early 1500s. It was there that the drink began being served hot, and sugar was added. The elite of the Spanish court kept the drink secret for around 100 years. But, eventually, the drink made its way to Europe. (3) Once it reached England the addition of milk to make the drink creamy became popular.
Hot Chocolate Today
All the way from cold and flavored with chilis, to warm, creamy and sweet, hot chocolate has seen many different iterations. Nowadays we love to get creative with the flavors and the sugary sweet additions like marshmallows. The recipes and flavor combinations are endless.
While many of us think of hot chocolate as a dessert, it does actually have some health properties. Cocoa has many antioxidants and helps with indigestion. The Mayans often used it to aid stomach maladies. It also contains phenylethylamine, which is a known mood enhancer. (3)
Did you know hot chocolate and hot cocoa aren’t the same? While they are, in general, interchangeable terms, there are differences. Hot Chocolate comes from actual, melted chocolate. It is usually characterized as being thicker and richer than hot cocoa. Hot cocoa, made from sweetened cocoa powder, is thinner and sweeter. (4) Who knew right?!
Now that you know a little more about this great drink, forgo the powdered cocoa. Get back to basics and try the real thing. You can really wow your guests this winter season with a warm gourmet treat. Need some ideas? Check out the collection of recipes below. Click on the images for the details.
Who doesn’t love Nutella? How could it not be better with warm, melted chocolate! Cafe Delites is responsible for this cup of goodness.
I am a huge Harry Potter fan, so a fandom themed drink sounds like the greatest thing ever! Thanks to the creative genius of Darla at Bakingdom.com for this one!
A favorite dessert in a mug, amazing! Thanks to #minimalistbaker for this gorgeous and tasty work of art.
Have a favorite recipe of your own? Share it with us!