Mexican Hot Chocolate? No, it's not a twist on hot chocolate. It's the other way around! The modern sugary-chocolatey-milky indulgence is a distant adaption of the original.
DAY 2: MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE.
Let's time travel back 2500 years to the Maya. They made a bitter chocolate drink made of ground cocoa seeds, water, chiles, and other spices. When the Spaniards came in the 16th century, it was still this bitter and spicy cocoa drink taken for its health benefits.
After it was introduced in Europe, sugar was eventually added in the 17th century. It was an expensive drink since all ingredients were imported. Later in the same century, a British gentleman added milk. Of course.
It wasn't until the 19th century that the Dutch processed the beans into cocoa powder (and eventually to bar chocolate, hallelujah). I always buy "dutch process" cocoa powder because of the wonderful, smooth flavor but never thought about the name. The Dutch were the first to separate cocoa butter and cacao seeds, and the name stuck.
Fast forward a couple centuries:
Have you tried hot chocolate in Italy or Spain? I was shocked the first time I tried "hot chocolate" in Italy, after growing up with American instant powdered hot chocolate. The best way to describe it is an espresso cup of rich chocolate pudding. In Spain it's also a rich chocolate pudding (plus churros for dunking).
My cooking, traveling, and painting worlds collide- my favorite moments!
I suppose my Christmas drink, my "Mexican hot chocolate" (a concoction of almond milk + dutch process cocoa powder + cinnamon stick) has little to do with the original form, but I'll keep stirring my cinnamon stick now as an ode to times long ago.
Now with this wealth of hot cocoa knowledge, continue on with this merry December and enjoy the health benefits of good cocoa.
I meant my "hallelujah" very literally: