Saturday, 9 February 2013

Put the Hot into Chocolate!

I have always loved ice skating.  I was only four years old when I started.  I wore two bladed skates.  Eventually I graduated to figure skates.  It was around then that I went to an indoor arena with my friend Fran.  We are still friends now after all of these years.    

When we moved to the country there was nothing finer than going out to the field, where water had settled and froze.   Pools of water turned into huge rinks for skating.   We   lived down the road from  a forest and swamp.  Hidden inside the bullrushes and sassafras shrubs, was a nugget of a find, a natural pond.  Dad would test it, shovel the snow off  and we would skate to our hearts content.  After we were worn out from   the fresh air and exercise we would walk home to where Mom   had a nice cup of hot cocoa waiting.

In those days hot chocolate was always made with cocoa.  Eventually hot chocolate mixes came out that were very convenient but for me their taste was not the same.

During my days of working as a museum  registrar, I catalogued a chocolate pot.     It  was probably used in the 1850’s.  It had a hole in the top of its porcelain base and had a molinillo, a stirring rod.  A handle jutted from  the side of the pot so that the cook could hold it over the heat.  Chocolate in those days was solid and gritty and had to be melted to make it a tasty drink.  It was mixed with water.   

At one time in history hot chocolate was a more popular drink than coffee or tea.  The Cyclopaedia: or  Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences and Literature, says chocolate was “esteemed not only an excellent food, as being very nourishing , but also as a good medicine; at least a diet, for keeping up the warmth of the stomach , and assisting digestion.”  

 I contacted Éric Normand for some more information.  He is a chocolatier in Quebec City.  He has an amazing website and what fascinated me the most was his virtual museum  at . 

Chocolate used in beverages has a long and interesting history. It has been used medicinally and for feeding the troops during the American Revolution.   Many of the soldier’s diaries listed chocolate as a common provision indicating that they breakfasted on the chocolate beverage alone.

Whether you use a mix or cocoa everyone can agree that hot chocolate is a wonderful treat on a cold winter’s day.  Here is a great recipe for a party:

Gloria’s Hot Mocha Cocoa
1 cup of chocolate syrup
1/3 cup of black coffee
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 quart 2% milk
1 quart of fat free half and half
Combine all of the ingredients into a large pot.  Stir until well blended.  Cover and simmer on low until it is ready for serving hot in mugs.
*This recipe makes nine servings.

 At no other time has Nature concentrated such a wealth of valuable nourishment into such a small space as in the cocoa bean.  ~Alexander von Humboldt

Photo's courtesy of  Éric Normand .

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