chocolates and cakes

Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate:

Hot chocolate is a very popular beverage, usually consisting of milk, chocolate or cocoa powder, and sugar. Restaurant pastry chefs and chocolatiers have popularized this drink all over the world and today there are several recipes available for this decadent drink.

History:

This drink was originally called 'chocolate', but was later renamed 'hot chocolate', to distinguish it from the popular chocolate bars.

Native Americans are the first users of this drink. The Olmecs, the oldest civilization of the Americas (1500-400 BC), were most likely the first users of cacao. The Maya consumed drinks made with cocoa beans from their plantations in the Chontalpa region, now known as Tabasco (Mexico). They prepared a drink called 'xocolatl' (bitter water) made from roasted cocoa beans, water and spices. The Aztecs called this drink chocolatl and considered it an aphrodisiac. The Aztec Emperor Montezuma (1466-1520 AD) consumed this drink in golden goblets before entering his harem.

Montezuma introduced this drink to the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes, who returned to Spain in 1528 with a cargo of cocoa beans and chocolate drink making equipment. Chocolate soon became popular among the Spanish elite, who drank it boiled in wine, heavily spiced and sweetened. They kept the delicacy a secret for nearly a century, before the drink found its way to the kitchens of the upper classes of other European countries.

People outside the royal courts began to enjoy hot chocolate only in 1660. Maria Theresa of Austria, the wife of King Louis XIV of France, shared the recipe with people of France. Ever since, this drink has undergone many changes and there are many variations of hot chocolate available.

Some Variations of Hot Chocolate

Mayan hot chocolate

This is a spiced drink which gets its flavor from a chili pepper. For best effect, keep the servings small.

Ingredients:

• Boiling water 2 cups

• Chili pepper, cut in half, deseeded 1

• Light cream or milk 5 cups

• Vanilla pod 1

• Cinnamon sticks 1-2

• Bittersweet chocolate 8 ounces

• Sugar or honey to taste

• Almonds or hazelnuts, ground extra fine 1 tablespoon

• Whipped cream

Preparation

• In a large saucepan, add chili pepper to the boiling water. Cook over medium-high heat until liquid is reduced to 1 cup.

• Remove the chili pepper. Strain the water and set aside.

• In a medium saucepan, mix cream or milk, vanilla pod and cinnamon stick. Cook over medium heat until bubbles appear around the edge.

• Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate and sugar or honey. Stir periodically until the chocolate melts and sugar dissolves.

• Turn off heat. Remove the vanilla pod and cinnamon stick. Add ground almonds or hazelnuts and stir.

• Add the chili pepper brew, a little at a time, tasting to ensure the flavor is not too strong. If chocolate is too thick, add some more milk.

Mexican Hot Chocolate:

Mexicans drink their chocolate with a huge layer of foam twice daily. They whip the chocolate to a froth with a carved wooden utensil called molinillo.

Ingredients

• Milk 6 cups

• Granulated sugar 1/2 cup

• Unsweetened Mexican-style chocolate, coarsely chopped 3 ounces

• Ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon

• Salt 1/4 teaspoon

• Eggs 2

• Vanilla 2 teaspoons

• Stick cinnamon (for optional garnish)

Preparation

• In a large saucepan, mix milk, sugar, chocolate, ground cinnamon, and salt.

• Heat on low flame, stirring periodically, until the chocolate has melted and the milk is very hot, but not boiling.

• Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl. Add one cup of the hot mixture into the eggs, stirring continuously.

• Return this mixture to the saucepan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more over low heat, still stirring.

• Remove from heat and add vanilla.

• Beat with a molinillo or a whisk until it turns frothy.

• Pour into mugs, garnish with cinnamon sticks, and serve.

Spanish Hot Chocolate

Spanish chocolate drink is very thick, with pudding-like consistency. Spaniards consume this for breakfast, along with churros.

Ingredients

• Milk 2 cups

• Bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, grated 10-12 ounces

• Instant coffee powder 1/2 teaspoon (optional)

• Cornstarch 1/2-1 teaspoon

Preparation

• In a heavy medium saucepan, combine milk, chocolate, and coffee powder. Stir over low heat until the chocolate melts.

• Increase heat and stir continuously until it comes to a boil.

• Remove from heat, add cornstarch dissolved in water, and whisk until it turns frothy.

• Return the mixture to heat and bring it to boil thrice, whisking continuously and removing from heat every time it starts to bubble.

• Pour the drink into mugs and serve immediately.

Belgian hot chocolate

Belgian chocolate is a bittersweet drink, which you can serve as is, or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Ingredients

-Milk 4 cups

-Vanilla pod, split length wise 1

-Bittersweet chocolate chopped 7 ounces

Preparation

-Combine milk and the vanilla pod in a saucepan. Cook on medium heat until bubbles appear around the edge of the saucepan.

-Reduce heat and add the chocolate pieces. Whisk occasionally, until the chocolate melts.

-Remove from heat. Remove the vanilla pod.

-If the drink is too thick, add a little more milk to thin it.

-Whisk the drink vigorously and serve.

White Hot Chocolate with Mint

This concoction of white chocolate and mint makes a sinfully refreshing dessert.

Ingredients

-White chocolate, chopped 4 ounces

-Milk 2 cups

-Strong mints, powdered 3

-Peppermint extract 1/4 teaspoon

-Whipped cream 1/2 cup

-Sugar to taste

Preparation

-In a saucepan, combine milk and white chocolate. Cook on low heat till the chocolate melts.

-Remove from heat, add the mint extract, and stir vigorously.

-Whisk the cream with the mints.

-Pour the milk chocolate into tall glasses and top with the cream.

Irish hot chocolate

This delicious drink includes Baileys Irish Cream.

Ingredients

-Cocoa powder, unsweetened 1/2 cup

-Vanilla 1 teaspoon

-Cold water 1/2 cup

-Boiling milk 2 1/2 cups

-Half-and-half 3/4 cup

-Baileys Original Irish Cream liqueur 1/2 cup

-Salt

-Sugar to taste

-Whipped cream (for garnish)

-Bitter chocolate shavings (for garnish)

Preparation

-Combine the cocoa powder, vanilla, sugar, water, and a pinch of salt in a large saucepan.

-Cook over low heat, stirring continuously until the cocoa dissolves into a smooth paste.

-Add the milk and half-and-half gradually, with constant stirring.

-Allow the mixture to simmer, whisking for 2 minutes.

-Stir in the Baileys Irish cream.

-Pour into warm mugs and garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.