There is nothing that soothes the soul on a cold, rainy day then a cup of hot chocolate. In preparation for a virtual gathering with friends, I was trying to decide what beverage I’d like, when my mind went back to a similar drizzly day I experienced in Holland. I had been walking about the quaint streets of the Doolhof in the ancient fishing village of Volendam, when I had a sudden desire for a Dutch Hot Chocolate.
Now I must say, I’m somewhat a fan of hot chocolate and have even gone as far as serving traditional Mexican Chocolate Caliente with churros on Christmas morning while the family opens their stockings.
The Mayans were said to have made this classic beverage as far back as 500 BC. Of course, it has little resemblance to the warm, sweet beverage we drink today. In fact, this favourite winter beverage started out as a cold, watery mixture with cocoa seeds and chili peppers – hence the “calliente” spicy flavour.
In the 16th century, this beverage made its way to Spain, where the wealthy who could afford it, sweetened their drink and served it warm. In the late 1700’s, a British physician found a recipe in Jamaica which mixed chocolate with milk and was known to treat stomach and liver disease as well as improve libido and give energy. The beverage soon became popular in the chocolate houses of London where they started serving it as an after-dinner beverage. The magnesium in cocoa has proven to soothe the nerves.
Cocoa powder was invented in Holland around the same time and was found to be easier to mix with milk. Since then, many countries have adopted their own version of hot chocolate – such as the thick, rich, dark mixture made in Spain (enhanced thickening with cornstarch) or Vienna (thickened with an egg) to the delicious spicy Mexican chocolate which started it all. Some people serve it with cinnamon or cocoa sprinkled on top of whipped cream or marshmallows.
The hot chocolate in the picture above was the actual one I drank on that cold, rainy day in Volendam and the one I decided to make today for my afternoon fête. I make mine with Dutch processed cocoa and whole milk and on occasion substitute almond milk for those sensitive to dairy. Experiment and let me know your favourite way to drink hot chocolate.
Ingredients 1/3 cup melted dark chocolate chips (or pieces of dark chocolate bar) 1 tsp Dutch processed cocoa 1 1/4 cup whole milk Optional: rum, brandy or favourite liqueur Whipped cream – best quality Garnish: dusting of cinnamon or cocoa
- Stir ¼ c milk in a small saucepan over medium heat just until you see bubbles on the edges
- Melt the chocolate chips then add to warmed milk along with cocoa. Use a wooden spoon to stir until mixture is blended
- Add remaining milk and heat gently, using a whisk to keep it foamy
- Add optional rum, brandy or liqueur
- Pour into mugs, top with whipped cream, dust with cinnamon and serve
Note you may want to double this recipe as it’s impossible to drink just one!