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Hot Chocolate

The first chocolate drink is believed to have been created by the Maya around 2,500–3,000 years ago, and a cocoa drink was an essential part of Aztec culture by 1400 AD, by which they referred to as xocōlātl. The drink became popular in Europe after being introduced from Mexico in the New World and has undergone multiple changes since then. Until the 19th century, hot chocolate was used medicinally to treat ailments such as liver and stomach diseases.


Archaeologists have found evidence that Mayan chocolate consumption occurred as early as 500 BC, and there is speculation that chocolate predates even the Mayans. To make the chocolate drink, which was served cold, the Maya ground cocoa seeds into a paste and mixed it with water, cornmeal, chili peppers, and other ingredients. They then poured the drink back and forth from a cup to a pot until a thick foam developed. Chocolate was available to Maya of all social classes, although the wealthy drank chocolate from "large spouted vessels" that were often buried with elites. An early Classic period (460-480 AD) Mayan tomb from the site of Rio Azul, Guatemala, had vessels with the Maya glyph for cacao on them with residue of a chocolate drink.

Because sugar was yet to come to the Americas, xocōlātl was said to be an acquired taste. What the Spaniards then called xocōlātl was said to be a drink consisting of a chocolate base flavored with vanilla and other spices that was served cold. The drink tasted spicy and bitter as opposed to sweetened modern hot chocolate. As to when xocōlātl was first served hot, sources conflict on when and by whom. However, José de Acosta, a Spanish Jesuit missionary who lived in Peru and then Mexico in the later 16th century, described xocōlātl as:

Loathsome to such as are not acquainted with it, having a scum or froth that is very unpleasant taste. Yet it is a drink very much esteemed among the Indians, where with they feast noble men who pass through their country. The Spaniards, both men and women, that are accustomed to the country, are very greedy of this Chocolate. They say they make diverse sorts of it, some hot, some cold, and some temperate, and put therein much of that "chili"; yea, they make paste thereof, the which they say is good for the stomach and against the catarrh.

Drinking chocolate is one of the oldest chocolate

categories, and yet is only now experiencing a

resurgence of interest,” according to the International

Chocolate Salon, sponsor of the annual juried Artisan

Chocolate Awards. Paul Dincer, founder of boundary-

pushing Koko Monk Chocolates in Vancouver, Canada, agrees: “Over the

past decade the landscape of hot chocolate preferences has undergone

a notable transformation. Enthusiasts”, he says, “now seek unique flavor

profiles, experiment with different chocolate types, and move away from

traditional confectionery perceptions.”

Two posh ski resorts in Vail are prime

destinations for fanciful hot chocolate. At The

Sebastian, a gold dusted sphere of Valrhona

milk chocolate is immersed in a cup of dark hot

cocoa spiced with cinnamon, star anise, vanilla

and cloves. The hot cocoa melts the sphere

revealing marshmallows and chocolate crunch


The Remedy Bar at the Four Seasons Vail

has a different flourish for its Haut Chocolat,

a delicate chocolate lattice. Each morning, a

chef crafts the lattice, piping melted Valrhona

chocolate into a circular pattern on parchment

paper. The lattice is placed atop a porcelain

cup along with an oversize marshmallow and

chocolate shavings. When hot chocolate, a

blend of Valrhona 35% milk chocolate, 70%

dark chocolate, and steamed milk, is poured

from a traditional French chocolate pot into

the cup, the topping slowly melts.

James Beard once bemoaned that hot

chocolate “has become something that is

tipped out of a little paper bag into a cup,

dissolved in hot water and served with

artificial whipped cream.” Now, with elegant

apres-ski presentations, high-desert historical

elixirs, and cutting edge creations, Beard

would be delighted with what he described

as “the glories of a truly well-made cup of hot


And now for what you have all been waiting for, a few great recipes!

French Hot Chocolate - Well Plated by Erin
Download PDF • 36KB

Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe Bon Appétit
Download PDF • 31KB

Incredibly Creamy Italian Hot Chocolate - Familystyle Food
Download PDF • 32KB

Cheers, and have yourself a great weekend!

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