Chocolate, The Drink

Chocolate, The Drink

The natural place to start a group of chocolate recipes is with the use of chocolate as a beverage, for it was as a drink that chocolate first became known to the Spaniards in Mexico and hence to the world at large. The chocolate of which Montezuma drank his fifty "pitchers" a day was a cold, bitter potion, however; and though it was often thickened with atolle (a "kind of pap of Indian meal") or with a flour made from ground nuts, it was essentially thin. The ground chocolate and spices and other ingredients had a tendency to separate, leaving the drink watery. And for this a kind of swizzle stick was used, much like the molinillo found in Mexico today.

Mexican chocolate (and other drinks of Latin Amercia patterned on it) is perhaps the only chocolate served today that stems directly from that which the Aztecs drank so avidly. In present-day Mexico, one finds pastillas de chocolate (round chocolate cakes) and tabillas de chocolate (chocolate bars) made of roasted cacao beans, ground nuts, spices and sugar. These, when melted with water, are whipped to a foam with molinillos. In the eighteenth century, the Spanish author Marchena wrote that Mexican chocolate was made of 2 pounds sugar, 2 ounces cinnamon, 14 grains of pepper and 1/2 ounce cloves for each 10 pounds cacao. Occasionally anise seed was added in small quantity. And almost invariably the mixture was bound by some nut flour. This formula based on the original Aztec chocolate produces a drink much like the present-day pinillo of Nicaragua, and differs from the Mexican champurrado only in that the latter uses milk and cornstarch.


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