It’s World Chocolate Day 2019, and what better way to celebrate it than by talking about hot chocolate. It’s a delicious treat that can be found in coffee shops, cafes and all manner of businesses that serve food.
Chocolate, and chocolate drinks have a long and interesting history, that has now developed into the diverse range of chocolate products we enjoy today.
The early history of chocolate actually begins in a liquid drink form, rather than the solid bars of milk and dark chocolate we know today. These drinks made from fermented cacao beans date back to as early as 450BC, and were a precious commodity.
It took until the 16th Century for Europeans to get their hands on the cacao bean, and throughout the next 100 years the ingredient spread throughout the countries of Europe. Throughout the 17th and 18th Century, the ways we enjoyed chocolate changed, with it becoming commercialised as new techniques and methods were created.
The Spanish are credited with serving chocolate drinks hot, sweetened, and without any additional ingredients like chilli. From Spain, the drink spread throughout Europe, and the world. Dedicated “chocolate houses” were established in cities, similar to the coffee shops we enjoy today.
Evolution takes time – it wasn’t until the middle of the 18th Century for chocolate to be manufactured as a solid chocolate bar, and another 28 years for it to be combined with powdered milk, creating milk chocolate. Before this point, chocolate was a much stronger, darker and potentially bitter flavour, depending on how it was made.
Throughout the world, it’s served very differently. Some like the drink as a light, thin smooth chocolate flavour. Others like a thick, intensely chocolatey cup that’s somewhere between a liquid and a solid version of chocolate.
Which ever way you like it, though – we can all agree that chocolate is a delicious ingredient; and its popularity is shown in the huge range of chocolate flavoured foods, drinks and creative recipes being enjoyed every day.