Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hot Chocolate

"Chocolate" originates from Mexico's...

There is not much like drinking a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is nothing quite like a steaming cup of hot chocolate to warm a winter day.  Whether you are young or old, hot chocolate is loved the world over.  There are almost as many ways to make hot chocolate as there are forms of chocolate and the method you prefer is likely determined by where you live.

The Milk Processors Education Program which is responsible for the popular “Got Milk?” campaign is always looking for ways to encourage people to drink more milk.  Hot chocolate is an excellent way to get another serving of milk into the day for both children and adults.  For more information, listen to the American Farm Bureau’s FoodieNews FoodieCast about hot chocolate.

To help ease the shorter days and cooler nights, here is something sure to warm you from head to toe, everything you ever wanted to know about this delicious drink.

What is Hot Chocolate?

  • Although Americans often refer to hot chocolate, hot cocoa, and cocoa interchangeably, they are actually different forms of the same drink.
  • Traditionally, hot chocolate is made using real melted chocolate while hot cocoa/cocoa is made using cocoa powder, water, and sugar.
  • Hot chocolate is also called drinking chocolate in other parts of the world.
  • Hot chocolate can be made with any of the different kinds of chocolate including semi-sweet, bittersweet, and dark varieties.

History of Hot Chocolate

  • The hot chocolate we drink today is a descendant of the first chocolate drink which historians attribute to the Mayan people.
  • Chocolate beverages were a vital part of the Mayan and Aztec culture.
  • The original versions of hot chocolate were actually served cold.
  • The first versions of this now-popular drink were not sweetened with sugar, which had not arrived yet in the Americas.  They were generally bitterer and often featured chili peppers as one of their ingredients.
  • When the Spanish came to the Americas, they transformed the Mayan chocolate beverage into their own treat called chocolatl which often included vanilla or other spices.
  • The court of the Aztec leader, Montezuma, went through more than 2,000 cups of the cold unsweetened chocolate drink called xocolatl.
  • While there is no definitive proof of when hot chocolate was first served hot, the first record of it being consumed as a hot beverage is found in the 16th century journal of a missionary that lived in both Peru and Mexico.
  • Hot chocolate was brought to Europe as one of the discoveries of the new world.
  • In 1828, Coenraad Johanness van Houten found a way to separate cocoa solids and cocoa butter using a hydraulic press which changed chocolate forever and made it possible for us to enjoy hot chocolate like we do today.

Hot Chocolate Around the World

  • Most Europeans drink the proper form of hot chocolate which is made with real melted chocolate while most Americans drink hot cocoa which is made from powdered mix.
  • In Italy, there is a popular form of thick hot chocolate called cioccolata densa which can also be found in many other European nations.
  • In Spain, hot chocolate almost as thick as pudding and churros are a popular choice for breakfast.
  • The version of hot chocolate served in the Netherlands is called chocolademelk.
  • Another form of hot chocolate, called warme chocoade, which involves melting bittersweet chocolate chunks into a cup of steaming warm milk, is popular in Belgium and other parts of Europe.
  • In Mexico, instant hot chocolate is often available in tablet form and features additional flavors like vanilla and cinnamon.

Not Your Everyday Hot Chocolate

Looking for some ideas on creative ways to enjoy hot chocolate?  Try this unique recipes that take hot chocolate to a whole new level.

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