CHOCOLATE: A VICTORIAN TREAT? OR MORE? by Charlene Raddon

Today we have guest author Charlene Raddon with us here at the Junction. Charlene is not only discussing one of the best things in this world–chocolate!–she is also giving away two books! One lucky commentor will win an e-copy of To Have and To Hold and another will win an e-copy of Divine Gamble. Take it away, Charlene!

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am thoroughly addicted to chocolate. Dark chocolate, to be precise. I rarely eat milk chocolate. Dark varieties have less calories and are good for the heart (that comes straight from my doctor).

Almost everybody loves chocolate, right? But how long has it really been around? The Victorians adored drinking the liquid version, but did they invent, grow, develop chocolate? No.

The first chocolate house in London opened in 1657, advertising the sale of “an excellent West India drink.” In 1689, a noted physician, Hans Sloane, developed a milk chocolate drink, which was initially used by apothecaries. Later Sloane’s recipe was sold to the Cadbury brothers. London chocolate houses became trendy meeting places for the elite London society that savored the new luxury.

But chocolate goes back much farther than the seventeenth century. The fermented, roasted, and ground beans of the Theobroma cacao (chocolate), can be traced to the Mokaya and other pre-Olmec people, with evidence of cacao beverages dating back to 1900 B.C.

The Maya are credited with creating a drink by mixing water, chili peppers, cornmeal, and ground cacao seeds. The Aztecs acquired the cacao seeds by trading with the Maya. For both cultures, chocolate became an important part of royal and religious ceremonies. Priests presented cacao seeds as offerings to the gods and served chocolate drinks during sacred ceremonies. Chocolate was so revered the Aztecs used it as both a food and currency. All areas conquered by the Aztecs that grew cacao beans were ordered to pay them as a tax, or as the Aztecs called it, a “tribute”.

In 1521, during the conquest of Mexico, the Spanish conquistadors discovered the seeds and took them home to Spain. The Spaniards mixed the beans with sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and cinnamon. The result was coveted and reserved for the Spanish nobility. Spain managed to keep chocolate a secret from the rest of the world for almost 100 years. Once discovered, the drink spread throughout Europe.

Somewhere along the way, some European decided a special pot to serve the beverage in was needed. The earliest pots were silver and copper. Later, European porcelain manufactures began producing them as well. These pots had a right-angle handle and a hole in the lid in which a wooden stirrer, called a molinet or molinillo, stirred the mixture. Rather than a log spout which began in the middle of the side of the pot, like coffee and tea pots have, the chocolate pot has a flared spout at the top.

If you look on e-Bay, you’ll see pots of both styles, those with the long side spouts offered as combination coffee or chocolate pots. Prices vary considerably, but a good pot can run as much as $1,000.00, and a set, with cups and saucers and sometimes sugar and creamer, can be as high as $3,000. Although none of mine are this valuable, my personal assortment of chocolate pots numbers around thirty-five. The photographs shown here are from my collection.

The origin of the word “chocolate” probably comes from the Classical Nahunt word xocol?t (meaning “bitter water”) and entered the English language from Spanish. How the word “chocolate” came into Spanish is not certain. The most cited explanation is that “chocolate” comes from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, from the word “chocolat,” which many sources derived from the Nahuatl word “xocolat” (pronounced [ ?o?kola?t]) made up from the words “xococ” meaning sour or bitter, and “at” meaning water or drink. Trouble is, the word “chocolat” doesn’t occur in central Mexican colonial sources.

Chocolate first appeared in The United States in 1755. Ten years later, the first U.S. chocolate factory went into production.

I learned all this doing research for my historical romance, To Have and To Hold. In the story, the heroine has a friend who owns a bakery in town and, when Tempest comes to visit, Violet serves her hot cocoa with a chocolate pot.

Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma of Spain published the first recipe for a chocolate drink in 1644 by in his book, A Curious Treatise of the Nature and Quality of Chocolate. The spices included hot chiles, and the recipe goes as follows:

  • 100 cacao beans
  • 2 chiles (black pepper may be substituted)
  • A handful of anise
  • “Ear flower”  *
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 ounces cinnamon
  • 12 almonds or hazelnuts
  • pound sugar
  • Achiote (annatto seeds) to taste –

Ingredients were boiled together and then frothed with a molinillo, the traditional Aztec carved wooden tool. The achiote was used to redden the color of the drink. *Also known as “xochinacaztli” (Nahuatl) or “orejuela” (Spanish).

“Chiles and Chocolate” goes on to provide another chocolate recipe published in France 50 years later. This one has significantly reduced the amount of chili peppers. The recipe was published in 1692 by M. St. Disdier of France, who was in the chocolate business:

  • 2 pounds prepared cacao
  • 1 pound fine sugar
  • 1/3 ounce cinnamon
  • 1/24 ounce powdered cloves
  • 1/24 ounce Indian pepper (chile)
  • 1 1/4 ounce vanilla

A paste was made of these dried ingredients on a heated stone and then it was boiled to make hot chocolate.

Today, the main difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate is that hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder, which lacks the fat of cocoa butter. Hot chocolate is made from melted chocolate bars mixed with cream.

Charlene Raddon is the award-winning author of nine American historical romance novels and a book cover artist at http://silversagebookcovers.com. She began writing in 1980 and first published in 1994 with Zebra Books (Kensington Books imprint). Her work has received high reviews, won contests and awards. Her latest book, Divine Gamble, is currently up for a Rone.

Find Charlene at:

http://www.charleneraddon.com

http://www.twitter.com/CRaddon

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1232154.Charlene_Raddon

https://www.facebook.com/charleneb.b.raddon

https://www.silversagebookcovers.com

Guest Blogger

36 Comments

  1. Thank you for the history of our all time favorite treat of chocolate. I have to prefer hot chocolate for the richer flavor. Dark chocolates are also my first choice. And, any day can be made better with chocolate.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Jerri. Thanks so much for dropping by.

  2. Good morning Charlene- Wow what an amazing history lesson you have given us. I love chocolate too (all varieties). Back in 2016 when I went to Vegas to the RT convention and met several of my favorite authors, especially our very own Miss Linda Broday (which was more of a reunion since we have been friends for a while), plus Rosanne Bittner, EE Burke, and Jacqui Nelson.. it was a remarkable trip.
    Anyway my co-worker here in KS wanted me to buy her some Ethel Mae chocolates from Vegas. Well, I never dreamed chocolate could taste so grand. Yes it pricey, but it’s well worth trying if you ever get the chance. I was in pure heaven.
    Thank you for such a great blog. May you have a great weekend.

    1. I was in Las Vegas too, Tonya. I met Linda Broday and Elisabeth Burke there. Rosanne, I’ve know for years, though not well. I’m going to have to find these Ethel Mae chocolates. Thanks for the chat. I enjoyed meeting you today.

  3. Very interesting article… I love hot chocolate. And prefer light chocolate to dark… Have a great day…

    1. Thanks for stopping in, Tonya. Glad you found the article interesting.

  4. Loved the history lesson on chocolate!! My favorite substance of all time.Hope you have a grand day and a Little or lot of chocolate today!!!

    1. I enjoy a little chocolate every day, Glenda. Wouldn’t know how to live without it. Hope you have a great day too. Thanks.

  5. Thanks for sharing all this great history. Now I know that the Mexican dish Chicken Mole isn’t as odd as Americans make it out to be. The mole is chocolate, red chilies, peanuts and many other spices that come in a paste that is used in a sauce for the chicken. I love it but not many of my family have acquired a taste for it. I love chocolate and have no understanding of people that don’t. I’ve never read one of your books because I’m a relative newbie to the reading word after decades of not reading. I barely started reading again in late 2016 after decades of not reading. I’d love the opportunity to read one of your books and a giveaway is an awesome way to find a new author to add to my go to authors list.

    1. Hi, Stephanie. Good to meet you. I haven’t eaten Chicken Mole, but it sounds good. I used to put a dab of chocolate in my chilli. Enriches the flavor. I hope you read one of my books and enjoy it. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Did someone say chocolate?! My favorite subject. I usually go for the dark stuff and higher percent. Fun history lesson!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Susan. Thanks for dropping by.

  7. Very interesting post. It is amazing how popular chocolate is. I am in the minority. I can take it or leave it.

    1. Oh, Debra, I wish I were in your shoes. I wouldn’t know how to live without chocolate, but I will always eat that little bit for the sake of my heart. But if I could cut down maybe I could lose weight. Thanks.

  8. I LOVE chocolate, so this was very interesting to me. Also the part that defines the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate made me realize I have been calling it wrong all of these years.

    1. I don’t think it matters that much what you call it, Janine. Just enjoy it. I love to serve it in one of my chocolate sets when special company comes by.

  9. Thank you for sharing this with us Charlene. So unteresting. I love the pictures o f your chocolate pots.

    1. Thanks, Carol. I have about 17 chocolate pots so you can see I’m addicted.

  10. Welcome back, Charlene! Great to have you visit. And what a great subject. Everyone on the planet seems to be addicted to chocolate. When I went on a cruise to the Caribbean a few years ago, we had a port call at a Mayan city and went to some ruins. One of the Mayan guides let us try a fresh cocoa bean. It tasted like semi-sweet chocolate that we buy. I loved it. And I love the chocolate pots! So pretty. Everything was done with style back then.

    I loved Divine Gamble! You put me firmly back in the Old West and I felt I was sitting there with Maisey, your lady gambler. I felt the danger, the intrigue, the passion between her and Preacher. It’s a great story. I confess I haven’t read the other but plan to.

    Wishing you much success!

  11. Hi, Linda. Good to be back on P&P. I love the site. I haven’t eaten a fresh cocoa bean, but I’d sure like to try it.

    Thanks for your kind comments on Divine Gamble. I’m so glad you liked it. I just read Heart of a Texas Cowboy and loved it. But I love all your books.

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words about Heart of a Texas Cowboy, Charlene. I’m so glad you liked it. 🙂

  12. Hi, Charlene, awesome blog! Like you say, everyone loves chocolate, right? It’s fascinating how many products come from the New World that are now accepted all around the world. Interesting recipes, too.

    1. Hey, Hebby, how goes it? Thanks for stopping by. You’re right about the products from the New World. Seems like there’s something new to learn every day, huh?

  13. Charlene, thank you for this delicious post! I agree dark chocolate is the best!

    1. Thanks Caryl. Appreciate your dropping by.

  14. Excellent research and history of chocolate, Char. Dark chocolate is my favorite, too I treasure the hunts with you for chocolate pots, ranging from Oregon to Arizona.l haven’t seen all your collection, but I’ve seen some. I also love the novels you’ve written, especially the two mentiones.

    1. Thanks, my friend. I, too, treasure our memories of chocolate pot hunts. Wish we could do it again–soon. Love you.

  15. Thanks for the history on chocolate. I love Dark chocolate better than milk chocolate.

    1. You and me both, Kim. Thank for reading my blog.

  16. Thanks for a very interesting post. I love chocolate and I often have hot chocolate at night, or so I thought. I actually have been having hot cocoa!
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Hi, Connie. Thanks for stopping in.

  17. You have a wonderful collection of pots. My favorites of those shown is the last one. I have one in rich blues. It is not perfect, there is a crack, but it is pretty. What we consider hot cocoa is quite mild compared to the original. I have had some of the recipe styles listed above and I will admit they are not to my taste. They are a bit to bitter. It is definitely a mater of taste. My daughter has strong cocoa every morning and can handle the two mentioned above. Actually, she is the one who finished mine. She may go for the stronger style, but still tops it with whipped cream and chocolate syrup.

    1. I have pots that aren’t perfect too, Patricia. I still love them. Interesting that you tried the old recipes. Sound too bitter for me too. Thanks for commenting.

  18. I love chocolate but its the milk chocolate is my favorite and that is not good for you. Also love hot coco when it is cold outside.

    1. Hey, Quilt Lady. Been a long time. How are you doing? Write me. Try the dk chocolate varieties. It can be an acquired taste for some, but worth it since it’s good for the heart. Good hearing from you.

  19. What a lovely and informative blog! Thank you for sharing some of your collection with us, and thank you for pointing out so many things I didn’t know before.

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