Back in the days of the Aztecs, cocoa beans were valuable not only for their culinary importance but also as currency. Cocoa beans were oftengiven as gifts during important ceremonies and festivals. Even so, they also used the roasted beans to make a chocolate drink. Their version is much different from the hot chocolate we know today. The Aztecs actually drank it cold, flavored with wine and chili peppers, and not at all sweet.

Chocolate was discovered and brought to Europe in the early 1500s by the explorer Cortez. After its introduction in Spain, the drink began to be served hot, sweetened and without the chili peppers. The Spanish were very protective of their wonderful new beverage, and it was over a hundred years before news of it began to spread across Europe.

When it hit London (in the 1700s), chocolate houses became popular and very trendy. It was the English who started adding milk to their chocolate and it was enjoyed as an after-dinner beverage.

Below is a decadent recipe described as the “Best Hot Chocolate in the U.S.” by Food & Wine served at Baked in Brooklyn NY that our residents at Park Canyon Apartments can whip up in their kitchens on these cold winter months.

Ingredients:ID-100375073

  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons Jack Daniel’s whiskey (optional)
  • Marshmallows, for serving
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the bittersweet chocolate with the milk chocolate. Add the boiling water and let stand for 1 minute. Whisk the chocolate mixture until it is smooth.
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and heavy cream just to a simmer. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk over moderate heat until hot. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the whiskey. Pour the hot chocolate into demitasse cups or small mugs, garnish with marshmallows and serve.

Image courtesy of OZphotography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net