Monday, December 5, 2011

Mexican Hot Chocolate (Adam and Shawn)

            Chocolate is always a delicious dessert that always seems to please the person eating it. You can go into any supermarket or convenience store and purchase chocolate. Chocolate has become very abundant in the United States and people seem to take chocolate for granted. Many years ago, chocolate was enjoyed only by the upper-class and was viewed as a royal dessert. Now people can eat chocolate whenever they want. 
Adam and I decided to meet up on Sunday afternoon to try and make our Mexican hot chocolate drink. Going into this recipe we knew nothing about the essential aspect of the chocolate in Mexican culture. As we will explain later, chocolate was very important to Mexican culture. Adam and I looked at the recipe for the hot chocolate and concluded that since we both have zero cooking knowledge or skill that we would try to accomplish this drink. The recipe seemed very self explanatory and easy to comprehend. The recipe called for very little ingredients and little preparation and cooking time. The ingredients for the hot chocolate were vanilla/ la vainilla, eggs/ huevos, salt/ la sal, cinnamon/ canela, sugar/ el azúcar, milk/ la leche, and chocolate/ el chocolate (preferably Mexican chocolate).
photograph by James Hayes-Bohanan
            The recipe started by saying to get all of these ingredients ready for cooking. It then instructed us to combine the salt, cinnamon, chocolate, milk, and sugar into a big pan. Adam and I completed these steps without any problems or issues. The next step was to place the pan with all these ingredients onto the stove and begin to heat. I was planning on bringing the milk to a boil but Adam promptly pointed out in the recipe that it says not to bring the milk to a boil. If Adam didn’t point that step out to me then the recipe would have been ruined. So I let the milk heat up and come to a nice steady heat. The recipe said to let the milk heat up until all of the chocolate was melted in the pan. The chocolate came in 3 ounce circular pieces. They needed to be broken up into smaller chunks. It wasn’t like the chocolate packets that come in the stores. It took only a couple minutes for all of the chocolate to melt in the pan. I had to continue stirring all of the ingredients in the pot while the milk was heating up. While the milk was getting warm, Adam took the two eggs and cracked them into a separate bowl and was beginning to whisk them separately. While he was mixing the eggs I poured a cup of the warm milk into his bowl so the eggs and milk could combine. Once the eggs were completely mixed with the warm milk we poured the bowl back into the pan of hot milk. We had to do this step so that the eggs would not scramble in the milk. If this had happened then the recipe would be ruined and we would need to have started all over again. Up to this point Adam and I had no issues and were very impressed with our performance as chefs. Once the eggs were back in the pan, we read that we needed to let the milk heat up even more but not to let it come to a boil again. We needed to let the milk warm up for 3-4 minutes. Once the four minutes were up Adam poured in two teaspoons of the vanilla extract to the milk and I stirred the hot milk for one minute extra. After all of these steps were completed we each garnished our mugs with a cinnamon stick, and poured a cup of Mexican hot chocolate into it. We both tried the hot chocolate at the same time and to our amazement it actually tasted better than we thought it was going too. I could really taste the flavor of the cinnamon and the chocolate.

Adam and I didn’t really deviate from the instructions. We were able to follow the recipe and didn’t honestly come to any problems or issues with the steps. Adam and I would definitely make this drink again and look forward to presenting our research at the Mid-Year Symposium.
            Chocolate has a very deep background in Mexico. Chocolate is “the name applied to the variety of products manufactured from the seeds of the tropical tree Theobroma cacao L.” A man named Carl Von Linne, known as Linnaeus, called the tree “food of the gods” (Ziegler, 400). No one is exactly sure of where the cacao originated but it is assumed to be from somewhere in the Amazon or Mesoamerica. According to the Cambridge World History of Food, it seems that the cacao has been scattered all over the earth and even scientifically modified to produce different varieties. “Experts tend to identify cacaos and their various differences and desired qualities by regions, soils, and kinds of processing, so that Guayaquil cacaos, Brazilian cacaos, and varieties from the Ivory Coast or Malaysia, for example, are all characterized according to aroma, sweetness, the shape and size of the bean, oil or “butter” content, and other attributes” (Origins, Varieties, and Cultivation).
            For a long time, chocolate was considered to be a drink for the elite, and a symbol of status in the Maya and Aztec cultures. Chocolate was the drink of choice for warriors and nobles and it was key in rituals, where it symbolized human blood. Another reason why chocolate was so exotic was because it could not grow in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, so it had to be imported from conquered lands, or traded for from the Maya. All the elite people drank chocolate, even Montezuma, who drank up to 50 flagons per day. (A flagon was just another name for a glass.) (Ziegler, 400)
            “The composition of the edible cotyledon or ‘nib’ is by weight approximately 55 percent fat; 30 percent carbohydrates, half of which is dietary fiber; 10 percent protein; and a host of minor nutrients. This breakdown provides a key to the basis for chocolate’s status as a luxury food.” (Ziegler, 400).
            There were various ways that people would drink their chocolate, the most basic being a mixture of ground cacao and other flavorings added to water, but the one thing everyone agreed was the most important was the foam. They would transfer the liquid from one container to another to produce the foam. It was considered to be a sign of quality (Ziegler, 402).
            Over time, chocolate became more and more common, and was no longer a status symbol. “Cocoa became a breakfast drink for women and children; what formerly symbolized power was now in the hands of the disenfranchised in middle-class society” (Ziegler, 402). Another huge movement for chocolate was in the 1820’s when chocolate started to be produced not only for drinking, but for eating. “The development of solid eating chocolate was evolutionary” (Ziegler, 402). For class we watched a movie called Like Water for Chocolate which followed a girl by the name of Tita through her life as a young adult. The movie showed how many Mexican dishes were made and how a little bit of magic could completely change the whole meal. The secret ingredients put into each meal could totally change how a person acted or felt. It was a very interesting movie and really opened up our eyes to a whole new world of culture food and drink.  
            There is something about chocolate that is magical, as shown by its history in the Maya and Aztec cultures, and even still today. It is used in the fanciest desserts, people give it to each other to show their love, kids go crazy about it on Halloween, and it is just enjoyable to eat or drink whenever you feel like it.
photograh by James Hayes-Bohanan

Rob and Josh enjoy the chocolate.

Works Cited

Katz, Solomon H., and William Woys Weaver. "Chocolate." Encyclopedia of Food and

        Culture. Vol. 1.  New York: Scribner, 2003. 400-03. Print.

Like Water for Chocolate, Miramax, 1992, Film/Movie

"Origins, Varieties, and Cultivation." Cambridge World History of Food. Cambridge:

        Cambridge University Press, 2000. Credo Reference. Web. 08 November 2011.

Stradley, Linda. "Hot Chocolate, Hot Chocolate Recipes, Rediscover True Hot Chocolate,

          Mayan Hot Chocolate, History of Hot Chocolate." What's Cooking America.

          Web. 08 Nov. 2011. <>.

1 comment:

  1. Well chocolate has really a rich history starting from the Mayans and Aztecs. They believe it to be something really something for the royals and gods to consume that's why it has become one form of their currency.

    Haley McAdams
    Food Manager Certification