Ask anyone what is a perfect drink when it is cold outside, and chances are, they’d say a mug of hot chocolate.
The chocolate drink has a long history, dating as far back as 3,000 years ago when the people of the Maya civilization enjoyed this tasty brew. The account of Jesuit missionary José de Acosta regarding the consumption of xocōlātl could be the earliest recorded account of preparing and drinking hot chocolate.
The terms “hot cocoa” and “hot chocolate” are used interchangeably. But there is a way to distinguish hot cocoa from hot chocolate. Hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder, while hot chocolate is made from a chocolate bar containing cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and sugar. Because hot cocoa technically does not contain cocoa butter, it has lower fat content compared to hot chocolate.
Hot Chocolate Trivia
- The Aztecs call this drink of xocōlātl. They have been drinking xocōlātl since 1400 AD.
- We commonly call it “hot chocolate” or “hot cocoa”, but it is also called “drinking chocolate”, although this version is often thicker and less sweet.
- We often associate sweets like chocolates with diabetes, but did you know that hot chocolate was used to treat liver and stomach problems.
Hot Chocolate Buying Guide
Supermarkets and groceries (and now, online stores) sell powdered chocolate drink mix that can be used to make hot chocolate conveniently at home or anywhere as long as there is hot water. Hot chocolate is also on the menu in most cafeterias, fast food restaurants, coffeehouses, teahouses, and anywhere serving prepared beverages.
When ordering hot chocolate, keep in mind that there could be a hint of a bitter taste. If you do not like the bitter taste, you can request sugar, vanilla syrup, honey, or other options that can lessen the bitter taste of chocolate.
If you are following a certain diet, choose an instant hot chocolate mix product that is best for you. Today, you can find sugar-free,
keto, vegan, and dairy-free hot chocolate mix products in the market.
Hot Chocolate Production & Farming in Texas
Cocoa, which is used to make chocolate, is not grown in Texas. Except for Hawaii, there is no other US territory where there is a commercial cocoa plantation. Nonetheless, there are many chocolate-making businesses in Texas, and you can order hot chocolate from almost any business here that sells food and beverage.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
Instant hot chocolate mixes contain artificial and processed ingredients. Carrageenan, made from Irish seaweed, is used as an emulsifier. This ingredient can cause digestive problems as well as cancer. Alkali is used to process cocoa beans to remove the natural bitter taste. Corn syrup is used as a sweetener. Another artificial sweetener is sucralose, which can be toxic when it interacts with other food. Maltodextrin makes the hot chocolate mix thicker, while vegetable oil is used in a hot chocolate mix to give the drink a smooth texture. This can be a source of trans fat.
Ivory Coast and Ghana are the two biggest producers of cocoa, the main ingredient of hot chocolate.
In Latin American countries, hot chocolate is prepared using chocolate para mesa, which means “table chocolate” in English.
The first time a European encountered chocolate was in 1502 when Christopher Columbus made his fourth voyage.
Hernán Cortés brought cocoa beans and the equipment used to make a chocolate drink back to Europe and there, it fast became popular and fashionable among the wealthy citizens. It was the Europeans who invented a sweet-tasting hot chocolate. By the 17th century, hot chocolate is a popular beverage among those who can afford this expensive drink. Hot chocolate during this time is often consumed along with other spices for flavor since chocolate alone is very bitter. The Europeans used vanilla and jasmine flower, and other spices. It wasn’t until Sir Hans Sloane visited Jamaica that hot chocolate was made including milk, which is Sloane’s way of making the bitter drink easier to drink. Later, they also used cinnamon, black pepper, and sugar to improve the taste of chocolate.
In 1828, cocoa powder was invented by Coenraad Johannes van Houten in Netherlands. This made it easy to make hot chocolate because cocoa powder is easy to mix with water and milk.
Today, hot chocolate is enjoyed all over Europe. The Italian version of hot chocolate is called cioccolata calda. In Spain, they have chocolate a la taza.
Hot chocolate mix products are sold in tin cans, glass or plastic bottles, in a carton, and sachets for single-serving sizes. The packaging of a hot chocolate mix includes the brand name, where it was made, expiration or best before date, storage instructions, nutritional data, and other information useful to the consumer.
Enjoying Hot Chocolate
A lot of things about hot chocolate have changed and evolved – why we drink it, how it is made, and what it is made of. Many artisanal shops practice the ancient manual methods of producing hot chocolate, while inside supermarkets and grocery stores, there are isles of product stands selling different brands of instant hot chocolate drinks. From using cocoa and honey to adding spices, modern hot chocolate products feature other ingredients like marshmallows. Lastly, the taste has changed from bitter to sweet. The native Americans drink hot chocolate for religious and medicinal purposes. When it came to Europe, people drink it as a status symbol. Today, hot chocolate mix products are affordable. We drink hot chocolate during cold weather. For some people, it is a feel-good drink that inspires nostalgia and memories of childhood. Drinking hot chocolate is a way to feed our craving for something sweet.
A hot chocolate drink purchased in dine-in restaurants is usually served in a cup small enough there is not enough for a takeout cup. If you made hot chocolate at home, you can store the leftover in the refrigerator. Make sure to store leftover hot chocolate in a container with a lid. You can reheat it the next time you want to drink hot chocolate. For powdered hot chocolate instant mix, use the can or container it came with, or transfer it in a container with a lid to retain freshness. There is no need to refrigerate powdered hot chocolate.
Make your own hot chocolate
If you like a little spice in your food and you enjoy hot chocolate, why not make a spiced hot chocolate at home? But before you think you’d be the first to do it, know that spiced hot chocolate has been a thing for many years now. Nonetheless, spiced hot chocolate has stood the test of time and is still enjoyed even today. It is a great way to drink hot chocolate if you haven’t tried this version.
Yield: This recipe makes 7 cups
- 7 cups skim milk
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Step 1. In a sauce pan, heat the skim milk
Step 2. Add the cocoa powder and stir lightly
Step 3. Add the sugar and stir lightly.
Step 4. Add the cinnamon and chili powder. Stir lightly for 5 minutes.
Step 5. Pour in cups.