Tag Archives: Chocolate

Hot Chocolate in the 18th Century

La Famille du duc de Penthièvre en 1768

Around 1657 a Frenchman opened a shop on Gracechurch Street in London where he sold chocolate, exotically advertised “as a West Indian drink [which] cures and preserves the body of many diseases.”   The French, ever more sophisticated than the English, had been drinking chocolate since the early 17th century, touting it as a remedy for many ailments.   Not everyone was a fan, however.  Madame de Sevigne commented on its excessive popularity throughout the court at Versailles in a letter to her pregnant daughter during the year 1671, warning “the Marquise de Coëtlogon drank so much when she was expecting that she gave birth to a little boy, black as the devil, who died.”  Clearly, a woman of sound sense.

Despite such declarations, hot chocolate was an exalted beverage among the upper classes.  It was taken daily by Louis IV during his public morning ablutions and Madame du Barry notably gave the aphrodisiac, mixed with amber, to stimulate her lovers.  Marie Antoinette likewise indulged, arriving on French soil with a personal chocolate maker in tow.  Adhering to a common 18th century recipe circulated among the wealthy, vanilla and sugar were mixed with cocoa paste to create a sweet, drinkable chocolate similar to today’s darkest chocolate, if a little more bitter.  It wasn’t until 1727 that milk was added, creating the creamy confection we know as milk chocolate.

Recipes

Variation in chocolate recipes is almost endless, but many were imbibed for their powers of remedying illness or seducing would-be lovers.  Marie Antoinette created a most noble position at court, Chocolate Maker to the Queen, and as such had quite the arsenal at her disposal.   Her recipes included, “chocolate mixed with orchid bulb for strength, chocolate with orange blossom to calm the nerves, or chocolate with sweet almond milk to aid the digestion.”   “Chocolate a la capucine,” though not credited to Antoinette, would have proved useful to French court ladies, who were beginning to suffer abuse over fattening their bottoms with too much chocolate.   All one needed to become svelte was “4 oz. of chocolate, 6 oz. sugar, eggs beaten well and a good half-litre of Madeira!”   Consume at breakfast and don’t eat until dinner. . . because you have probably passed out. (The Temptation of Chocolate).

Among the weirdest recipes recorded: the Marquis de Sade’s “chocolate cantharnidine”, a toxic, aphrodisiacal blend derived from beetles mixed with cacao.  Needless to say, formal complaints soon followed at court and the debauched Sade received a royal scolding.

Chocolate Houses

Back in England, coffee houses were rivaled only by chocolate houses, tea having yet to fully hit the scene.  One of the most famous establishments was Cocoa Tree, a gentleman’s club at 64 James’s Street.  Of note, the 19th century poet Lord Byron was a distinguished member, as well as a number of prominent Whigs in the earlier part of the 18th century.  White’s Chocolate House, as seen below, was also fashionable among the younger set.

Consumption of chocolate, along with every other luxury enjoyed by the rich, dwindled in France during the French Revolution.  Still, during the royal family’s Flight to Varennes in 1791, Marie Antoinette refused to part with her silver chocolatière.  The original service contained “one hundred items made of silver, crystal, porcelain, ivory, ebony and steel.” Spectacularly useful after the loss of one’s head, I’m told.

For more, make sure to check out:

Chocolate at Versailles

Hot Chocolate, 18th to 19th Century Style

Chocolatier to the Kings of France, particularly Pistoles of Marie Antoinette

Rèunion des Musees Nationaux, Chocolate Related Museum Pieces

Tea Find – Kalahari Organic

As much as I love coffee, I have a bit of a tea obsession.  I like to collect different varieties and brands, drinking them much slower than their rate of purchase to savor the accumulation of comforting future moments.  I drink black or mate when I’m tired, rooibos after dessert, and an herbal tisane before bed.  I also make my own herbals out of mint and chamomile and rose hips in the garden.  Still, I can’t get enough. 

I recently discovered Kalahari’s line of Chocolattes, specifically Raspberry Latte, and let me say if I wasn’t on vacation, I would’ve tossed more than one of each in my cart.   They looked delightful: Hazelnut Mocha, Matcha Mint.  To my surprise the Raspberry Latte tasted exactly as one would expect: a hint of ripe red berry, a smooth undercurrent of rich dark cacao melted with slight sweetness of rooibos.  It’s divine with a bite of dark chocolate or as a complement to dessert.  Their other teas sound wonderful too: Highlands Honey, Limpopo Lemon, Zambezi Red Chai.

Which leads to the question: where to get it?  I’ll be scouring my local grocery store soon but with my predilection maybe online ordering is the best option.  The tea comes in individually wrapped sachets and they offer a special discount for bulk orders.  Purchase 6 boxes of a flavor and get $3 off your order total.  Teavana, I’m whispering but you just might have a competitor.

Chocolate + Spinach = Yum?

Friday’s a great day to throw a little health into the equation before the weekend rolls into full (and fat!) view.  After all, we all know what those lazy days are for: indulging and getting the most fun time in before Monday.  Unfortunately, that often entails large amounts of unhealthy food and for many of us, guilt.  So, if you’re already dreaming of chocolate and it’s not yet noon, fix yourself a green smoothie.  I guarantee it will curb your chocolate cravings and give you a boost of nutrition too.  And did I mention it’s yummy?  If you haven’t yet tried a smoothie loaded with greens, believe me, you’ll hardly notice the difference, but your skin, hair, and nails will.   Yay for radiance!  And this time of year we could all use a bit of that, right?

 Chocolaty Pumpkin Giant

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/3 cup of pomegranate juice (or water)
  • Handful of frozen strawberries or about 2 cups
  • ½ cup of pureed pumpkin
  • Big pinch of flax seeds
  • 2-3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Pinch Nutmeg and Cinnamon
  • Milk, Almond Milk, or Soy to thin smoothie out as desired (accustomed to a sweeter taste, use vanilla soy or almond milk)
  • 1 banana (optional, creates a creamier texture)

Add spinach and pomegranate first, puree, then add additional ingredients.   If you add more cocoa powder, watch out, my husband swears it makes the smoothie taste like cement (?!) 

If you are allergic to foods without added sugar, add just a small amount, but you probably won’t need it.  The strawberries sweeten it up and Saigon cinnamon (or sugar cinnamon) only makes you think it has added sugar – a handy trick if you’re diabetic.

 Need more ideas?  Or agree with my husband about the cement?  Head over to Green Monster Movement to explore some more super healthy smoothie recipes.