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Home > HOT CHOCOLATE HISTORY

"Chocolate is not just a food....it is a passion"
......Cath Kerry


Throughout history, the first way people ever consumed chocolate was as a beverage. Cacao trees were indigenous to the Amazon rain forest and were first cultivated by the Olmecs as early as 1000 BC. The Mayans later domesticated cacao and roasted and pounded the beans to form a bitter paste which was then added to water creating the first hot chocolate beverage. Over time, the Aztecs began to further refine this drink by adding spices to create a special brew that was reserved for noblemen and warriors.

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century, they took the bitter spicy beverage back to Spain where it did not become popular until more of the pungent spices were removed and replaced with cane sugar and served as a hot chocolate drink instead of cold. Michael Turback in his book entitled "Hot Chocolate", gives a wonderful description of how the Spaniards' refinements caused Madrid to become the center from which the "luxury liquid spread across the entire continent."

"Cacao became the jewel of European commerce, while chocolate beverages became fashionable among lords, ladies, and poets. The upper class sipped their steaming hot chocolate sweetened and served in deep, straight-sided cups, while royalty flaunted their wealth by drinking from golden chalices. By the time the beverage made it's way to the British Isles, milk had been added to the mixture and although chocolate houses flourished in major cities, the price of drinking chocolate was out for the bourgeoisie.

In 1828, everything changed when a Dutch chemist developed a new way of pressing the fat from cacao beans. His method for creating cocoa powder made the drink more affordable and available to the masses, although the new drink paled in comparison to the original.

While most countries in Europe remained faithful to the more luxurious recipe, convenient cocoa powder prevailed in Britain and elsewhere. As those in the United States adopted the British fondness for cocoa, the drink seemed to lose its appeal among adults. Cocoa was relegated to adolescence and derided in literature as bedtime nourishment for schoolgirls. To make matters worse, Americans began using the terms "hot chocolate" and "hot cocoa" interchangeably, obscuring the considerable difference between the two.

True hot chocolate has maintained it's exotic, romantic image in much of Europe, yet it has never been widely embraced on this side of the Atlantic. And while it's obvious that American temperaments are suited for the stimulation of coffee, a growing number of us long for a time when life was simpler and food was slower.

So why on earth can't we make as decent a cup of hot chocolate as they do in Europe? How in Heaven's name have so many of us missed out on experiencing the intense flavors, the rich and satisfying texture, and the unhurried ritual of melting fine chocolate into warm milk [or as we would say at Cocoa Canard, in hot water as originally enjoyed]? Restoring the seductive liquid to it's rightful place in our culture is long overdue.

Hot chocolate is at once extravagant and familiar, provoking and comforting. It demands to be slipped slowly [or 'spooned' as we would say here], savored as a treat that kindles of safety and innocence while it gently lifts the spirits. Each cup offers refuge from the stresses of modern life, change of pace from jam-packed schedules."

It is our hope at Cocoa Canard to introduce people to a tradition that is several thousand years old and to create a simple ritual that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Our Spooning Chocolate uses a combination of high quality beans including the expensive, flavorful Criollo. The beans are artfully aged and then slow roasted and blended in small batches using reall vanilla, not an extract, to create a richness and complex range of flavors with hints of caramel, cinnamon, and hazelnut among others.

We have also included a mini-molinillo (South American whisk) that you can use to mix your hot chocolate right in the cup and whip up a slight cocoa crema. Traditionally, hot chocolate was always served with a more frothy cap of foam as the foam was said to embody the spirit of the chocolate and the energy of the person who made it. In any case, whisking the hot chocolate releases all the intoxicating aromas and volatile oils to enhance the flavor of the beverage.

What's convenient about Spooning Chocolate is that you can mix it in a small amount of water right in the cup and don't have to bother cooking it in a pan on the stove. We also created wonderful Spooning Mugs so people could slow down and enjoy our hot chocolate drink with a spoon and extend the moment of this most satisfying chocolate pleasure. It's a ritual that all of us here hope you will come to cherish.

Our goal has always been to create something unique and at the same time traditional. We want people to take a break from their day and to actually experience what it is to savor real dark chocolate on their palate without anything else added. When high quality chocolate is warmed and isn't overwhelmed by the presence of other ingredients, it's rich, earthy, sensual qualities magically come to the forefront. If you haven't had hot chocolate like this, you haven't had chocolate! It is considered one of the purest and finest drinking chocolates you will ever experience. And just add 2-3 of our chocolate pastilles in a cup of coffee for the finest Cafe Mocha of your life!