Monday, June 16, 2008

Chocolate, the Old-Fashioned Way.

June 16 ...

This day in 1657, so all the books say, was the day that Chocolate was first advertised in England. The Publick Advertiser announced:

“In Bishopsgate St, in Queen's Head Alley, at a Frenchman's house, is an excellent West Indian drink called chocolate to be sold, where you may have it ready at any time and also made at reasonable rates.”

Chocolate was a very new and exotic treat in England at this time, but within a few decades it was easily available (for those who could afford it) in London’s famous coffee houses. At this time chocolate was a drink – ‘eating’ chocolate was still two centuries away. It was made by laboriously pounding and sifting the cacao beans to a fine powder from which compressed ‘cakes’ or rolls were made, which were then grated up when a drink was needed. The variety of flavoured chocolate drinks in trendy modern shops – such as hazelnut, cinnamon, mocha, vanilla etc – are not a new idea, they are a rediscovery of a very old one. Right from the outset, chocolate was improved with added flavours.

Here is the seventeenth century method of making yourself a chocolate drink, taken from a small book written in 1695.

To make Chocolate Cakes and Rowles.
Take Cocoa Nutts [i.e Cacao Beans], and dry them gently in an Iron pan, or pot, and peel off the husks, then powder them very small, so that they may be sifted through a fine searce; then to every pound of the said powder add seven ounces of fine white sugar, half an ounce of Nutmegs, one Ounce of Cinamon, Ambergreece and Musk each four Grains, but these two may be omitted, unless it be for extraordinary use.

To Make Chocolate.
Take of Milk one Pint, and of Water half as much, and boil it a while over a gentle Fire; then grate the quantity of one Ounce of the best Chocolate [i.e the cake, as above], and put therein; then take a small quantity of the Liquor out, and beat with six Eggs; and when it is well beat, pour it into the whole quantity of Liquor, and let it boil half an Hour gently, stirring often with your Mollinet; then take it off the Fire, and set it by the Fire to keep hot, and when you serve it up, stir it well with your Mollinet. If you Toast a thin slice of white Bread, and put therein, it will eat extraordinary well.

Tomorrow’s Story …

Mangled Menus.

Quotation for the Day …

Listen, then: let any man who shall have drunk too deeply of the cup of pleasure, or given to work too many of the hours which should belong to sleep; who shall find the accustomed polish of his wit turned to dullness, or be tortured by a fixed idea which robs him of all liberty of thought; let all such, we say, administer to themselves a good pint of ambered chocolate . . . and they will see marvels. Brillat-Savarin.


Anonymous said...

My dictionary defines mollinet as a little mill or a stick for stirring chocolate. THanks for the new word!

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Sally - I love learning a new word too. How come I dont have a mollinet in my house? I must find one. A spoon seems wrong somehow, now, doesnt it?

Rochelle R. said...

Sometimes I see mollinets in shops around San Diego. They are wooden and used to make Mexican Chocolate drink around here. At least that has sugar in it. I have always wondered how they could drink chocolate without sweetners back then.

Unknown said...

Try Spanish: molinillo. A friend brought me one from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I enjoy it very much. Fancy seventeenth- and eighteenth-century chocolate pots also had molinillo equivalents built into holes in their lids. I think you can just make it out in this picture from an exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum in 2004.