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Hey you, Chocolate Lover! > I February 22, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Chocolate, Food Recipes.
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SPICY CHOCOLATE DRINK
By 1400 the Aztec empire dominated a sizable segment of Mesoamerica. The Aztecs traded with Maya and other people for cacao and often required that citizens and conquered people pay tribute in cacao seed, a form of Aztec money. Chocolate also played an important part in both maya and Aztec royal religious events. Priests presented cacao seeds as offerings to the gods and served chocolate drinks during sacred ceremonies.

Like the earlier Maya, the Aztecs also consumed their bitter chocolate drink seasoned with spices-sugar was an agricultural product available to the ancient Mesoamericans. Cocoa, when mixed with water, chile peppers, cornmeal and other ingredients made a paste into a frothy, spicy chocolate drink.

MODERN HISTORY
Europeans drank their chocolate with sugar and milk. As with the Spanish, most Europeans liked their chocolate sweetened with sugar, another expensive and exotic import from faraway plantations. And in the late 1600s, Sir Hans Sloane, president of the Royal College of Physicians, introduced another culinary custom: mixing the already popular chocolate drink with milk for a lighter, smoother flavor.

In 1879, Rodolphe Lindt created another important device: the conching machine (so called because the earliest machines resembled a conch shell). It churned the paste made from cacao seeds into a smooth blend perfect for rich, creamy chocolate bars. “The divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food.

Hundreds of new chocolate factories and flavors have come and gone. Over the years, many creative confectioners developed lots of new varieties and flavors of chocolate. A few icons of the early 1900s still survive today. Hershey got his start making chocolate-coated caramels in 1893. And his competitors, the father-and-son team of Mars, created the malted-milk-filled Milky Way after an inspiring trip to the local drugstore soda fountain. Milton S. Hershey stated, “Caramels are only a fad. Chocolate is a permanent thing.” During World War II, American soldiers introduced the Japanese to chocolate, where its popularity continues to rise today.

CHOCOLATE TRIVIA
Chocolate syrup was used to represent blood in the famous 45 second shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, “Psycho” a scene which took 7 days to shoot.

Once upon a time, money did grow on trees. Cocoa beans were used as currency by the Mayan and Aztec civilizations over 1400 years ago. When they had too much money to spend, they brewed the excess into hot chocolate drinks.

The Swiss consume more chocolate per capita than any other nation on earth. That’s 22 pounds each compared to 11 pounds per person in the United States.

Rumor has it that Napoleon carried chocolate with him on all his military campaigns for a quick energy snack.

The word “chocolate” comes from the Aztec word “xocolatl”, which means “bitter water”.

The amount of caffeine in chocolate is lower than most people think. A 1.4 ounce piece of milk chocolate contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of decaffeinated coffee. There is an average of 6 mg. of caffeine in both an ounce of milk chocolate and a cup of decaffeinated coffee, while a cup of regular coffee contains between 65 and 150 mg. of caffeine.

HOT CHOCOLATE CARAMEL > Makes 6 servings

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup water
8 milk-chocolate-covered round caramels
6 cups milk
mini marshmallows or fresh whip cream
1 ounce brandy (optional)

In a large saucepan combine sugar, cocoa powder, and water. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add candies until melted. Stir in milk. Heat through . Top with brandy. Pour into mugs, top with mini marshmallows or whipped cream.

COCOA WITH A KICK
Curl up on a chilly night with this great after-dinner beverage. Mix a splash of Hazelnut Liqueur to a cup of gourmet hot chocolate.

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