From the Mayans to the Aztecs. From the Aztecs to the Spaniards. From the Spaniards to the Europeans. Then finally to the US. Long road for the “food of the Gods” to travel.
The history of chocolate is full of amazing stories surrounding its’ origins. The cacao plant, the Theobroma (Greek word for food of the Gods), was originally used by the Mayan culture as an alcoholic beverage. It was fermented and mixed with cornmeal, vanilla beans and chiles. The taste was bitter and the beverage was used mainly for religious ceremonies.
When the Aztecs came along, the custom was adopted and cacao plants were planted for the use of the Native peoples elite. These beans had been used by the Mayans for trading purposes, so the Aztecs, realizing the cacao plants were like gold, used the plant to trade for everything from goods to slaves.
Along come the Spanish. Columbus and Cortez are attributed to bringing chocolate to Spain. The harsh, bitter beverage, though, was difficult for Spaniards to get used to. So they started adding sugar and cinnamon to the beverage for a more appealing taste. This new version of the chocolate drink was kept a secret for many years before it reached Europe.
Once reaching Europe, after the 1600’s, additions were made to chocolate, like adding milk and vanilla and sugar to make it desirable to a greater portion of the population. In the 1900’s, chocolate became even more popular. Chocolate bars were created that touted the health advantages of eating chocolate. Chocolate contains flavonoids that are a source of antioxidants and can help the body keep the arteries from clogging thus creating a healthy blood flow and keeping your blood pressure lowered.
From the 1900’s on, people became aware of the industrialization of chocolate. For those of you not familiar with this time in history, please check out the many books available in the library, your local bookstore or the Internet detailing the accounts of the historical evolution of chocolate.
As for Mexican Chocolate, if you have never tasted a piece of this delicious confection, it will probably be an interesting, if not unusual delight to the senses. Much like the Spaniards attempting to drink the original Mayan chocolate (bitter) drink, most people today relate chocolate to the type of confection that is manufactured today into a smooth and easy melting piece of candy. Mexican chocolate is made from roasted and ground cacao nibs (dark and bitter chocolate), sugar and cinnamon and sometimes ground almonds. It is granular in texture and is packaged in round disks scored into wedges. The impression left on the palate will astound you.
This “food of the Gods” is used for preparing many wonderful dishes and beverages, not just dessert. Mole is a wonderful sauce prepared with a mixture of red chile and Mexican chocolate. It is poured over chicken and enchiladas to give it a thick and rich flavor. Chocolate Martinis are a new and tasty trend for those who like to imbibe.
If you are a chocoholic, treat yourself to a new experience and try some Mexican Chocolate. Taste it, cook with it, and maybe you can even trade with it like the Mayans once did. Here are a couple of Mexican Chocolate recipes to try out for a new sensation—well maybe not new. After all, it’s been around since 1400 BC! We also offer tips,hints, and video to make sure your Jello Shot come out perfectly. The nice thing about jello shot recipes rum is the variety, bright colors, and many sweet tastes….FUN!
(Makes 2 servings)
Chocolate-Chile Powder*, for rims of glass
Mix Chocolate Chile Powder ingredients completely and spread out over an open dish. Moisten rims of margarita glasses and dip into the Chocolate-Chile Powder.
½ cup all purpose flour
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
For brownies: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°. Generously butter an 8x8x2 inch metal baking pan; dust with flour. Mix first three ingredients in small bowl. Stir chocolates and butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted. Stir until smooth. Turn off heat. Let chocolate stand over water.
For topping: Whisk all ingredients in small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted and smooth. Pour evenly over brownies in pan.