Chocolate originated in Central and South America and was introduced to the western world in the 16th century by the Spanish explorers. It comes from the seeds of a cocoa plant called the Theobroma cacao tree, which means ‘food for the gods.’ The beans of the tree are fermented, dried, roasted, and processed into a paste called chocolate liquor, which has a rich color but bitter in taste. Combined with sugar, however, it yields a rich distinctive flavor that appeals to the sweet tooth, thereby making it one of life’s indulgent pleasures.
It is energy-giving since it is full of carbohydrates and likewise stimulating since it also contains caffeine and theobromine. Introduced in the market as a chocolate bar only in the 19th century, chocolate has always been used as a drink even during its earliest history. Even today when there are lots of varieties to choose from, the chocolate drink continues to hold its own.
First, there’s the ever-popular chocolate milk drink. Whether pre-mixed or home-made, it remains a big hit especially among schoolchildren. This sweetened, cocoa-flavored milk drink actually needs to be kept cool and refrigerated, which makes it all the more appealing to young kids and choco drinkers alike.
Most adults, however, prefer their chocolate drink to be hot. There’s a very nice warm feeling in the stomach when drinking no less than hot chocolate early in the morning, especially if it’s cold outside. Now coming in a variety of flavors, hot chocolate drinks are very popular all over the world. Some serve it frothy while some garnish it with whipped cream and candy canes. Some serve it with eggnog, chocolate chunks, toffee chunks, and marshmallows.
Some combine coffee and chocolate while some put in some spices with vanilla. Some are trying on new combinations that include chocolate and ginger or chocolate and tea. Some put in cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg as ingredients while some experiment with chili. Some have cardamom spice and orange peel while some have tried coffee liquor and rum. And have you ever heard of ‘hot chocolate shot,’ ‘hot chocolate latte,’ and ‘hot chocolate martini’? In whatever way you mix and fix it, hot chocolate still is the perfect drink on a cold day.
Here’s how to make the most of chocolate for your chocolate drink, whether you take it hot or cold. For chocolate-flavored liquids, take the ratio of 1 to 1, that is, 4 ounces of chocolate for every 4 cups of liquid. Chop the chocolate into small cubes and allow it to melt slowly over low heat. To melt chocolate, heat it in a bowl suspended over but not in a pan of hot but not boiling water. Melt it slowly without stirring and it should just be lukewarm.
Chocolate will lose its glossy shine and delicious aroma if it is overheated. When done properly, the result will be a rich velvety smooth indulgence every chocolate lover will enjoy. Nonetheless if you prefer it, this mixture may be substituted with ¾ cup cocoa powder and ¼ cup sugar for every 4 ounces of chocolate. For cold chocolate mixtures, always remember that the mixture will thicken quite considerably as it cools.