What is Hot Chocolate?
Hot chocolate is a hot beverage made with chocolate or cocoa and milk. Whipped cream, marshmallows, sugar, can also be added.
There are many different types, all with slight variations. These include:
- Traditional French
- Salted peanut butter
- Orange pisco
- White fudge
Cacao beans were very popular in ancient Olmec, Maya, and Aztec cultures that flourished in Central America. In these civilizations, cacao beans were used to make a frothy spiced drink that was often served at room temperature. This drink was known as Xocoatl. They also used cacao beans as currency, though the beans used were different. Cacao was the main currency of these empires.
After the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 1500s, chocolate made its way to Europe. Chocolate was still a drink in the 1600s, often served frothy, warm, and sweetened. Cacao began to be cultivated in European colonies in tropical areas. Chocolate houses mushroomed up in European cities.
Today, this hot drink is made out of chocolate bars or cocoa powder.
While many gourmet restaurants prepare this in a traditional manner, chocolate dispensing machines are also available. These are used in cafés and restaurants. Milk, water, and cocoa powder needs to be filled in the required quantities, depending on the type of machine.
One cup (250g) of hot choco contains:
Hot choco, made with dark chocolate or cocoa, has been found to contain flavanols, which aid brain function because of their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It not just boosts mental stimulation in the short-term, but also improves memory. Apart from flavanols, cocoa also contains significant amounts of iron, copper, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorous. This drink can also aid in reducing hypertension, heart diseases, diabetes, and other diseases.
Hot Chocolate Recipes
The FDA defines cocoa as food prepared by pulverizing the material remaining after part of the cacao fat has been removed. This is termed as breakfast cocoa, which is mostly used in the preparation of hot choco. It must contain no less than 22% cacao fat. In some cases, it is also made with chocolate bars, which is also subject to FDA regulations. The FDA regulates all cacao products very strictly.
Michael Laiskonis, The History of Hot Chocolate, Institute of Culinary Education, 2017
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, The Nutrition Source, Dark Chocolate
Food and Drugs Administration, Cacao Products