Hot cocoa or hot chocolate as we say in the South dates back the ancient Mayans and Aztecs. It was nothing like the hot cocoa we have today. Milk was not used and it was served cold with a blend of wine and chili peppers. EWWW!
Chocolate was brought to Europe in the 1500's and in the 1600's chocolate houses, much like coffee houses, were found throughout England. The most fashionable chocolate house was White's, which opened in 1693. Later, like many chocolate houses, White's became a gentlemen's club and still exists today.
Besides being enjoyed as a drink by the aristocracy (cocoa was very expensive), it was used to treat various stomach disorders, liver disease, and fevers. In France, chocolate was used to "fight fits of anger and bad moods". I think it is still used for that by women everywhere!
Cocoa progressed through the decades and some of the historic names associated with hot cocoa are present today. In 1842, John Cadbury is selling 16 types of drinking cocoa. 1879 milk chocolate is invented in Switzerland using powdered milk invented by Nestle. In 1926, Hershey introduces Hershey syrup, 1935 Carnation comes up with instant hot cocoa and in the 1950's Swiss Miss produces packets of hot cocoa for airline passengers.
Hot cocoa has become a well-loved comfort food. What is better on a cold winter night than a cup of hot cocoa? And, this is definitely the week to enjoy it as the deep freeze continues. Here are my recommendations:
Instant chocolate mix:
I give Land of Lakes five stars! It is the best instant hot cocoa mix that I have used. Great rich chocolate taste. It is an expensive brand, compared to Nestle or Swiss Miss. But the flavor, which doesn't taste instant at all, is worth it.
A simple delicious recipe for making hot cocoa yourself and cheaply, too:
1/3 cup dry milk
1 tsp cocoa
1 tsp sugar
Add 1 cup of hot water. Stir and enjoy!
(you can also mix with cold water and heat in microwave)
This hot cocoa will have a creamy milk taste, more chocolaty and less sweet than the store-bought mixes.
Regardless of how you prepare it, I hope you enjoy a hot cup tonight!