Chocolate Caliente (Hot Chocolate)
What is one thing that brings people together, no matter the season? Comida! (Food!)
Seasonal specialties can especially brighten the colder months, becoming something we look forward to. In hispanic culture it is very common for the abuelita (grandmother) to show her love through food, and my family is no exception! When we are with my mother-in-law (in the winter), we love to have her special version of Abuelita Mexican hot chocolate combined with pan dulce (sweet bread).
During these last few weeks of winter, warm yourself up with the seasonal classic and read some delicious facts about it.
Did you know hot chocolate originated in/around Mexico with the Mayan culture?
¡Si! ¿Qué chido, no? (Yes! Cool, right?)
The Mayan people invented the drink as early as 500 BC. This delicious drink was made from ground cocoa beans and spiced with chili peppers, poured between different cups to create foam, and served . . . cold! This cold variety was enjoyed by the Mayan people for many generations, and it was not until much later (when the drink was brought to Europe) that it became more similar to how you or I may prefer to drink it.
Explorers eventually brought the chocolate drink back to Europe around the 1500s; there the Spanish began preparing it without chili peppers, instead choosing to sweeten and heat the drink. At this point in history, the beverage began to resemble our modern version of hot chocolate—similar to what my family’s abuelita makes.
Though most people today make the drink hot and sweet, everyone still has their own version. Just like my kids know and love their abuelita’s unique adaptation, every abuelita prepares the drink differently.
Other Fun Facts
American hot chocolate is one of the thinnest varieties of the drink
Different countries have different names for hot chocolate. For example:
Spain: chocolate a la taza
Italy: cioccolata calda
France: chocolat chaud
Earliest renditions of the recipes included corn as an ingredient
Chocolate was originally very grainy because ingredients were ground by hand
Some families (including mine!) usually have pan dulce (sweet bread) with hot chocolate
Does your family have their own special recipe? Do they spice their hot chocolate? Or maybe your family loves to add whipped cream? If you are not already attached to your own abuelita’s recipe, you can use ours!
I hope you have enjoyed learning about the history of hot chocolate as much as I have! Trying new things (and new recipes) can be a fun way to experiment with cultural traditions.