Grandma's Chocolate is about a little girl whose grandmother visits from Mexico with a suitcase full of presents. One of the presents is Mexican chocolate.
Now that the weather is getting chilly, I thought it would be good timing to feature a traditional recipe for Mexican hot chocolate. Author Mara Price has shared a recipe - along with some background on the role of chocolate in the history of Mexico.
Thank you Mara, and congratulations on your new book!
Leave a comment and you could win a copy of, Grandma's Chocolate. To learn more, visit the other blogs on the tour - the schedule is below.
The Importance of chocolate in Mesoamerica
Chocolate, or cacao, was first enjoyed by the nobles, warriors and priests of the Olmec, Mayan and Aztec civilizations that inhabited central Mexico and northern Central America at least 2000 years before the Spanish arrived. Cacao is from the Olmec word for chocolate, kakawa.
Mentioned in the sacred book of the Maya, the Popol Vuh and Chilam Balam, the Maya considered chocolate so important, they buried their nobles with jars containing the precious drink. When the Aztec emperor Moctezuma invited Hernán Cortez and his officers to a grand banquet to sample the best Aztec cuisine, chocolate drinks were on the menu.
The Kekchi Maya from Guatemala were the first to take cacao to Europe. Traveling with Dominican friars, they carried all the utensils needed to prepare chocolate drinks for King Felipe II of Spain. The Spanish guarded the secret of chocolate for 100 years.
In ancient times, chocolate was prepared as a hot or cold drink. Among the ingredients reported to have been used were honey, chile, cornmeal, vanilla, allspice, achiote and a kind of black pepper. Bishop de Landa, a Spanish priest who wrote about the Maya, said, "They make of maize and cacao a kind of foaming drink which is very savory, and with which they celebrate their feast."
Today, chocolate is still important in Mexican celebrations like the Day of the Dead. Here is a recipe for hot chocolate similar to the ancient version - using modern ingredients:
Traditional Mexican Hot Chocolate
1 tablet Mexican chocolate (The brands Abuelita, Ibarra, Morelia and Moctezuma may be found in many American supermarkets. If they're not available, substitute 3 ounces of semisweet chocolate.)
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
chile to taste
1. Break the chocolate tablet into chunks.
2. In a container with 3 cups of water, add chocolate, vanilla extract and chile to taste
3. Bring to a boil
4. When the chocolate has melted, use a molinillo (a wooden mixer) to make a layer of froth on top. If you don't have a molinillo, use a blender. If you have confidence in your aim, try creating the foam on top by pouring the hot liquid from one container to the other. Enjoy!
(Further reading: Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. London: Thames & Hudson, 1996.)
Here's the schedule for this week's blog tour:
Wednesday, November 17
The Story Behind the Story
by Rene Colato Lainez
Thursday, November 18
Mara Price interview
by Diane Browning
Friday, November 19
By Monica Olivera Hazelton
*Monday, November 22
Writing a History-based Fiction Story for Children
By Adriana Dominguez