You may be used to a hot chocolate combo with lashings of whipped cream, but other countries have their own spin on this classic drink.
We think that all hot chocolate is easy enough to drink — perhaps a little too easy. We prefer ours on the thick and creamy side, which is why we make our drinking chocolate with shaved flakes of chocolate. Enjoy nothing but pure chocolate, melted. Whilst we can’t help but think ours is the best, we enjoy seeing how other countries put their own spin on this classic concoction. From dunkable Spanish hot chocolate to Colombia’s chocolate and cheese pairings.
We also take spices that are used all over the world and use them to flavour our hot chocolate, from fiery habanero chillies to aromatic ginger with a subtle kick. We’ve carefully selected our recipes so that you can make the best hot chocolate at home.
Who made the first hot chocolate?
The history of hot chocolate is a dark and rich one. If we cast our minds all the way back to the ancient times of 1500 BC, then we can discover the birthplace of hot chocolate. Mayan civilisations worshipped xocolatl — or bitter water — which was a savoury, spicy concoction, made from crushed cocoa beans, cornmeal and chilli peppers.
Whilst we think that they were on to the right idea when it came to worshipping the cocoa bean, we’re not sure we’d enjoy the original version of hot chocolate quite as much as our own blend.
To create a frothy, foamy texture Mayans would pour the liquid to and fro two different bowls from a height. A bit like an ancient barista, but without the fancy gadgets.
Whilst we choose to drink hot chocolate for its mouthwatering taste and aroma, the Mayans had a different view on why their xocolatl was good to drink. The cocoa bean was believed to be a gift from the gods. Whoever consumed the bean was said to receive mind-altering powers and gain access to the spiritual world. It was also said to have healing powers, be a strength-booster for soldiers and an aphrodisiac.
Slowly, cocoa made its way into Europe after the Spanish conquerors decided they wanted chocolate for themselves. In the 1500s explorer Hernán Cortés presented the beans to King Charles V’s court. Unsurprisingly, the bean was a hit – but hot chocolate remained available to only the most healthy and highly-esteemed citizens.
Eventually, the discovery trickled down to the lower classes. By the 1700s chocolate had spread across Europe, finding a home in less regal regions. Drinking chocolate houses were set up over England. By 1828, cocoa powder was created by Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten, creating the modern-day hot chocolate.
Types of hot chocolate
For us, hot chocolate in its purest form involves combining cocoa, sugar and milk over a hob. However, we believe that you can get even more out of chocolate if you use the right tools to create the mouthwatering beverage. That’s why The Velvetiser was invented: designed to heat your drink chocolate to the ‘just-right’ temperature, The Velvetiser creates silky smooth results in a matter of minutes.
We took inspiration from the tools Mayans would use to make their version of the drink. Other countries have also put their own spin on the originally-savoury beverage, creating a varied and rich world of hot chocolate to explore.
Viennese hot chocolate has all the ingredients you’d expect, along with an unexpected one: egg yolk. This one might sound a little strange, but we promise you: it works. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about a fried egg plonked on top of hot chocolate. Instead, Viennese hot chocolate involves whisking an egg yolk into chocolate and milk to create a silky smooth and undeniably rich finish. Top with whipped cream for extra indulgence.
Mexican hot chocolate is perfect for those who take authenticity seriously. This subtly spiced drink has a stronger, less sweet cocoa flavour. Just as the Mayans combined spices with cocoa, Mexican hot chocolate uses cayenne to create a hot aromatic drink.
Don’t be put off with the idea of spice alongside sweet: we think chilli and chocolate goes together beautifully. In fact, we love the combination so much that we’ve made our own version. We combined habanero chillies with our drinking chocolate for a satisfying heat that will leave you feeling warm and comforted even after you’ve finished your cup.
Hot chocolate, but served in an untraditional manner. Whilst most Brits are used to stirring cocoa into milk and sugar over the hob, Argentinians serve theirs slightly back-to-front. Heated milk and sugar is served in a small jug alongside small pieces of chocolate. You then pour the chocolate into the jug, stirring as you go to make sure it’s evenly melted.
Whilst we prefer our method of hot chocolate making, Argentinian hot chocolate certainly adds a fun, hands-on twist.
Lovers of thick drinking chocolate: you may have met your match with Spanish hot chocolate. Spanish hot chocolate is served in a small mug. We might be used to a big serving of the stuff, but we promise you, half a cup is more than enough: this lusciously thick and rich drink has a silky texture and deep cocoa flavour
Spanish hot chocolate owes its thickness to the addition of cornstarch. Because of its thickness, many choose to dunk another Spanish delicacy, churros, into the mix. Think crisp, light batter, coated in creamy chocolate.
Italian hot chocolate isn’t too dissimilar to Spanish hot chocolate. Cioccolata calda is another perfect option for lovers of thick hot chocolate. With a texture more similar to a chocolate ganache or mousse, you may need a spoon to eat it. Only a small serving is required: expect it to be served in an espresso-sized cup.
Chocolate and cheese is a combination that can go well together, as long as it’s done right. If the thought of this flavour marriage daunts you then we’ve put together a guide on how to pair chocolate with cheese to help quell your fears.
In Colombia, cheese is paired with hot chocolate — but in a carefully measured way. Chucking an old piece of cheddar that you found at the back of your fridge on top of your hot chocolate is never going to taste nice. To get the most out of our chocolate and cheese combination make sure you froth your hot chocolate to achieve a light, bubbly consistency.
Once frothed, swirl in a small cube of fresh white cheese (we suggest feta) to enjoy a satisfying combination of salty and sweet.
This nation has its own version of chocolate and cheese. If Colombian hot chocolate didn’t sit quite as well with you then we suggest attempting the Chinese alternative. Whilst Chinese chocolate contains cheese, its ingredients call for cream cheese. Imagine a drinkable chocolate cheesecake, served in a mug.
The ingredient list for this type of drinking chocolate is extensive. Cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, whipped cream, cocoa powder, water, sugar, milk and ice combine for a sweet and creamy drink, lifted with a touch of rock salt.
It seems that us Europeans can’t get enough of the thick stuff. Like Italian and Spanish hot chocolate, French hot chocolate is lusciously thick. French hot chocolate has a taste that is more similar to chocolate caramel. Made from chocolate, milk, brown sugar, cream and vanilla, this drinking chocolate is rich, creamy and incredibly indulgent. The secret behind the richness of French chocolate is that it uses 70% and above chocolate. High cocoa chocolate is full of decadent cocoa notes, making each sip incredibly indulgent.
To make your very own chocolat chaud at home try using our 70% Hot Chocolate. Our drinking chocolate is not of the sugary, powdered stuff. Instead, we use grated flakes of the real thing to give you an opulent finish and flavour. Or, if you’d prefer an even more intense cocoa flavour, our 85% Hot Chocolate boasts deep cocoa flavours that aren’t too sweet, yet still surprisingly mellow.
Where will you land?
By incorporating different hot chocolate-making methods from around the globe you can instil a new lease of life into your typical hot chocolate routine. Why not take inspiration from Spanish hot chocolate and add some delicious churros?
Of course, don’t stop at making your own hot chocolate at home. Coffee also tastes better when it’s made from scratch, with love. Whichever continent you land on, we hope you find the right hot chocolate type for you.