~ “A life without chocolate is a life without essence.” ~
The Aztecs considered drinking divine chocolate would give strength and fight fatigue, that one cup of this precious drink could allow a man to walk from dawn till dusk without hunger setting in.
Wherever chocolate journeyed it conquered souls and enslaved hearts. Spanish, upon the discovery of this magical elixir, whether of greed or yearn for exclusivity, sipped it secretly for nearly a century. Only the marriage of a Spanish princess to the King of France opened it to the world, or at least to the wider circles of aristocracy, so to speak.
The mere mortals could not savour chocolate until it became truly spread somewhere in the 19th century.
And this would be a good time for all chocolate lovers and addicts to take a moment and appreciate how fortunate we are to have it every day at arms reach.
Surely, the spread of chocolate around the world and access at every turn came at a cost. The process of making chocolate, hot chocolate as it used to be served, has been reduced to chalky liquid frequently served with equally poor puffs, a far cry from what it used to be.
The hot chocolate, as it arrived in Europe, or was perfected in the French court was a labour of love, a process delicate and appreciative that it is said on rare occasions Lois XV of France would prepare it himself.
The drink in question and method of creation, chocolat l’ancienne, was rich, full of vanilla, cinnamon and at times with scent of fleur d’oranger (orange blossom water), perhaps even topped with scented crème Chantilly: a cup of gold and means to breathe in magic to everyday life.
While this recipe may not be what royals used to drink, it’s still an effortless way to enjoy orange scented hot chocolate, thick, rich and more addictive with each sip. And when you think the magic has ran out at the bottom of the cup a surprise of candied orange peel awaits. But before even reaching a drop of dark chocolate, a cloud of boozed and light as feather whipped cream will great.
In short, it’s nothing more than a still moment of pure indulgence in passing life, though one worth taking.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 7 oz/200 g chocolate (min 70% cocoa), best quality possible
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
- ½ teaspoon orange blossom water
- pinch of vanilla salt (or regular sea salt)
- Crème Chantilly
- ⅓ cup whipping cream, chilled
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- few sticks of candied orange peel, optional
- ⅛ teaspoon Grand Marnier (optional)
- Add scraped vanilla seeds to milk with sugar, salt and slowly bring to simmer.
- Take off the heat and stir in chopped chocolate till smooth, followed by orange blossom water. Take of the heat and quickly reheat before serving if needed.
- Whip cream the cream with sugar and Gran Marnier (if using).
- To serve, place a pinch (about ⅛ teaspoon) of chopped candied orange peel in the bottom of the cup, pour over hot chocolate and serve with whipped cream and extra candied orange immediately.