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Adventures of a Wayward Sailor
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Off the 18thCWoman email list comes this video from Colonial Williamsburg about making chocolate from cacao. The video just shows them roasting, hulling, and grinding the beans, but is still pretty neat.

I figure there're enough people interested in cacao & chocolate on my friends list for this to be worth reposting. :)
8th-Dec-2007 06:11 pm - O Frabjous Day!
me in woods in garb
Thanks to the generosity of iarwain, I now have a pound of raw dried cacao beans. This is as close to from-the-tree as I'm gonna get. As you may have noticed, I've been having a lot of fun playing around with the late 16th & early 17th century recipes for chocolate.

I've eaten a couple of the beans raw just to try them, and I think this is going to solve my major problem with this recipe. I've been having to double the amount of sugar in the original recipe in order to make the stuff stick together (by melting the sugar and using it as a binding agent), but the oils in the raw beans ought to do that for me. Heaven knows they're solid enough at room temperature in my house, which admittedly is only in the high thirties right now.

More intriguingly, I think between Brian and I we may have figured out both what some of the original ingredients were and where they can be gotten today. Using JSTOR, there are references to "rose of Alexandria" or "rose of Castile" as possibly another term for hollyhock, but nothing (from what I found) placing this particular association solidly within the range of period. Nicholas Monardes mentions "Roses of Alexandria" as the Spanish Damascus Rose, which modern botanist Graham Stuart Thomas alleges has survived to the present as the Autumn Damask Rose (Rose Book 304). iarwain was the one to finally track down a source of raw cacao beans, as well as a supplier for logwood seeds.

In other news, the back-bred 16th century flint corn I was given by Plimoth Plantation grew pretty well this year, and I have a small amount of corn to play with. I've read variations on the chocolate recipe that called for cooking the corn grits in the chocolate drink, creating a sort of pudding. Between my home-grown period corn, my bartering skills, and my fishing trips under sail and by handline, my goal for Northern Lights this year is to have at least one entry where nothing was purchased. So far, it looks promising.
30th-Nov-2007 12:52 pm - Chocolate info
my arms
Hi, if you're wandering over from the thread on chocolate in sca (or the reaction thread in sca_snark), my information on chocolate-making can be found by clicking the chocolate tag.

If you want more specific access, pictures of my first attempt at chocolate-making are in this entry.

Better documentation and elaboration on some of my choices is in this entry.

A neat article on the worldview behind European chocolate drinking and the European redactions of various Mesoamerican recipes can be found at the American Historical Review. (Nota bene: I'm not Marcy Norton; I just wrote a term paper on this subject in grad school and this was a very useful article for me.)

If you've got questions about the origins or arrival of just about any other foodstuff, check out the Food Timeline. (Again, nota bene - I didn't make this particular site, but I find it invaluable.)

Hope some of this is useful. I don't have all my work online, obviously, but I'm always willing to talk someone's ear off if you leave a comment or email me.

Yours in Service,
Elinor Strangewayes
All my friends live in my computer
 
Tablets of Drinking Chocolate in the Spanish Style
 
100 cocoa beans
2 cods red chili pepper (approximately 1/2 tsp)
1 handful aniseed (quarter-sized mound in palm, powdered)
2 mecaxóchitl flowers (a dash of pepper was substituted)
2 drams cinnamon (1/2 tsp)
12 almonds
12 hazelnuts
1 cup sugar
 
Grind the cinnamon, anise, and chili peppers together. Grind cocoa beans to a fine powder, and add the first ingredients. Grind the nuts with a few spoonfuls of the cocoa beans, and add to the rest of the mix. Take a heavy skillet and put on low flame. Add the cocoa powder and sugar. Stir constantly until the beans darken and the sugar melts. Pour the paste out onto wax paper. When cool, break into tablets and store in a box.

 
To every 100 Cacaos, you must put two cods of the long red Pepper, of which I have spoken before, and are called, in the Indian Tongue, Chilparlagua; and in stead of those of the Indies, you may take those of Spaine; which are broadest, and least hot. One handfull of Annis-seed Orejuelas, which are otherwise called Vinacaxlidos: and two of the flowers, called Mechasuehil, if the Belly be bound. But in stead of this, in Spaine, we put in sixe Roses of Alexandria beat to Powder: One Cod of Campeche, or Logwood: Two Drams of Cinamon, Almons, and Hasle-Nuts, of each one Dozen: Of white Sugar, halfe a pound: Of Achiote, enough to give it the colour. And if you cannot have those things, which come from the Indies, you may make it with the rest.

 

 
- Antonio Colmenero, tran. Don Diego de Vades-forte. “A Curious Treatise of the Nature and Quality of Chocolate.” Published in London in 1640, in Spain before 1631.

 

 
Marcy Norton’s helpful article “Tasting Empire: Chocolate and the European Internalization of Mesoamerican Aesthetics[1]” explains that orejuelas is a Spanish translation of the Nahuatl words gueynacaztle (“great ear”) and xochinacaztli (“flowery ear”), two flowers that were used as spices. What Colmenero calls Mechasuehil is probably mecaxóchitl, which Norton describes as a relative of pepper with an anise-like taste. Since I had neither of these things “which [came] from the Indies,” I substituted some anise for approximate flavor. Colmenero says that Campeche tastes like fennel. I elected to leave fennel out, as I’m not fond of the licorice taste and there was already too much of it with the anise. Achiote (Bixa orellana, also known as annatto) gave the chocolate a reddish color and had a slightly “musky” flavor. Marcy Norton compares the taste to paprika or saffron. I could not get achiote, and so made my chocolate without – which is a perfectly period practice, as Colmenero points out: “And if you cannot have those things, which come from the Indies, you may make it with the rest.” Using JSTOR, there are references to "rose of Alexandria" or "rose of Castile" as possibly another term for hollyhock, but nothing (from what I found) placing this particular association solidly within the range of period. Nicholas Monardes mentions "Roses of Alexandria" as the Spanish Damascus Rose, which modern botanist Graham Stuart Thomas alleges has survived to the present as the Autumn Damask Rose (Rose Book 304). 

 

 
Process:
The Cacao, and the other Ingredients must be beaten in a Morter of Stone, or ground upon a broad stone, which the Indians call Metate, and is onely made for that use: But the first thing that is to be done, is to dry the Ingredients, all except the Achiote; with care that they may be beaten to powder, keeping them still in stirring, that they be not burnt, or become blacke; and if they be over-dried, they will be bitter, and lose their vertue. The Cinamon, and the long red Pepper are to be first beaten, with the Annis-seed; and then beate the Cacao, which you must beate by a little and little, till it be all powdred; and sometimes turn it round in the beating, that it may mixe the better: And every one of these Ingredients, must be beaten by it selfe; and then put all the Ingredients into the Vessell, where the Cacao is; which you must stirre together with a spoone, and then take out that Paste, and put it into the Morter, under which you must lay a little fire, after the Confection is made. But you must be very carefull, not to put more fire, than will warme it, that the unctuous part does not dry away. And you must also take care, to put in the Achiote in the beating; that it may the better take the colour. You must Searse all the Ingredients, but onely the Cacao; and if you take the shell from the Cacao, it is the better; and when you shall find it to be well beaten, and incorporated (which you shall know by the shortnesse of it) then with a spoone take up some of the Paste, which will be almost liquid; and so either make it into Tablets; or put it into Boxes, and when it is cold it will be hard. To make the Tablets, you must put a spoonefull of the paste upon a piece of paper, the Indians put it upon the leaf of a Planten-tree; where, being put into the shade, it growes hard; and then bowing the paper, the Tablet falls off, by reason of the fatnesse of the paste. But if you put it into any thing of earth, or wood, it sticks fast, and will nor come off, but with scraping, or breaking.
 
I used a coffee grinder to grind my beans to powder, since I’d done the practice run by hand and been unable to get a sufficient fineness to my mix. The mortar and pestle was used for mixing and re-grinding. All my ingredients came dried. The cocoa beans came in the form of nibs I got at the local health-food store. I’m still not sure how the paste works – I heated mine until the sugar melted and served as the binding agent.

 

 
My practice run:
I took 1/2 cup raw cocoa beans and ground them to a rough powder in my mortar and pestle. I was going to do a full cup, but my arms were going to fall off. I then added (all measurements approximate) 1/2 tsp chilis, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp anise. I didn’t have annatto or the nuts, so I left them out. I threw that all into a pot and melted down a cup of sugar with it. I am aware that that is too much sugar for the amount of beans I was using, but I couldn’t get the stuff to stick together.
The whole thing was poured out onto waxed paper and cooled off. In period, it'd be pressed into boxes for transport. Then pieces get broken off and boiled in water for a drink, and served in several different ways. I licked the spoon after it re-solidified, and I'm very startled with how tasty it actually is. I hate chilies, but it's just the perfect bite.
I tried a piece of the chocolate in some milk the next morning – it was tasty, but far too sweet. There definitely needs to be a finer ratio, probably with the cocoa beans ground finer as well. I also left the sugar on too long, and it got heavily caramelized. Well, now I know.

 

 
 
 
 
Drinking Chocolate
 
There is another way to drinke Chocolate, which is cold; and it takes its name from the principall Ingredient, and is called Cacao; which they use at feasts, to refresh themselves; and it is made after this manner. The Chocolate being dissolved in water with the Molinet, take off the scumme, or crassy part, which riseth in greater quantity, when the Cacao is older, and more putrified. The scumme is laid aside by it selfe in a little dish; and then put sugar into that part, from whence you took the scumme; and powre it from on high into the scumme; and so drinke it cold.
 
- Antonio Colmenero, tran. Don Diego de Vades-forte. “A Curious Treatise of the Nature and Quality of Chocolate.” Published in London in 1640, in Spain before 1631.

 

 
Redaction:
Take a cup of water. Break off a piece of chocolate tablet (about 2 inches square, in this batch). After heating the water, use a wooden spoon (a molinet is a wooden stirring stick or spoon) to beat the tablet into the water. Skim anything that floats to the surface and set aside. If necessary, add more sugar to the water; otherwise, pour the chocolate-water back into the foam. Serve cold.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


[1] The American Historical Review, Vol. 111, Issue 3.
15th-Feb-2007 05:56 pm - Experiments with chocolate-making
my arms
One of my A&S projects for Northern Lights this year is chocolate. I found a really neat pamphlet which just clings barely to the edge of period (Antonio Colmenero, tran. Don Diego de Vades-forte. “A Curious Treatise of the Nature and Quality of Chocolate.” Published in London in 1640, in Spain before 1631.) and decided I wanted to redact the Spanish recipe for making tablets of drinking chocolate:
To every 100 Cacaos, you must put two cods of the long red Pepper, of which I have spoken before, and are called, in the Indian Tongue, Chilparlagua; and in stead of those of the Indies, you may take those of Spaine; which are broadest, and least hot. One handfull of Annis-seed Orejuelas, which are otherwise called Vinacaxlidos: and two of the flowers, called Mechasuehil, if the Belly be bound. But in stead of this, in Spaine, we put in sixe Roses of Alexandria beat to Powder: One Cod of Campeche, or Logwood: Two Drams of Cinamon, Almons, and Hasle-Nuts, of each one Dozen: Of white Sugar, halfe a pound: Of Achiote, enough to give it the colour. And if you cannot have those things, which come from the Indies, you may make it with the rest.


Pictures of the processCollapse )
I tried a piece of the chocolate in some milk this morning – it’s tasty, but far too sweet. There definitely needs to be a finer ratio, probably with the cocoa beans ground finer as well. I also left the sugar on too long, and it’s heavily caramelized. Well, now I know.

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