A cold December day is the perfect time to make yourself a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy National Cocoa Day. Each year on December 13, people across the country celebrate their favorite cold weather comfort drink.
Hot cocoa is a warm beverage made with cocoa powder, heated milk or water and sugar. The terms hot chocolate and hot cocoa are often used interchangeably by Americans causing a bit of confusion. To make hot chocolate, we use ground chocolate which contains cocoa butter. It’s mixed with hot milk and is actually a drinking chocolate.
Hot chocolate is a richer beverage made from ground chocolate which contains cocoa butter. Mixed with hot milk, the resulting mug is full of chocolate flavor and the fat and calories that come with it.
Hot chocolate is also known as drinking chocolate.
For over four hundred years, Europe and the Americas have enjoyed hot chocolate. It was a drink of first the aristocracy and then the populace. This drink even had its own distinctive serving pitcher. In the 17th and 18th centuries, chocolate pots were mostly made of silver or porcelain, the two most valuable materials of the time. “Chocolate was considered exotic and expensive,” says Sarah Coffin of the Smithsonian Museum. “It was a rare commodity and so it was associated with luxury objects such as silver, and of course in the early days, porcelain.”
Coffee and chocolate pots whimsical and ornate graced the 18th-century table.
I have my grandmother’s chocolate pot. It is porcelain and is decorated with pink flowers. Since pink was her favorite color, this makes perfect sense to me. She didn’t own a silver service, but instead had a chocolate pot and coffee pot that she used with various china cups and saucers. Nanna was the one who I enjoyed having a tea party with.
We sat in her living room, and she would bring in a silver tray loaded with her chocolate pot, cloth napkins, and shortbread cookies. If it was in the spring or summer, she would also include a small vase with fresh flowers on it. As the lovely hostess she was, with her gift of hospitality, she served me first.
For years, I held the cup with both hands, and that cup was only half-full. Being served a full cup of hot chocolate and holding it in the saucer was a turning point for me. I felt like the lady I knew she was.
Looking back to these times, I treasure the memories. Jane Austen and her friends had nothing on us. It was truly our world within a changing world. The tea party didn’t survive into my generation.
Hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder. Through the fermentation, drying, roasting and grinding process of cocoa beans a paste called chocolate liquor is produced. Through another process, the cocoa butter is separated leaving cocoa powder. It is this cocoa powder that we use to make hot cocoa. It has very little fat and calories and is mixed with either hot milk or water.
Both cocoa powder and cocoa paste are enjoyed in a variety of combinations, topped with whipped cream or marshmallows. Sometimes a sprinkle of cinnamon or a dash of peppermint makes the chocolate extra special.
Liz Fourez shares this. “I’ve been drinking this new hot chocolate a lot lately, and it is honestly the creamiest, most delicious hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. Just the right amount of chocolate with no bitterness, perfectly sweet, and so, so creamy… I think you guys are going to love the new recipe!
If you want to make a SINGLE SERVING of hot chocolate, here is the recipe:
- 3 tablespoons powdered creamer
- 3 tablespoons powdered milk
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1½ tablespoons cocoa powder
- optional: marshmallows, for garnish”
So let’s enjoy a cup of hot chocolate today to celebrate National Cocoa Day! Sitting down to take a minute during this busy time off the year can be a blessing, whether shared with someone else or not.