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drink-choc-Sp-art - 7/5/08


"Tablets of Drinking Chocolate in the Spanish Style" by Lady Elinor Strangewayes.


NOTE: See also the files: chocolate-msg, nuts-msg, peppers-msg, fd-Spain-msg, cinnamon-msg, Cinnamon-Vari-art, sugar-msg, Candying-art, 3-Span-Sweets-art.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



More of this author's work can be found at: http://hakerh.livejournal.com/243697.html


Tablets of Drinking Chocolate in the Spanish Style

by Lady Elinor Strangewayes


100 cocoa beans

2 cods red chili pepper (approximately 1/2 tsp)

1 handful aniseed (quarter-sized mound in palm, powdered)

2 mecax—chitl 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 Aestheticshttp://www.livejournal.com/stc/fck/editor/fckblank.html#_ftn1">[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 mecax—chitl, 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).






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.





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.



Raw cocoa nibs



Raw cocoa nibs, ground to rough powder



Cocoa powder with sugar, starting to melt



Cocoa and melted sugar



Pouring the mixture out to cool






Copyright 2008 by Sarah O'Connor. <strangewayes at gmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org