A universal recipe for 17th century liquid chocolate: Antonio Colmener’s recommendation for the overworked
Have you ever wondered what the definition of an overworked man was in the 17th century? How many legal acts did one king sign per day? How many reputable judges and lawyers have had lawsuits each day? Or how many experienced doctors have had daily surgeries?
If you have visited the Chocolate Museum Zagreb, you know that the above-mentioned elite (in Europe) enjoyed chocolate. However, did they really have enough free time to appreciate it undisturbed?
The answers to these questions lie in Antonio Colmener’s treatise on 17th-century chocolate. All of these mentioned had their hands full every day, and often their indulgence in hot chocolate would be reduced to a few minutes a day. But to meet their fast daily anti-stress dose of chocolate, they had to prepare cocoa paste sticks in advance.
The following ingredients were needed to make them:
- 100 cocoa beans
- 2 pods of long red pepper
- 1 handful of anise
- 6 roses from Alexandria
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 dose of hazelnuts and almonds
- 0.50 kg of white sugar
Once obtained, they would prepare the sticks as follows:
All ingredients had to be dried first. Then grind the ingredients one by one, on the metate: first cinnamon, red pepper, and anise, and finally the cocoa beans. All the ground ingredients would be put in one bowl, stirred with a large spoon, and the bowl would be placed on the heated metate. The mixture would be stirred gently, taking care not to burn. When a uniform almost liquid mass was obtained, they would take a part of the paste with a spoon, put it on paper, roll the paper so that the paste would fall out in the form of sticks. The sticks would then be stored well in a cool, dark place until use.
Once the sticks were prepared, the chocolate could be quickly enjoyed at any time. All they needed to do was heat some water. After that, they would take a pre-prepared stick of cocoa paste with spices, crush it and put it in a smaller bowl. They would add sugar and heated water. They would mix everything with a molinet, and drink it with foam during short breaks.
And since you are certainly too busy to take advantage of the free Sunday, roll up your sleeves and head to the kitchen to make chocolate sticks. You will thank us later.
Martina Hukavec Vlašić, mag. hist., 11.08.2021
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