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Hot Chocolate Versus Hot Cocoa

Do you enjoy drinking a wonderful cup of hot chocolate or hot cocoa on a cold winter’s night? When enjoying this luscious concoction do you use the terms interchangeably? Though the two drinks have similarities that make it common practice to use the terms interchangeably the history of chocolate shows that there are differences.

First, let’s look at the history of hot cocoa that goes back to when the cacao tree was believed to be discovered more then 2,000 years ago within the rain forests of America. The pods from this tree are used to make cocoa powder. Maya Indians of Central America and Aztec Indians of Mexico have cultivated the beans for a long time, even before Christopher Columbus entered America in 1492. It is not known how long the Indians of these tribes had been cultivating the beans. The Aztecs ground the beans which made a rich beverage for their enjoyment.

It is not known who first learned to grow cacao. The cacao beans were important in the lives of Maya people of Central Mexico as early as the third century. The beans were used to make hot and cold drinks, food powders, and medicine. They were used at religious ceremonies and sometimes for money. The drink the Aztecs made from cacao beans was known as cacahuatl. The ground up beans were combined with powdered chilies, cornmeal, and other spices. Water was added and the mixture was poured from jug to jug until frothy. However, some believe Aztecs may have used a wooden stick to make the froth. The drink became thick and tasted peppery.

People of this time liked the new concoction, especially, an Aztec king Montezuma II who is said to have taken no other drink. The cold bitter drink was tasted by Hernan Cortes in 1519. He did not like the combination, but knowing the value he brought beans back along with a recipe when he arrived back in Spain. The recipe became top secret among the Spanish nobility who liked it better sweetened. Therefore sugar, honey, and even orange or rose water were used to sweeten the beverage. Someone whose name is not known came up with the idea to try the drink hot instead of the normal cold of the time. Therefore, hot cocoa became a known beverage.

The beverage could not remain a secret long as travelers were taking a special interest in this new drink. In 1615, a Spanish princess wed a French prince and gave him the gift of chocolate. The chocolate drink no longer remained a secret after that. People all over Europe went wild over the chocolate. Around the 1770’s drink shops were built to sell chocolate drinks. People in Europe could then sit and enjoy the beverage while discussing the day’s issues. The drinks became so popular factories began production. To begin with the drink was consumed among the higher classes, but as chocolate became cheaper more people were able to afford the luxury.

Coenrad J. Van Houten, a dutch chemist created a press to squeeze out more of the oily cocoa butter from the beans in 1828. Therefore, people for the first time could consume hot cocoa made from a dry, fine powder unlike the cocoa before. After that, cocoa powder came into being. The first hot cocoa after his invention was made with alkaline salts and was prepared by Van Houten.

The new form of chocolate drink was less acidic and blended better with milk and water than before. Hot cocoa is prepared by taking cocoa powder ,then adding milk, water, and sweeteners and combining the ingredients. Cocoa comes from cocoa powder which is pressed to release the richness. The powder used in cocoa is unsweetened. Cocoa comes from powdered mix, sugar, and thickeners.

In the 1840’s hot chocolate came around. This is when it was first discovered by Van Houten that extra cocoa butter could be added to chocolate liquor and sugar to make a solid mold of chocolate. The first chocolate bars were made by three Englishmen – John and Benjamin Cadbury, and Joseph Fry. To make this molded chocolate the cocoa butter and sugar were added to chocolate liquor then mixed well.

The mixture at first is usually a little gritty. To get smoother candy the mixture goes through a refining machine. Steel rollers in rotation over it crush the small particles of sugar and chocolate. To achieve the best texture the chocolate must go through conching. This process of conching begins with Rodolphe Lindt who invented it in Switzerland in 1893. The chocolate when going through this process is kneaded in a trough which gives it a smooth texture. He also invented machines to help knead and mix chocolate. Sometimes extra cocoa butter is added during the process of conching, but the process is what harmonizes flavors. Now hot chocolate could be made from this solid bar of chocolate.

Hot chocolate on the other hand is made straight from the candy bar after the bar is ground or shaved. Hot chocolate has more cocoa butter than the powder used to make cocoa. Therefore, hot chocolate should be a richer beverage. Hot chocolate combines milk and semisweet chocolate to give the drink its taste, but can be enjoyed with dark, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate.

Unsweetened chocolate or baking chocolate can also be used to make hot chocolate. To make unsweetened chocolate the liquor is cooled and hardened. The liquor is the liquid extracted from the cocoa bean. Unsweetened chocolate is the most basic form of chocolate. Dark or bittersweet chocolate consist of at least 34 percent cacao solids. The higher the percentage of cacao solids the better taste.

Semi-sweet chocolate has extra cocoa butter added. More sugar is added to semi-sweet chocolate than other types of chocolate. Milk chocolate is a creamy sweet concoction. Extra cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla are added to make milk chocolate. White chocolate can also be used in making hot chocolate. When using it the drink is usually called white hot chocolate. Chocolate that is not white consist of cocoa butter and cocoa. White chocolate is made of cocoa butter but no cocoa.Because white chocolate does not have cocoa it is not considered to be real chocolate. It normally has sugar, milk, and a mixture of other flavorings.

In Switzerland, white chocolate found its beginning in the years after World War I. It contains more cocoa butter. Therefore it is more expensive. Two Swiss men named, Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle brought the world luscious milk chocolate in 1879. A process was discovered to combine milk and cocoa powder, therefore bringing the world the first milk chocolate bar. Rodolphe Lindt introduced adding cocoa butter to make chocolate have a smoother texture in 1879. Even with milk chocolate already being produced this process made it smoother. Lindt also invented a conche, a shell-shaped machine to mix the ingredients for milk chocolate.

Despite the differences, there are still a few similarities between hot chocolate and hot cocoa. These drinks both start out from the cocoa bean. They both contain chocolate liquor because that is the product of all chocolate concoctions. Both drinks can have milk as one of the ingredients or can be prepared using boiling water. Hot chocolate and hot cocoa are both sometimes mixed with spices before being consumed. Vanilla can be added to both drinks before drinking. Both are wonderful beverages we sip on cold winter nights.

To further go into the differences we will delve into how cocoa powder and eating chocolate are prepared. To make cocoa powder, chocolate liquor is pumped into giant hydraulic presses. Pressure is applied in the presses to remove cocoa butter. Fat is drained through screens. The fat is collected to be used later in chocolate making. A pressed cake is left after the cocoa butter is removed. This cake can be cooled, pulverized, or sifted to create the wonderful concoction we call cocoa.

Eating chocolate on the other hand is made by adding cocoa butter instead of removing. This is the case with all types of chocolate. The mixture of ingredients for eating chocolate goes through heavy rollers made with one on top of the other. Grinding takes place here to make the mixture into a smooth paste. The paste then goes through conching. This process is like kneading as heavy rollers go back and forth through the chocolate mixture. The rollers go over it for several hours or days. Machines such as these cause variations in chocolate flavors. After the conching machine, heating, cooling, and reheating occurs. At last, the mold is formed to complete the production of eating chocolate.

Within the year 1765, chocolate first came to the United States. Chocolate spread at a faster pace in the United States than in other countries. The first chocolate factory to ever be opened started in 1765.This mill was located in Dorchester, MA. In, 1893, Milton Hershey attended an exposition where he purchased German chocolate machinery. He started producing chocolate-coated caramels with these machines. In 1894, he went into business with his own factory, Hershey Chocolate Company. The company made caramels, breakfast cocoa, sweet chocolate, and baking chocolate. In 1900, Milton Hershey introduced the milk chocolate bar we know as a Hershey bar. This bar of candy is the popular Hershey candy bar we enjoy until this day.

The ingredients for the first cocoa recipe were one hundred cocoa beans, two chilies, a handful of anise seed, two vanilla seeds, two drams cinnamon and a dozen almonds and a dozen hazelnuts. Then pounded white sugar was added. Annatto gave the drink its color. The beverage was prepared cold when it was made this way. Hot cocoa is made by taking cocoa powder and combining it with milk, water, and sweeteners.

Hot chocolate is made with real chocolate as the basic ingredient. Whipping cream can be added to top off hot chocolate, while many recipes do not add it to hot cocoa. Hot chocolate has more cocoa butter than the powder used for cocoa .Therefore it should be a richer beverage. The candy bar for hot chocolate can be ground or in other forms. In Europe, hot chocolate was known as drinking chocolate and made with large hunks of chocolate melted, then combined with milk or boiling water. Drinking chocolate makes up the original Swiss hot chocolate. Hot chocolate already has cocoa, sugar, and cocoa butter because it comes from the candy bar.

Real hot chocolate is made using unsweetened or semisweet chocolate, sugar, and milk. Chocolate is broken or chopped into pieces. The two pieces or placed in a saucepan along with the milk. The mixture is then cooked on medium heat until it boils. Then more milk is added to the mixture. Real hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder, sugar, and milk. The ingredients are put in a saucepan and all the milk is added. This drink does not come to a boil. As soon as the steam forms the drink is done. Instant cocoa mix consist of nonfat dry milk powder, powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, and powdered non-diary creamer.

Hot cocoa is made by dried partly fermented seeds. The seeds are ground to remove cocoa butter from solid cocoa that is bitter and dark. A cocoa pod is at least 3 centimeters thick. The cocoa pod is enclosed in a rough leathery rind. Pulp that is sweet fills the pods. Within the pulp lay 30 to 50 seeds/beans. The seeds/beans are pink purple in color and shaped like almonds.

Through the history of hot chocolate and hot cocoa, we have discovered the differences and similarities these luscious beverages have. As you enjoy your next cup of hot chocolate or cocoa you will now know which one you’re consuming.