A Love Affair with Chocolate

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A love affair with chocolate- dark, milk or white, in all of its delicious forms dates back for centuries.

A Love Affair with Chocolate


A Love Affair with Chocolate

Chocolate has complemented menus since its inception.

Chocolate is as rich in its history as it is in its flavor.  The true art of chocolate began thousands of years ago. The first domesticated cacao plants are known to have existed in 1800-300 B.C.E., growing in the humid lowlands of the Mexican Gulf coast of Central America.

The ancient Maya, 200-900 C.E., consumed chocolate, course and grainy in consistency, as a frothy, spicy drink used in ceremonies and celebrations.

The Aztec, 1200-1500, revered chocolate as a luxury drink for nobility, warriors, rituals and ceremonies. The cacao seeds were used as currency.

The Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez, 1519, in his quest for gold in the new world was introduced to “chocolatl”, a warm liquid in a golden goblet, by the great Aztec leader Montezuma II.  Due to the bitter taste, it was Cortez who conceived the idea of adding cane sugar to sweeten the beverage.

Finding favor upon its arrival back in Spain, the drink would have several transformations, adding new spices, including vanilla and cinnamon.  Spain manage

to keep their concoctions a secret for almost one hundred years. When a group of Spanish monks eventually divulged the secret, it wasn’t long before chocolate was embraced by the European continent- dominating the Court of France. Great Britain, in 1657, opened the first chocolate house.

Technology to process and manufacture the cacao seed, combined with creative advertising touting both the health and enjoyment factors, popularized chocolate in many forms, to new heights. London, England alone had, in the years 1700-1800, two thousand chocolates houses.

Like tea, chocolate in North America is pre-Revolutionary. 1765 dates New England’s first chocolate factory.

The precious commodities tea, chocolate and sugar all coincided at the tables of the aristocracy.

Unfortunately, the trade success of chocolate resulted in the exploitation of slave labor in the Meso American and African people. According to the American Museum of Natural History “at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the price of ONE TEASPOON of sugar was approximately equal to the monetary value of ONE DAY in a slaves life.”

Ninety percent of chocolate’s history attributes consumption to be in the liquid form. The advent of inventions in 1776 of the hydraulic machine to grind cacao seeds into paste by Frenchman Doret and the cocoa press in 1828, by Dutch chemist Coenraad Van Houten, allowed chocolate be consistent and less expensive to produce.

The Quaker family, Fry & Sons, of Bristol, England created, in 1847, the first solid fondant chocolate for eating. In 1868, Richard Cadbury introduced the first boxed and Valentine’s Day candy box. Further succeeded, in the 1870s, by the Swiss families of Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle developed the world’s first milk chocolate bar using the Nestles powdered milk formula.  A few years later, Rodophe Lindt’s invented a machine to churn a paste into a smooth, velvety textured blend.

The end of the nineteenth century, in 1893, at the World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago, Milton S. Hershey purchased a German processing machine and used it to establish his factory in Southern Pennsylvania.  Hershey is now the largest chocolate manufacturer in the world.

During World War Two, 1941-45, the military received almost the entire chocolate production in the Untied States.  To this day, the United States Army D rations contain three, four ounce chocolate bars.

Chocolate now graces the tea table in many incarnations. There are unlimited recipes available to make your next afternoon tea a very sweet affair.


 The Maya’s created pottery, with the word/ symbol for chocolate embedded in the vessels. {View at the American Museum of Natural History, NYC, NY}

The Meissen Porcelain factory, 1710 to present day, manufactured some of the first European chocolate pots, cups and saucers for the sole purpose of chocolate consumption.

A Love Affair with Chocolate

The Cardinals, at the Vatican, in Italy, designated chocolate as the preferred drink of choice while in conference to elect a new Pope.

1926-27 The NEW YORK COCOA EXCHANGE, INC. was established.

 The 1930s depression era sold nearly 40,000 varieties of chocolate in the Untied States.

1992 The Untied States space shuttle Columbia carried chocolate into outer space.

Theobroma, part of the scientific name of the cacao tree, means “food of the Gods”, in Greek.

Cacao seeds contain caffeine, but in very small amounts. One ounce of milk chocolate contains the same amount of caffeine as one cup of decaffeinated coffee.

Chocolate does not cause acne or tooth decay.

The same natural anti oxidants, called flavonoids that exist in tea are found in chocolate.

The difference between dark, milk and white chocolate are the components of Cocoa Beans plus cocoa butter equals cocoa percentage.  White chocolate comes from the same plant as dark chocolate but uses the butter instead of the liquor when processing.


A Love Affair with Chocolate

Basic icings are an easy and versatile way to add chocolate into a menu.


  • May be used as an icing, filling or as the foundation to make truffles.
  • 14 OZ. bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, broken into pieces;
  • 3 Tablespoons strong coffee, espresso or water;
  • 1-teaspoon pure vanilla extract.  Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, if available.
  • ½ cup sugar- confectioners, granulated or light brown;
  • ¾ cup heavy cream or milk;
  • Optional: 1/8-teaspoon pinch of salt to taste

In a double boiler over a low heat melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Do NOT allow to boil.  Add in all other ingredients and stir until smoothly blended.


  • 1 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup Droste Dutch Cocoa
  • 3 Tablespoons of water or milk
  • 1 teaspoon Nielsen Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla.

Place all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir until blended together.  Add more liquid if a thinner texture is desired.  Yield: 2 cups.


  • 3 sticks of unsalted sweet butter (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 cup un-sweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 cups confectioners sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder or instant coffee.

In a large mixing bowl whisk the cocoa.  Cream the butter and cocoa together until well blended. Slowly add in the sugar and milk. Add vanilla extract and coffee.  If too dry add more milk one tablespoon at a time.  If too wet add more confectioners sugar one tablespoon at a time.  Yield: one two layer cake.

Copy, photos and recipes are Copyright© of Ellen Easton.


  • Ellen Easton, author of Afternoon Tea~Tips, Terms and Traditions(RED WAGON PRESS), an afternoon tea authority, lifestyle and etiquette industry leader, keynote speaker and product spokesperson, is a hospitality, design, and retail consultant whose clients have included the Waldorf=Astoria, the Plaza and Bergdorf Goodman. Easton’s family traces their tea roots to the early 1800s, when ancestors first introduced tea plants from India and China to the Colony of Ceylon, thus building one of the largest and best cultivated teas estates on the island.

3 Responses

  1. Mercedes says:

    Food of the gods Medicine of tomorrow Best addiction ever Sensuous intimate sensation. You can say sorry thank you happy….. Versatile and Noble chocolate is. Ellen tells the way it came to us and what you can do make with it!!!! glorious recipies Happy Valentine Wonderful Ellen chocolate is Love???

  2. Debra Geller says:

    Too pretty to eat!

  3. Rick says:

    Another brilliant piece by the amazing Ms Easton. Now she has hit my Achilles heel. Chocolate. Oh my gosh. The recipes, the stories and the photos has left me in need fir a chocolate infusion. Kudos again Ms Easton. I am in a choco fog now!

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