Sunday, 10 August 2008

i wanna be a chocolate god post 4: enlightenment



Sweet Jeebus. After making this, I think I'm going to become a hot chocolate activist and lobby to have this sort of thing declared "real hot chocolate" and everything else clearly labelled as "a vague suggestion of what hot chocolate might be if it were done all the way". The "just add soy milk and stir" or even "melt really good chocolate into the soy/nut milk of your choice, along with a few spices" has got nothing on the crazy elaborate preparations from the enlightenment. Drinking this sure enlightened me. Hot chocolate cobbled together from a few different 16-18th century recipes, most of which are already vegan! Yay!: For 8 people: Start with 1 batch almond/hazelnut milk (I made this in the soy milk maker). Place the milk in a pot with mortar and pestled: generous 1/2 tsp annatto, 1 heaping tsp anisseed, a scant tsp of strong cinnamon (the kind used in indian cooking), 3-5 cloves, as many candied rose petals as you want - I used about two tablespoons. Add a whole vanilla bean and an ancho chilli (deseeded), both were dried, so I just cut them into strips with scissors, since the whole mess is going to be strained later. Heat this all to a simmer, then turn it off and let it sit for a few hours (I left it for about 8 hours) This should be a) bright orange (yup, that's it in the pot, with the tomato for comparison) b) not sweet and c) kinda thin. Then, strain the whole thing into a pot, and dissolve about 150 g of good dark chocolate in it (I used 75% untempered chocolate from Valhrona) plus a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa. Sweeten to taste with agave. Drink. It will become immediately clear why this is considered an aphrodisiac. I nearly went off in my pants while drinking it.

You really do need to let the almond/hazelnut milk and spices sit for a good few hours. When I tried a little sample of it early on in the afternoon, it was quite jarring, but by the evening, all the flavours had rounded out and melded. There was a bit left, and we had it for breakfast, and I have to say that it was even better. Next time I think I'll start the hot chocolate the day before and let it steep (before the straining step) overnight. Oh, and this is not suitable for american "serving sizes". I served it in small cups, which I think amounted to just over half a cup per serving.

Just for the record, I am completely and utterly unable to understand how anyone sees being vegan as deprivation.

music of the gods for the drink of the gods: dead can dance

10 comments:

Jake said...

testing...

Jake said...

damn. Okay, I said:

Did the medieval recipe really call for almond/hazelnut milk? And then I rambled for a bit about my assumptions about when various not-milks were invented. And then I talked about how the new neighbourhood will hopefully be better able to provide exciting ingredients. I may have gotten excited about how awesome the recipe sounds. I can't be bothered to type it all out again.

sinead said...

Yup. The idea of dissolving chocolate in cow's milk is a relatively new one. All the old recipes I have seen call for some combo of almond/hazelnut milk, water, or sweet wine to be used as the liquid. I have to say that the taste of almonds and hazelnuts really adds to the overall stupendous richness of the drink.

Almond milk and ground almonds are actually really common in medieval recipes. Keep in mind that the very fact that a recipe was in a book meant that it was intended for very very well-off people, since most people would never be able to afford a book, and even if they could, would be unable to read it.

medici said...

This was stupendous, btw. It was a hot chocolate revelation and it makes modern versions seem insipid and not worthwhile. I also loved the color.

Those olden-day folks did it up right when it came to hot chocolate. Drinking this did make me want to break out into iambic pentameter. Perhaps I still will.

Jake, I also had probems posting - but it turns out that I was merely not signed in, a trivial explanation. But five (5) of my posts disappeared into the aether! It was shocking. I hope that you try the hot chocolate. The almond and hazelnut flavors were evident (although subtle), and the nut milk viscosity was just right.

sinead said...

oh, and the almond/hazelnut milk and spices get thicker as they sit. That's another reason that the all-day steeping makes a huge difference. Between that and the actual melted chocolate in it, I'd say the end consistency is about the same as heavy cream.

If you can't find almond/hazelnut milk, just buy ground almonds/hazelnuts, and use that. I'd use 1 cup of ground nuts in 4 cups water. You strain the whole thing before adding the chocolate anyway. I just used the soy milk maker to make the straining step go faster so the nut meat wouldn't clog up the cheesecloth. I wouldn't actually buy almond milk unless you can find unsweetened, since I barely added any sweetener at the end of this. I think I used about 2 tablespoons of agave for the whole pot, which I could have easily left out had I not wanted this to be a dessert all on it's own.

Jake said...

Cool. I didn't actually suspect the original had cow's milk, I just thought it would be water or something else that comes in liquid form. You know, because I didn't encounter legume/grain/nut milks until I was a teenager, so I figured they couldn't possibly have been invented before then. ahem.

sinead said...

http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/medieval.html

When I started looking for recipes for Ducky's Modern Medieval, I was shocked at the amount of almonds. Shocked! I think the almond craze had calmed slightly by the enlightenment, but there seems to be a fair amount of it in cooking up until the end of Elizabethan recipes (well, the ones that are veg-based).

Something to keep in mind is that there were an insane number of fasting days in the old Church, so religious communities actually made a lot of vegan "omnisubs" from almonds.

Liz² said...

*falls in absolute lust with that list of spices/secret chocolate heaven components*

this is seriously pushing me towards making some sort of medieval banquet. I've been fantasizing about hunks of dark bread and thick pea soups and things, and with chocolate to round everything out... I think this has gotta happen!

The Voracious Vegan said...

I'm stunned. Must try this recipe NOW! Amazing amazing...

sinead said...

Yay! I'm glad that this post is getting so much interest! Please make sure to read the next post on ethical chocolate!