Sunday, August 23, 2015

Felicity's Chocolate Set: History & Recipe for Colonial Hot Chocolate

Hi Followers!!

     Recently during my Ebay searches, I came across Felicity's Table and Chairs for $130. But the thing that interested me so much is that it came with her Chocolate Set. Some of you may know how valuable her Chocolate Set is and in complete good condition it can cost $130 by itself. So I snatched it up quick!
     Chocolate was mentioned in the colonies newspapers as early as 1705 when it was advertised for sale in a Boston paper. There were nearly 70 commercial chocolate producers in the colonies around that time, 69 more than in England which made chocolate more available and more affordable in the colonies. Especially when the tea tax was in place, hot chocolate became the go to drink of choice for patriots. When England snatched Jamaica from the Spanish, they then had an island of their own full of cocao plantations, which made chocolate more available to the British but with the high cost of importation, the prices were still extremely high for them. Chocolate was typically sold ground up into bricks or "cakes" wrapped in paper. In England, the cakes of chocolate were sold in small sizes, about 2-4 ounces. However, in the colonies where chocolate was more affordable, they were sold in 1 pound bricks. To give colonists another big advantage, in 1737 a Massachusetts man invented an engine that could cheaply grind 100 pounds of cocao in six hours. In pre-Revolutionary Williamsburg, unsweetened chocolate cost on average about two shillings sixpence per pound, which was affordable to the middle and upper class people. Prices fell, however, and before the nineteenth century, it had become cheap enough to be given to slaves.
     Chocolate cakes were usually premixed with sugar so you could mix it into boiling water and add whatever other extra ingredients you prefer. There were other ways chocolate was sold as well. They were sold as "nuts", "shells", and also as pure cocao seeds. People who bought the pure seeds had to roast and ground the seeds themselves. It was a long tedious process. The chocolate researcher for Colonial Williamsburg, Jim Gay explains.

The chocolate production process [he] follows involves “roasting cocoa beans, shelling them, crushing them in a large mixing bowl and transferring them to a heated grinding stone. Using an iron rolling pin, the cocoa beans are ground into a liquid and sugar and spices are added.”  Gay explained that 18th-century chocolate “isn’t something you’re used to.” Its less sweet than modern chocolate and grittier because its impossible to grind the particles that finely using hand-made processes. Gay also said that “each month [the chocolate] has a slightly different texture and flavor; the flavor profiles always [change].”

    The people that bought the chocolate shells would seep them into hot water. It is said that Martha Washington enjoyed this method because it was easier on the stomach than an oily chocolate.
    Fun fact... It was highly discouraged for quite a while for woman to consume chocolate in any form because it was believed to be an aphrodisiac.  The Virginia Almanac of 1770 cautioned women against it, warning “the fair sex to be in a particular manner careful how they meddle with romances, chocolate, novels, and the like,” especially in the spring, as those were all “inflamers” and “very dangerous.” Even though there were warnings, women were the top consumers of chocolate.
    So that is a quick history of hot chocolate in the colonies. Now lets make some! Here is what you will need! 

*A Bar of Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
     * 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
*1/8 tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper
*1/4 tsp Ground Ginger
*2 cups water
*2 cups whole milk
*1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
*Large saucepan
*2 small Saucepans
*food processor, blender, or hand grater

Makes about 4 cups!

This is the chocolate I used.
My tips to make this easier... because everything is going to be high speed!...Make sure everything is measured out and ready to be added. Also read through the steps before you start so you know what to expect. 

~So first, put the large saucepan on the stove empty at a medium heat or a bit lower. Put 2 cups of water into a small saucepan or kettle and put it on the stove on high to boil, Also put two cups of whole milk into the other small saucepan and put it on the stove to boil too. 
~While they are heating up, take half of the chocolate bar (or the whole bar if you love chocolate!) and put it in the food processor (or blender or hand grater) and grind the bar into fine granules. 
~When that is done, dump the granules into the warmed large saucepan and start whisking around while the chocolate melts. Add the spices into the pan with the chocolate, also add some sugar to taste, start with about 4 tbsp, you can always add more later. 
~By this time, your water is probably boiling. Pour it into the large saucepan and whisk it around until the water and chocolate are meshed nicely. 
~Then add your boiling milk and a splash of Vanilla extract.
~Drop the heat very low and whisk and whisk and whisk some more until everything is blended nicely and somewhat frothy. 
~Take a spoon and have a taste. If it isn't sweet enough, add some sugar. If the chocolate taste is too strong, add some more milk. 
There you are! Enjoy! Add some whipped cream or marshmallows if you like!


Alright, so you got the history, you got the recipe, let me tell you about Felicity's Chocolate Set. The set includes a silver plated chocolate pot, 2 cups, 2 plates, 2 sets of forks and spoons, 2 napkins. 
     My chocolate pot is a bad example because I noticed after buying it that it is in TLC condition. It is missing the top and chain so I used a picture off of google to show the comparison of the Pleasant Company chocolate pot and an actual chocolate pot from the 18th century.

Pleasant Company on the left. 18th Century pot on the right.
     The plate is made of porcelain I believe. The plates are hand painted and have a beautiful gold trim. The back of the plates are stamped Pleasant Company.  

     There are two versions of the cups in this set. My set is the early version so the cups are made of resin. Also hand painted with gold trim and a unique twisted handle. But this is not how a common chocolate cup in the 18th century would look. Most chocolate cups had two handles, one on each side, Sort of like a child's sippy cup.

   Fork, spoon, and napkin

       So that's it! I hope you enjoyed the history and the hot chocolate! :) 

     This week I will be heading to the release of the newest historical MaryEllen Larkin from the year 1954. I am beyond excited! I plan on taking pictures of my visit to American Girl Place Mall of America and sharing with you! Felicity will be joining me! 

    And be sure to follow me on Instagram!


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