Chocolate was introduced to England in the 1650s. However, it wasn’t eaten in the solid form we’re used it. It was a drink. It wasn’t even the sweet Cadbury’s instant chocolate powder that most people take for drinking chocolate. It was a complex and time consuming process that required a lot of skill.
First cocoa beans were roasted and the brittle shell removed which revealed the internal nib. Chocolate nibs are not all bad but they certainly don’t have a delightful taste that chocolate does. More work was needed. The nibs were rolled with a heavy stone and heated, the friction of which turned them into a liquid paste which was set as a bar – known as a chocolate cake. The longer the nibs were rolled the better they tasted.
To make the drinking chocolate the cake was broken up and heated with either water, wine or other alcohol. Lots of different spices could be added to give extra flavour. Popular spices included cardamon and hot chili.
Quite different from the way we make hot chocolate today. If you want to try making your own historic drinking chocolate (it’s possible!) you can follow this recipe from Historic Royal Palaces. They have an amazing chocolate kitchen open to the public at Hampton Court Palace, where chocolate would have been prepared for George I.