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Hot chocolate

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Hot chocolate
A cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate flakes
Region of originMesoamerica
ColorBrown or chestnut
IngredientsChocolate or cocoa powder, milk or water, sugar
Related productsChocolate milk

Hot chocolate, also known as hot cocoa or drinking chocolate, is a heated drink consisting of shaved or melted chocolate or cocoa powder, heated milk or water, and usually a sweetener. It is often garnished with whipped cream or marshmallows. Hot chocolate made with melted chocolate is sometimes called drinking chocolate, characterized by less sweetness and a thicker consistency.[1]

The first chocolate drink is believed to have been created at least 5,300 years starting with the Mayo-Chinchipe culture in what is present-day Ecuador[2] and later consumed by the Maya around 2,500–3,000 years ago. A cocoa drink was an essential part of Aztec culture by 1400 AD, by which they referred to as xocōlātl.[3] The drink became popular in Europe after being introduced from Mexico in the New World and has undergone multiple changes since then. Until the 19th century, hot chocolate was used medicinally to treat ailments such as liver and stomach diseases.

Hot chocolate is consumed throughout the world and comes in multiple variations, including the spiced chocolate para mesa of Latin America, the very thick cioccolata calda served in Italy and chocolate a la taza served in Spain, and the thinner hot cocoa consumed in the United States. Prepared hot chocolate can be purchased from a range of establishments, including cafeterias, fast food restaurants, coffeehouses and teahouses. Powdered hot chocolate mixes, which can be added to boiling water or hot milk to make the drink at home, are sold at grocery stores and online.


Silver chocolate pot, France, 1779.[4] Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Archaeologists have found evidence that Mayan chocolate consumption occurred as early as 500 BC, and there is speculation that chocolate predates even the Mayans.[3] To make the chocolate drink, which was served cold, the Maya ground cocoa seeds into a paste and mixed it with water, cornmeal, chili peppers, and other ingredients.[5] They then poured the drink back and forth from a cup to a pot until a thick foam developed.[3] Chocolate was available to Maya of all social classes, although the wealthy drank chocolate from "large spouted vessels" that were often buried with elites.[3] An early Classic period (460-480 AD) Mayan tomb from the site of Rio Azul, Guatemala, had vessels with the Maya glyph for cacao on them with residue of a chocolate drink.[5][6]

Because sugar was yet to come to the Americas,[5] xocōlātl was said to be an acquired taste. What the Spaniards then called xocōlātl was said to be a drink consisting of a chocolate base flavored with vanilla and other spices that was served cold.[7][8] The drink tasted spicy and bitter as opposed to sweetened modern hot chocolate.[5] As to when xocōlātl was first served hot, sources conflict on when and by whom.[5][8] However, José de Acosta, a Spanish Jesuit missionary who lived in Peru and then Mexico in the later 16th century, described xocōlātl as:

Loathsome to such as are not acquainted with it, having a scum or froth that is very unpleasant taste. Yet it is a drink very much esteemed among the Indians, where with they feast noble men who pass through their country. The Spaniards, both men and women, that are accustomed to the country, are very greedy of this Chocolate. They say they make diverse sorts of it, some hot, some cold, and some temperate, and put therein much of that "chili"; yea, they make paste thereof, the which they say is good for the stomach and against the catarrh.[9]

Within Mesoamerica many drinks were made from cacao beans, and further enhanced by flowers like vanilla to add flavor.[10] This was a tribute to the Aztecs. The Aztecs, or Mexica, required conquered people to provide them with chocolate. Cups, gourds, cacao beans, as well as other things they acquired were listed in The Essential Codex Mendoza.[11] Cacao became used as a currency throughout Mesoamerica.[10] The Aztecs used chocolate to show high status: it was a bad omen for someone low or common to drink chocolate.[10] Europeans' first recorded contact with chocolate was not until 1502 on Columbus's fourth voyage.[10]

European adaptation[edit]

Hot chocolate in Montsalvat, Melbourne

After defeating Montezuma's warriors and demanding that the Aztec nobles hand over their valuables, Cortés returned to Spain in 1528, bringing cocoa beans and chocolate drink making equipment with them.[12] At this time, chocolate still only existed in the bitter drink invented by the Mayas.[5] Sweet hot chocolate and bar chocolate were yet to be invented. After its introduction to Europe, the drink slowly gained popularity. The Imperial Court of Emperor Charles V soon adopted the drink, and what was then only known as "chocolate" became a fashionable drink popular with the Spanish upper class. Additionally, cocoa was given as a dowry when members of the Spanish royal family married other European aristocrats.[13] At the time, chocolate was very expensive in Europe because the cocoa beans only grew in South America.[14]

Sweet-tasting hot chocolate was then invented, leading hot chocolate to become a luxury item among the European nobility by the 17th century.[15] Even when the first Chocolate House (an establishment similar to a modern coffee shop)[5] opened in 1657, chocolate was still very expensive, costing 50 to 75 pence (approximately 10–15 shillings) a pound (roughly £45–65 in 2016).[16][17] At the time, hot chocolate was often mixed with spices for flavor; one notable recipe was hot chocolate "infused with fresh jasmine flowers, amber, musk, vanilla and ambergris."[15] In the late 17th century, Sir Hans Sloane, president of the Royal College of Physicians, visited Jamaica, where he was introduced to cocoa. He found it 'nauseous' but by mixing it with milk made it more palatable. When Sloane returned to England, he brought the recipe with him, introducing milk chocolate to England.[18] The aristocratic nature of the drink led to chocolate being referred to as "the drink of the gods" in 1797.[15]

The Spanish began to use jicaras made of porcelain in place of the hollowed gourds used by the natives.[10] They then further tinkered with the recipes by using spices such as cinnamon, black pepper, anise, and sesame. Many of these things were used to try to recreate the flavor of the native flowers which they could not easily acquire.[10] Black pepper was used to replace chillies and mecaxochitl, cinnamon was used in place of orejuelas, sugar replaced honey.[10]

In 1828, Coenraad Johannes van Houten developed the first cocoa powder producing machine in the Netherlands.[5][19] The press separated the greasy cocoa butter from cacao seeds, leaving a purer chocolate powder behind.[5] This powder was easier to stir into milk and water. As a result, another very important discovery was made: solid chocolate. By using cocoa powder and low amounts of cocoa butter, it was then possible to manufacture chocolate bars. The term chocolate then came to mean solid chocolate rather than hot chocolate, with the first chocolate bar being created in 1847.[20]

According to tradition, the Italian version cioccolata calda was first born in Turin around 1560. To celebrate that the capital of the Duchy of Savoy was moved from Chambéry to Turin, Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy asked for a new beverage, and so this thicker, creamy version was created.[21]


Process of making homemade drinking chocolate

A distinction is sometimes made between "hot cocoa", made from cocoa powder (ground cacao beans from which much of the cocoa butter has been removed),[22] and "hot chocolate", made directly from bar chocolate, which already contains cocoa, sugar, and cocoa butter.[22] Thus, the major difference between the two is the cocoa butter, the absence of which makes hot cocoa significantly lower in fat than hot chocolate while still preserving all the antioxidants found in chocolate.[23]

  • Hot chocolate can be made with dark, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate grated or chopped into small pieces and stirred into milk with the addition of sugar.
  • Cocoa usually refers to a drink made with cocoa powder, hot milk or water, and sweetened to taste with sugar (or not sweetened at all).[24]
  • Instant hot chocolate or hot cocoa mix may be based on cocoa powder, powdered chocolate, or both; often includes powdered milk or comparable ingredients so it can be made without using milk; sugar or other sweeteners; and typically stabilizers and thickeners.[24] However, mixes can vary widely (between countries and often between brands) in ingredients included, their ratio and their quality.




Whipped cream and marshmallows are frequently added to hot chocolate.

Theobromine found in the cocoa solids is fat soluble.[25] Cocoa beans contain significant amount of fats, but cocoa powder is usually defatted. However, adding fat to defatted cocoa powder will increase its bioavailability.


Rum is added to hot chocolate to make a Lumumba.[26]


Today, hot chocolate in the form of drinking chocolate or cocoa is considered a comfort food and is widely consumed in many parts of the world. European hot chocolate tends to be relatively thick and rich, while in the United States the thinner instant version is consumed more often. In Nigeria, hot chocolate is referred to as "tea" even though it is not actually a tea due to the Nigerian custom of referring to drinks consumed in the morning as "tea".[27] Many regions have distinctive additives or toppings, ranging from marshmallow and whipped cream to cheese.


Hot chocolate is called warme chocolademelk in the Netherlands.

In mainland Europe (particularly Spain and Italy), hot chocolate is sometimes served very thick due to the use of a thickening agent such as cornstarch.[28] One of the thick forms of hot chocolate served in Europe is the Italian cioccolata calda.

Hot chocolate with churros is the traditional working-man's breakfast in Spain. This style of hot chocolate can be extremely thick, often having the consistency of warm chocolate pudding.[29] In the Netherlands, hot chocolate is a very popular drink, known as warme chocolademelk. It is often served at home or in cafes. In France, hot chocolate is often served at breakfast time. Sometimes sliced bread spread with butter, jam, honey, or Nutella is dunked into the hot chocolate.[30]

In Germany, hot chocolate made by melted chocolate (Heiße Schokolade Wiener Art) is distinguished from those made from powders (Trinkschokolade).[28] It is often served with whipped cream on top.[28]

Even further variations of hot chocolate exist. In some cafes in Belgium and other areas in Europe, one who orders a warme chocolade or chocolat chaud receives a cup of steaming white milk and a small bowl of bittersweet chocolate chips to dissolve in the milk.[24] One Viennese variant, Heiße Schokolade Wiener Art, contains an egg yolk for thickness.[28]

North America[edit]

Traditional Spanish hot chocolate served with churros
Latte art on hot chocolate
Hot chocolate with marshmallows

In the United States and Canada, the drink is popular in instant form, made with hot water or milk from a packet containing mostly cocoa powder, sugar, and dry milk.[31] This is the thinner of the two main variations.[32] It is very sweet and may be topped with marshmallows, whipped cream, or a piece of solid chocolate. Hot chocolate was first brought to North America as early as the 17th century by the Dutch, but the first time colonists began selling hot chocolate was around 1755.[33] Traditionally, hot chocolate has been associated with cold weather and winter in the United States and Canada.[34]

Hot chocolate mixed with espresso or coffee under the name of caffè mocha is sold in coffee shops around the United States and elsewhere. This particular name comes from the town Mocha, Yemen, where a specific blend of coffee with the same name is grown.[35]

In Mexico, hot chocolate remains a popular national drink, often including semi-sweet chocolate, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla.[36] Hot chocolate of this type is commonly sold in circular or hexagonal tablets[36] which can be dissolved into hot milk, water, or cream, and then blended until the mixture develops a creamy froth. A 1942 article in the Chicago Tribune describes Mexican cinnamon hot chocolate as being traditionally served alongside a variety of sweet Mexican pastries,[37] such as pan dulce or churros.

South America[edit]

In Colombia, a hot chocolate drink made with milk and water using a chocolatera and molinillo is enjoyed as part of breakfast with bread and soft, fresh farmer's cheese. Colombian hot chocolate is often topped with a soft farmer's cheese or other mild cheese.[38] Similarly, hot chocolate in Ecuador is often topped with cheese.[39]

In Peru, hot chocolate can be served with panettone at breakfast on Christmas Day, even though summer has already started in the southern hemisphere.[40] In addition, many Peruvians will add a sweet chocolate syrup to their drink.[39]

The Argentinian submarino is a hot chocolate drink made from adding a chocolate bar and sugar to hot steamed milk.[39]

Spanish East Indies[edit]

Filipino tsokolate with suman rice cakes and ripe carabao mangoes

In the Philippines, the native hot chocolate drink is known as tsokolate. It is made from tabliya (or tablea), tablets of pure ground roasted cacao beans, dissolved in water and milk. Like in Spanish and Latin American versions, the drink is traditionally made in a tsokolatera and briskly mixed with a wooden baton called the molinillo (also called batidor or batirol), causing the drink to be characteristically frothy. Tsokolate is typically sweetened with a bit of muscovado sugar and has a distinctive grainy texture.[41][42]

Tsokolate is also known as suklati in Kapampangan; sikulate in Maguindanao; and sikwate or sikuwate in Visayan languages. All are derived from Spanish chocolate ('chocolate').[41]

Tsokolate is commonly consumed at breakfast with traditional kakanin delicacies or pandesal and other types of bread. It is also popular during Christmas season in the Philippines.[42]


Hot chocolate
Nutritional value per 100 g
Energy322.168 kJ (77.000 kcal)
10.74 g
Sugars9.66 g
Dietary fiber1 g
2.34 g
Saturated1.431 g
Trans0.078 g
Monounsaturated0.677 g
Polyunsaturated0.084 g
3.52 g
Phenylalanine0.150 g
Tyrosine0.141 g
Vitamin A equiv.
51 μg
Vitamin A176 IU
Thiamine (B1)
0.039 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.182 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.133 mg
Vitamin B6
0.04 mg
Folate (B9)
5 μg
Vitamin B12
0.49 μg
Vitamin C
0.2 mg
Vitamin D
1.1 μg
Vitamin D
45 IU
Vitamin E
0.03 mg
Vitamin K
0.2 μg
114 mg
0.42 mg
23 mg
105 mg
197 mg
44 mg
0.63 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water82.45 g
Caffeine2 mg
Cholesterol8 mg
Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[43] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[44]
Source: Milk, chocolate beverage, hot cocoa, homemade - USDA FoodData Central

From the 16th to 19th centuries, hot chocolate was valued as a medicine as well as a drink.[8]

The explorer Francisco Hernández wrote that chocolate drinks helped treat fever and liver disease.[8] Another explorer, Santiago de Valverde Turices, believed that large amounts of hot chocolate were helpful in treating chest ailments and that smaller amounts could help stomach disorders.[8] When chocolate was introduced to the French in the 17th century, it was reportedly used "to fight against fits of anger and bad moods", which may be attributed to chocolate's phenylethylamine content.[33] Today, hot chocolate is consumed for pleasure rather than medicinally, but new research suggests that there may be other health benefits attributed to the drink.[citation needed][specify]

Several negative effects can be attributed to drinking hot chocolate, as some hot chocolate recipes contain high amounts of sugar,[45] hydrogenated oils, or fats.[citation needed]

When chocolate first began to grow in popularity it was opposed by the Catholic church.[46] It was seen to lack the ability to break fast, seeing as it was consumed in its liquid form.[46] Coffee was the other popular trend which was seen as good for the body but bad for the mind. Chocolate began being consumed as a way to replenish one's body from the effects that coffee caused. It was said to nourish one's body and potency.[46]


A graph showing the amounts of antioxidants contained in cocoa, red wine, and green tea

Research has shown that the consumption of hot chocolate can be positive for one's health. A study conducted by Cornell University has shown that hot chocolate contains more antioxidants than wine and tea, therefore reducing the risk of heart disease.[23] In a single serving of cocoa, the researchers found 611 milligrams of gallic acid equivalents (GAE) and 564 milligrams of epicatechin equivalents (ECE), compared with 340 milligrams of GAE and 163 milligrams of ECE in red wine, and 165 milligrams of GAE and 47 milligrams of ECE in green tea.[47] Chang Yong Lee, the professor and researcher at Cornell who conducted the study, revealed that larger amounts of antioxidants are released when the drink is heated.[23]

The flavonoids found in the cocoa that makes up hot chocolate also have a positive effect on arterial health. A particular study performed by the National Institutes of Health partially supported by Mars Chocolate company showed high amounts of improvement in blood flow after drinking a flavanol-rich cocoa drink.[48] In the study, the subjects (27 people ages 18 to 72) drank a cocoa drink containing 900 milligrams of flavonols every day, which resulted in an improvement in blood flow and the function of endothelial cells that line blood vessels.[48]

In further studies conducted by Dr. Norman K. Hollenberg, professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that flavonols may also help vessels dilate and help keep platelets from clustering on the blood vessel walls.[48] Flavonoids found in hot chocolate are beneficial to health mainly because they shield the walls of blood vessels from free radical damage.[49] Flavanols are also thought to help reduce blood platelet buildup and can balance levels of compounds called eicosanoids, which may be beneficial to cardiovascular health.[49]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grivetti, Louis E.; Shapiro, Howard-Yana (2009). Chocolate: history, culture, and heritage. John Wiley and Sons. p. 345. ISBN 978-0-470-12165-8.
  2. ^ Zarrillo, Sonia; Gaikwad, Nilesh; Lanaud, Claire; Powis, Terry; Viot, Christopher; Lesur, Isabelle; Fouet, Olivier; Argout, Xavier; Guichoux, Erwan; Salin, Franck; Solorzano, Rey Loor; Bouchez, Olivier; Vignes, Hélène; Severts, Patrick; Hurtado, Julio (October 29, 2018). "The use and domestication of Theobroma cacao during the mid-Holocene in the upper Amazon". Nature Ecology & Evolution. 2 (12): 1879–1888. Bibcode:2018NatEE...2.1879Z. doi:10.1038/s41559-018-0697-x. ISSN 2397-334X. PMID 30374172. S2CID 53099825. Archived from the original on March 9, 2023. Retrieved January 29, 2024.
  3. ^ a b c d Trivedi, Bijal (July 17, 2012). "Ancient Chocolate Found in Maya "Teapot"". National Geographic. Archived from the original on July 20, 2002. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  4. ^ "Silver Chocolate Pot". Metalwork. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Burleigh, Robert (2002). Chocolate: Riches from the Rainforest. Harry N. Abrams, Ins., Publishers. ISBN 0-8109-5734-5.
  6. ^ Earley, Diane (2001). The Official M&M's History of Chocolate. Charlesbridge Publishing. ISBN 1-57091-448-6.
  7. ^ Hickling, William (1838). History of the Conquest of Mexico. ISBN 0-375-75803-8.
  8. ^ a b c d e Stradley, Linda (2004). "Rediscover True Hot Chocolate - History of Hot Chocolate". What's Cooking America. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  9. ^ Spadaccini, Jim (2008). "The Sweet Lure of Chocolate". Exploratorium. Retrieved July 18, 2008.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Norton, Marcy (2004). Conquests of Chocolate. OAH Magazine of History.
  11. ^ Berdan, Frances (1992). Codex Mendoza. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.
  12. ^ "Don Cortes". Cadbury Trebor Bassett. 2008. Archived from the original on October 21, 2007. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  13. ^ Paajanen, Sean (February 6, 2019). "An Abridged History of Hot Chocolate: Its Changes Over the Years". The Spruce Eats.
  14. ^ Pearce, David (2008). "Cacao and Chocolate Timeline". David Pearce. Archived from the original on February 19, 2005. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  15. ^ a b c Green, Matthew (March 11, 2017). "How the decadence and depravity of London's 18th century elite was fuelled by hot chocolate". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on January 12, 2022. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
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  20. ^ Klein, Christopher (February 13, 2014). "The Sweet History of Chocolate". The History Channel. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  21. ^ Exclusive Brand Torino. "THE HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE IN TURIN". Exclusive Brand Torino. Archived from the original on May 21, 2022. Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  22. ^ a b Craddock, Darren. "Why Hot Cocoa Is Healthier Than Hot Chocolate". Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved June 26, 2008.
  23. ^ a b c "Hot Cocoa Tops Red Wine And Tea In Antioxidants; May Be Healthier Choice". Science Daily. November 6, 2003. Retrieved June 26, 2008.
  24. ^ a b c The Nibble (2005–2008). "Some Like It Hot: Hot Chocolate & Hot Cocoa Mixes: An Overview". Lifestyle Direct, Inc. Retrieved July 15, 2008.
  25. ^ Baggott, MJ; Childs, E; Hart, AB; de Bruin, E; Palmer, AA; Wilkinson, JE; de Wit, H (July 2013). "Psychopharmacology of theobromine in healthy volunteers". Psychopharmacology. 228 (1): 109–18. doi:10.1007/s00213-013-3021-0. PMC 3672386. PMID 23420115.
  26. ^ Ehmer, Kersten; Hindermann, Beate (2015). The School of Sophisticated Drinking: An Intoxicating History of Seven Spirits. Greystone Books. p. 32. ISBN 9781771641197.
  27. ^ Kperogi, Farooq (January 26, 2014). "Q and A on the grammar of food, usage and Nigerian English". Daily Trust. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2017. We call everything we drink in the morning "tea" even if it's not.[...]"Daddy, why do Nigerians call hot cocoa 'tea'?" she asked me.
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  37. ^ Johnson, Dorothy (December 6, 1942). "Hot Chocolate is Historical Mexican Drink". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
  38. ^ Bakshani, Nikkitha (March 4, 2015). "Colombian Hot Chocolate: Just Add Cheese". The Daily Meal. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
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  40. ^ "The curious Peruvian tradition of drinking hot chocolate and paneton in summer". Rischmoller Real Estate. November 30, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  41. ^ a b Polistico, Edgie (2017). Philippine Food, Cooking, & Dining Dictionary. Anvil Publishing, Incorporated. ISBN 9786214200870.[permanent dead link]
  42. ^ a b Cabrera, Maryanne (January 27, 2018). "sokolate (Filipino Hot Chocolate)". The Little Epicurean. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  43. ^ United States Food and Drug Administration (2024). "Daily Value on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels". FDA. Archived from the original on March 27, 2024. Retrieved March 28, 2024.
  44. ^ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Food and Nutrition Board; Committee to Review the Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium (2019). Oria, Maria; Harrison, Meghan; Stallings, Virginia A. (eds.). Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press (US). ISBN 978-0-309-48834-1. PMID 30844154. Archived from the original on May 9, 2024. Retrieved June 21, 2024.
  45. ^ Bonneville, Marguerite. "Can Chocolate Benefit Your Health?". Open Kitchen. Archived from the original on July 20, 2012. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
  46. ^ a b c Schivelbusch, Wolfgang (1993). Tastes of paradise: a social history of spices, stimulants, and intoxicants. New York: Vintage Books.
  47. ^ Lee, KW; Kim, YJ; Lee, HJ; Lee, CY (December 3, 2003). "Cocoa has more phenolic phytochemicals and a higher antioxidant capacity than teas and red wine". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 51 (25): 7292–5. doi:10.1021/jf0344385. PMID 14640573.
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  49. ^ a b "Your Heart and Vascular Health". The Cleveland Clinic. 1995–2008. Retrieved July 5, 2008.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]