350 Year Old Chocolate Recipes
August 29, 2013

Aristocrat’s 350-Year-Old Chocolate Recipes Discovered In England

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

A lecturer at the University of Leicester has discovered 350-year-old English recipes for iced chocolate desserts. Dr Kate Loveman of the University's School of English wrote in the Journal of Social History that the 17th-century recipes could be just as dangerous as they were delicious. The recipes discovered were collected by the Earl of Sandwich in 1668.

Loveman said one of the recipes is like a solid and very dark version of the iced chocolate drinks you get in coffee shops.

"Freezing food required cutting-edge technology in seventeenth-century England, so these ices were seen as great luxuries," she wrote in a statement. "Chocolate was first advertised in England around 1640 as an exotic drink made from cacao beans. In the 1660s, when the Earl of Sandwich collected his recipes, chocolate often came with advice about safe consumption."

According to Loveman, one physician cautioned that the ingredients in hot chocolate could cause insomnia, excess mucus or hemorrhoids."

"People worried that iced chocolate in particular was ‘unwholesome’ and could damage the stomach, heart, and lungs," Loveman said. “There were ways round this, however. Sandwich thought the best way to ward off the dangers of eating frozen chocolate was to 'Drinke Hott chocolatti ¼ of an houre after’ it. In other words, chocoholics are not new."

She said that she even tried out the Earle's freezing method using snow and lived to tell about it, "despite not following Sandwich's advice."

The Earl’s own recipe reads: “Prepare the chocolatti [to make a drink]… and Then Putt the vessell that hath the Chocolatti in it, into a Jaraffa [carafe] of snow stirred together with some salt, & shaike the snow together sometyme & it will putt the Chocolatti into tender Curdled Ice & soe eate it with spoons.”

Loveman has found more chocolate recipes in the Earl of Sandwich's journal, including a recipe for spiced and perfumed chocolate that cost the aristocrat the equivalent of about $300 per serving. In the 1640s, chocolates were sold as drinks that could cure illnesses and act as an aphrodisiac.

“The novice chocolate drinker of the 1650s and 1660s ran greater risks than money ill spent: he had to bear in mind that the new product might damage his health and there was the real possibility of loss of face through having his inexperience exposed," Loveman said.

She said that by the 1690s, chocolate houses were selling the drink to an aristocratic and leisured clientele. The food was widely mentioned in literature, and had acquired some of the same associations with indulgence and pleasure as it has today.

Another difference between chocolate 300 years ago and today is the type of advertising used to market it. In the 17th century, promoters were advertising that chocolate could make you "fat and corpulent" - something considered attractive at the time, as it was seen as a sign of wealth. Its fattening tendencies are "something advertisers now prefer to keep quiet about," Loveman said.