Colonial Hot Chocolate | Recipes from American History

Although relations with the British were strained at best during the colonial era, Americans have to thank England for introducing the delectable taste of chocolate to the colonies. First introduced as something medicinal, chocolate was sold in apothecary stores to treat illnesses. Instead of eaten in bar form, colonists would grate their chocolate into warm milk and add spices, making a thicker and richer form of hot chocolate. Americans were delighted with their chocolate drink and commonly served it at breakfast time.

Chocolate had a third use to colonists; because of its caffeine content chocolate gave people an energy boost, which was useful during the wars that plagued the colonies in the early 1700s. During the Seven Years War Colonial generals would drink chocolate as an energy drink, and it was even used as rations for soldiers to give them strength. 

Colonial Hot Chocolate

Colonial Hot Chocolate

  • 2 c. milk
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5 oz. dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate chopped finely 
  1. Pour milk into a large saucepan. Add the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt, and whisk to combine. Heat slowly over medium heat until the milk is very hot but not boiling (about 5 minutes), whisking every 30 seconds or so. Add the sugar, vanilla, and chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted. 
  2. Bring the chocolate to a low simmer and simmer 5-6 minutes, whisking constantly. The chocolate should start to get thicker by the end and slowly drip off of a spoon. If you want to add a little kick to your drink, sprinkle in a dash of cayenne pepper at the end. 

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