Mexican Cacao: Origins Of Hot Chocolate

As a part of my range of products I aim to design and produce for the Mexican Cacao brief, I will be designing packaging for hot chocolate. As it is a traditional Mexican brand of chocolate, the hot chocolate will need to be culturally relevant, and be as the Mexicans drink it. Although it was more of a savoury concoction, with added chillies and wine, the recipe eventually evolved to become the sweet treat it is today. The sweet recipe is the one I will be following and instructing on how to make, on the packaging itself.

'The terms Hot Cocoa and Hot Chocolate are often used interchangeably, but technically they are as different as Milk Chocolate and bittersweet chocolate. Hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder, which is chocolate pressed free of all its richness, meaning the fat of cocoa butter. Hot chocolate is made from chocolate bars melted into cream. It is a rich decadent drink.

The original hot chocolate recipe was a mixture of ground cocoa beans, water, wine, and chile peppers. It didn't take long for Spaniards to begin heating the mixture and sweetening it with sugar. After being introduced in England, milk was added to the then after-dinner treat.

The word chocolate is said to derive from the Mayan word xocoatl; cocoa from the Aztec word cacahuatl. The Mexican Indian word chocolat comes from a combination of the terms choco ("foam") and atl ("water"); as early chocolate was only consumed in beverage form.

In central and southern Mexico, people commonly drink chocolate twice a day year-round. Having a layer of foam on hot chocolate is as important today in Mexico as it was in ancient times. Mexicans believe the spirit of the drink is in the foam. The chocolate is whipped to a froth with a carved wooden utensil called a Molinillo and served in mugs.'

Source: History of hot chocolate.

The hot chocolate consumed in Mexico today is largely drunk like coffee, as a wake up call, and little is done to alter the natural ingredient, although sweetness is an important element, a Mexican cup of hot chocolate is far less sweet than European versions.

For Mexicans, the froth is an important element, along with spices most commonly cinnamon, and just as popular, chilli is added to enhance the flavour of the cacao bean. A freshly ground batch of chocolate added to hot water and then frothed with a Molinillo (Mexican whisk) is the traditional way of drinking this beverage, which is how my product will function.

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