Every day is chocolate day except for Jan. 11, which is Bittersweet Chocolate Day.

So what’s the big deal? Here’s the big deal. Most people think milk chocolate is the only chocolate in town. The most popular chocolate in America is Hershey’s and Ghirardelli’s milk chocolate. There is a lot more chocolate that meets the tongue that doesn’t have sugar and milk in it.

The Aztecs and the Mayans introduced us to bitter chocolate from the cacao bean in the 1400s. For more than 200 years, the Spanish kept chocolate a secret stored in church monasteries. The church supported a chocolate drink made from ground cacao beans whipped in water like the Aztecs. They felt it would help lessen the amount of wine consumed at that time. It was made with no sugar or milk. That would come much, much later.

In 1600, the Italians added sugar and helped to distribute this chocolate throughout Europe. Finally, in the 1800s, a Dutch chemist came up with a process to make the chocolate less bitter and also cheaper to produce. This made it available to more people and it was called Dutch cocoa, which is used in baking today.

In 1875, a Swiss chocolatier, Daniel Peters, developed milk chocolate. His next door neighbor was a fellow named Heinrick Nestlé, who was working on developing condensed milk to help as a baby formula to feed babies. Peters used Nestlé’s condensed milk and milk chocolate was born as well as the largest food and beverage company in the world, Nestle.

Chocolate reached England during the late 1800s, and it was touched again by Lindt, Cadbury and a gentleman named Milton Hershey.

Chocolate has a long and interesting history, dating from the Aztec and Mayans to the modern day Hershey’s Kisses. What amazes me is the fact chocolate was introduced as a bitter tasting drink that evolved into the world’s number one dessert; sweet with a melt in your mouth goodness.

Today, there seems to be a trend for 60, 70, 80 and 90 percent cacao bitter chocolate. People are searching for the pure, bitter taste of chocolate without sugar or milk. Maybe the Aztecs and Mayans had it right the first time. Here is their recipe. You might be surprised. If it is too bitter, add two teaspoons honey.

Mayan Chocolate Drink

Ingredients

½ cup cocoa powder

2 medium size dried Chiles (1 tsp Chile powder)

½ tsp cinnamon

6-8 cups water

Directions

Whip until foamy

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or magoulc@daytonastate.edu.

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