In 2002, an analysis of residue inside an ancient Maya teapot led to the discovery that the Maya had been consuming chocolate as far back as 2,600 years ago.
The cacao tree is scientifically known as Theobroma cacao, or “food of the gods.” Even their own records depict chocolate being poured for rulers and gods through hieroglyphics.
However, from Spanish accounts of the Maya culture, archaeologists know that these spouted teapots were used to drink liquid chocolate—a tradition that spanned across all classes and was not just singularly available to the upper class. The Maya often consumed chocolate with every meal.
Unlike our American hot chocolate, which is often mixed with milk, the analysis of the teapot residue shows the cacao butter was mixed with maize, water, honey, or chili. These ingredients and a pouring process created a thick and foamy hot chocolate for the Maya to enjoy.
With the holidays right around the corner, we wanted to pay homage to this delicious wintery drink with a recipe based on the Maya’s traditional hot chocolate. Below, you’ll find a recipe to make your own:
3 cups boiling water
1 to 2 cinnamon sticks
8 ounces bittersweet Maya Kakaw or Xocoalt (chocolate paste) or
3 tablets Mexican unsweetened chocolate, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons of wild pure honey, or raw sugar to taste
1 pinch of dried red chili
1 dried organic grown vanilla bean, split lengthwise
l tablespoon roasted peanuts, ground extra fine (optional Aztec hot chocolate taste)
How to Prepare:
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the cinnamon sticks to boiling water. Cook until liquid is reduced to 2 1/2 cups. Remove cinnamon sticks; add the vanilla bean and lower the heat a bit, wait until bubbles appear around the edge to reduce heat to low and drop the chocolate pieces and wild pure honey, mix well and whisk occasionally until chocolate is melted. Turn off heat, remove vanilla bean. Whisk vigorously to create a light foam effect, sprinkle the dried chili pepper and serve.
If the hot chocolate is too bitter or rich, the website suggests that you can certainly add milk and sugar—ingredients added by the Spanish—to create a creamier, sweeter and more familiar taste.
Happiest of holidays and best wishes for the new year! Keep an eye out–we’ve got games in the works!