Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

350-year-old iced chocolate recipe

Chocolate was first advertised in England in around 1640 as an exotic drink, experts say

The new discovery of a 350-year-old English recipe for an iced chocolate treat bears striking similarities with the modern-day frappe.

Notes showing how to make a 17th century equivalent of the chilled coffee drink, popular in summer months, have been uncovered by a university lecturer while studying literature from the period - complete with health warnings about consuming too much of the sweet, brown confection.

Dr Kate Loveman, an English lecturer at the University of Leicester, said the recipe directed the maker to mix chocolate, some "snow" and a little salt and "shaike the snow together (for) sometyme" in what she believes is one of the first ever examples of its kind to have been found.

She said: "It's not chocolate ice-cream but more like a very solid and very dark version of the iced chocolate drinks you get in coffee shops today."

The iced dessert would have been a "great luxury" because of the difficulty in freezing food at that time.

Dr Loveman discovered a host of recipes in a journal penned by one of the country's earliest chocoholics the Earl of Sandwich in 1668 - his great, great grandson is commonly held to have invented the sandwich.

He is thought to have developed a taste for drinking chocolate while at the Spanish royal court in the 1660s.

In among the manuscript's entries is a prized recipe for King Charles II's spiced and perfumed chocolate, which the Earl noted had cost Charles £200 a time - about £25,000 today.

Dr Loveman has now published a paper on the introduction of chocolate into England.

She said: "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.

"One physician cautioned the ingredients in hot chocolate could cause insomnia, excess mucus, or haemorrhoids.

"People worried iced chocolate in particular was 'unwholesome' and could damage the stomach, heart, and lungs.

She added: "There were ways round this and the Earl thought the best way to ward off the dangers of eating frozen chocolate was drink some hot chocolate about an hour afterwards.

"In other words, chocoholics are not new."

Dr Loveman tried her hand at making a chocolate frappe out of snow "and lived to tell the tale - despite not following Sandwich's advice".

During her studies, she also discovered evidence chocolate, sold in the country as an exotic drink from the 1640s, has always been associated with women and was marketed both as an aphrodisiac or even a cure for some illnesses.

She said: "Today's chocolate promoters, like some in the seventeenth century, often find cause to highlight women, pleasure, and sexuality.

"In the 17th century however, the fact frequent chocolate consumption might make you 'fat and corpulent' was an attraction - something advertisers now prefer to keep quiet about."

Among famous chocolate dabblers of the time was diarist Samuel Pepys, who tentatively tried chocolate to cure his hangover after King Charles II's coronation - apparently with some success, according to Dr Loveman.

By the 1690s, stores were selling the drink to aristocrats and the well-heeled, as the English began their lengthy love affair with chocolate.

Dr Loveman's paper; The Introduction of Chocolate into England: Retailers, Researchers, and Consumers, 1640-1730, is published in the Journal of Social History.

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