Written by IWAP Members
for Bridge Magazine
It is quite common on Valentine´s Day, the mid-winter celebration of romance and love, for sweethearts to exchange gifts of chocolate. Perhaps this tradition stems from chocolate´s reputation as an aphrodisiac. Or perhaps it stems from its sweet, creamy taste or its perceived ability to improve the taster´s mood. Whatever the reason, chocolate´s popularity continues, especially on this romantic occasion each year.
Originally, chocolate was enjoyed and consumed in liquid form. The ancient Mayan and Aztec populations of what is now Mexico, Central America and the northern part of South America discovered cocoa beans thousands of years ago. They crushed the beans and mixed them with spices in hot water to make a bitter drink. The ancient Aztec king Montezuma drank liquid chocolate throughout the day to enhance his libido. Interestingly, women were not allowed to drink chocolate at this time.
While Christopher Columbus was the first person to bring cocoa beans back from the New World, Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez was responsible for its success in Europe. After first tasting chocolate in the New World in 1519, Cortez brought cocoa beans to Spain, which built up an industry by creating cocoa plantations in its overseas colonies. The Spanish also adjusted the drink to suit European tastes by adding sugar, vanilla and wine, improving the bitterness of the Aztec recipe.
By the early 17th century, chocolate consumption had spread throughout the elite and wealthy of Europe. It was also being added to food for the first time, such as rolls and cakes. And, by the mid-18th century, its price dropped enough to be widely affordable.
Chocolate is often reputed to be an aphrodisiac. However, little scientific evidence confirms this, or the belief that chocolate makes people feel better. Scientists suggest that chocolate´s effect on mood is psychological.
But if chocolate tastes good and makes us feel good, regardless of the underlying reason, what a nice experience to share with your sweetheart this Valentine´s Day!
Scald and stir in a saucepan over low heat:
2 cups milk
¼ cup sugar
3 oz. grated sweet chocolate
Pour part of these ingredients over:
4 beaten egg yolks
Return the sauce to the pan. Stir the custard constantly over low heat until it thickens slightly. Do not overcook. You may strain it. Cool by placing the pan in cold water and then in the refrigerator. In a separate bowl, whip until stiff:
¾ cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Fold the custard into the whipped cream mixture until well blended. Fill custard cups with the mousse. Chill thoroughly before serving, but do not expect it to become firm.
2 tablespoons butter
Stir in until blended:
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
In a separate saucepan, heat but do not boil:
1 cup milk
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, cut into pieces
1/3 cup sugar
Slowly add the hot milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring constantly until well blended. Beat until light:
3 egg yolks
Beat part of the sauce into the yolks, then add the yolk mixture to the rest of the sauce and stir the custard over very low heat until the yolks thicken slightly. Cool the custard well.
Preheat oven to 175˚ C.
Add to the cooled chocolate mixture:
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whip until stiff, but not dry:
3 egg whites
Fold them lightly into the cooled chocolate mixture. Bake in a soufflé dish set in a pan of hot water about 20 minutes or until firm. Serve at once with cream.
Originally printed in IWAP magazine “The Bridge”
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