Sweet like chocolate

Chocolate is one of life’s great pleasures. It’ll cheer you up if you’re feeling blue, give you an energy boost when you’re flagging and keep kids quiet (for a short period of time).

But what’s the history of chocolate and how did it become one of our favourite treats? As it’s National Chocolate Week, we decided to delve a little deeper.

Where it all began
In the time of the Mayans and Aztecs, cacao beans would be left to dry before they were ground up and added to water to make a drink. This wasn’t your typical hot chocolate though – it was actually really bitter and often had chilli added to it. Spicy!

Headed for Europe
When the Spanish began colonising South America, they were fascinated by this bitter and spicy beverage (rather them than me). So, they brought it back to Europe and the Spanish started adding sugar, vanilla or honey to the mixture. Now we’re talking…

A treat for the wealthy
Over time, chocolate became the must-have drink for all the aristocratic big hitters across Europe. In today’s terms, they’d be pouting and holding a cup of the stuff on their Insta feed. Soon, the ‘cocoa press’ was invented, which created cocoa powder from a cacao bean. People started adding milk to this powder et voila – hot chocolate was invented.

Raising the bar
In 1847, British chocolatier J.S. Fry and Sons took this powder, added fat, liquor and sugar and set it in a mould. Eureka! The chocolate bar was born and we’ve never looked back.

To celebrate National Chocolate Week, why not try our favourite chocolate brownie recipe:

Ingredients

  • 100g Cadbury Bournville chocolate
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 75g plain flour
  • 40g Cadbury Bournville cocoa powder
  • 250g light brown sugar or muscovado sugar
  • 1tbsn golden syrup

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas 4. Half-fill a small saucepan with boiling water and place on the hob under medium heat. Place the unsalted butter and the chocolate (broken into small pieces) into a bowl and put this on top of the saucepan to allow it to melt. Continue to stir with a table knife. Once melted, take the bowl off of the saucepan to let it cool down.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and the sugar together until a much bigger frothy mixture appears, which usually takes about 2-3 minutes. Pour the melted contents of the bowl into this larger bowl and mix using a wooden spoon.

In the same bowl, sieve in the plain flour and cocoa powder. Slowly fold these in to create a thick, chocolatey brown mixture. Add a tablespoon of golden syrup to enhance the richness of the flavour.

Pour the mixture into a 7/8inch square cake tin, and place in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the crust on top is easily breakable and the contents inside are soft but not runny. Allow to cool, then serve and enjoy!

Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash