“Then I will help myself,” said he. “A large dish of rather weak cocoa every evening agrees with me better than anything.” It struck her, however, as he poured out this rather weak cocoa, that it came forth in a very fine, dark-colored stream…”
Cocoa, or Chocolate, as it was often referred to (chocolate as a candy had not yet been introduced) was a popular Regency drink served most often at breakfast, but sometimes in the evening as well. Creating cocoa it at home took time, skill and a special pot. The chocolate pot, looking like a small samovar or carafe, stood on legs so that a heat source could be placed beneath it. The chocolate and milk were melted together, stirred from the top by a whisk, and poured out. This task would be performed at the table by one of the members of the family.
The cakes of chocolate talked about in this recipe were made by grinding cocoa beans and mixing them with sugar and spices, such as aniseed, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla and nutmeg. The whole mixture was then moistened and formed into bricks or cakes to be used at a later date. Today’s cocoa recipes can gain a flavor of the past by including a spoonful or two of whatever spices you like best.
Cut a cake of chocolate in very small bits; put a pint of water into the pot, and, when it boils, put in the above; mill it off the fire until quite melted, then on a gentle fire till it boil; pour it into a basin, and it will keep in a cool place eight or ten days, or more. When wanted, put a spoonful or two into milk, boil it with sugar, and mill it well.
Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell, A New System of Domestic Cookery, 1806
54 g / 2 oz / ¼ cup good quality cocoa powder
240 ml / 8 fl oz / 1 cup water
54 g / 2 oz / ¼ cup Sugar
720 ml / 24 fl oz / 3 cups Milk
Stir the cocoa powder with the water over a medium heat until the chocolate is completely melted into the water and the mixture boils. Stir in the sugar and reduce the heat. Pour in the milk and continue stirring the chocolate until it is scalding hot, but not boiling.
Serve piping hot with a dash of your favorite spice and a dollop of whipped cream.
Excerpted from Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends by Laura Boyle.
Laura Boyle is fascinated by all aspects of Jane Austen’s life. She is the proprietor of Austenation: Regency Accessories, creating custom hats, bonnets, reticules and more for customers around the globe. Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends is her first book. Her greatest joy is the time she is able to spend in her home with her family.