Monday, 7 November 2016

Constanza's chocolate science, as served at Raglan Fair XII

This article previously appeared in the September issue of the Baelfyr.

In the lead-up to Raglan Fair, I took part in an online course called A History of Royal Food and Feasting, put together by the University of Reading and the Historic Royal Palaces. One of the sections was on drinking chocolate, primarily during the reign of George I, but also included earlier history of this luxury food.

A major component of the course was practical work making the foods (and drinks!) discussed. One of the ones that particularly interested me was a recipe for chocolate wine by John Nott from his Cook’s Dictionary of 1726. This recipe was described as indicative of chocolate wine recipes. I didn't have time to make it before I left (and foolishly forgot to write down the recipe), so my version was an approximation. Still, it tasted good, and the proportions were nearly right! 

Original recipe:
Take a pint of sherry, or a pint and a half of red port, four ounces and a half of chocolate, six ounces of fine sugar, and half an ounce
of white starch, or fine flour; mix, dissolve, and boil all these as before. But, if your chocolate be with sugar, take double the quantity of chocolate, and half the quantity of sugar; and so in all.

My attempt (For Science!)

4 100g bars of 85% cocoa solids plain chocolate (Course notes stated that it was important to use chocolate of at least 80% cocoa solids. Mine came from Tesco; Hotel Chocolat sell 100% bars.)
1 bottle of decent port
4 tablespoons of white sugar (approximately - I poured it in and tasted it until it stopped being so bitter I couldn't drink it)
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of ginger (I honestly don't know where I got the idea that there were meant to be spices in it, but put them in I did.)

Dissolve the chocolate over a low heat, stirring with a whisk. You could use a bain marie, but it worked perfectly well in a saucepan over a gas ring. Once the chocolate is completely dissolved, slowly add the port, stirring constantly. Keep stirring until the chocolate and port have combined smoothly. Add the sugar and spices. Pour into a jug and serve hot.

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