It may seem as though adding spices to chocolate is a new trend, but in fact the fashion for adding spices and flavours to chocolate goes back thousands of years.
The Mayans and Aztecs
Chocolate was a prized luxury item in Mayan and Aztec cultures, where a bitter drink made from the Cacao beans was often mixed with spices to improve the flavour. In fact, the Cacao beans were even used as a commodity valued as highly as gold. The Aztecs believed that the drink gave them strength and had aphrodisiac properties. Chocolate is known to cause the brain to release endorphins into the body giving a feeling of happiness and wellbeing.
Chocolate reaches Europe
When Chocolate reached Europe in the 1600s, sugar was added to improve the taste. Marie Antoinette is said to have arrived in France with her own personal chocolate maker who would mix chocolate with spices believed to have medicinal benefits, including orange blossom to calm the nerves. Sugar and vanilla become popular additions to sweeten the taste. In England, Chocolate Houses became as popular as coffee houses, even before tea become an English favourite.
From drink to bar
Chocolate was enjoyed as a drink for many years before the bars and bite sized treats we know now. It went through some big changes during the 19th Century as manufacturers began to sell chocolate as a bar, and the Swiss first added milk to their chocolate mixture. Spices were used less as chocolates became sweeter, but peppermint and orange were still popular flavours.
Spice for variety
We seem to always be seeking more variety in our chocolates, and adding spice to chocolate whether it’s a drink, a bar or luxury handmade sweet treats, has become popular once again. Peppermint is still a favourite, and chilli is often added to bars and brownies. But how about trying some of these delicious spices and flavours in your chocolates:
- Coriander Seed
- Fennel Seed (very similar to star anise)
Spice Drops are perfect for making chocolate special, giving an intense flavour from just a few drops.
Why not try our recipe of home made chocolate truffles using Spice Drops®.