Sweets

The Hot Chocolate Code

If you too spent a mindless hour (or thirty-six) watching holiday movies, you’ll know The Code for impending romance. Falling Snow + Twinkling Outdoor Lights + Hot Chocolate = First Kiss, Lifelong Love Confirmed.

If you’re looking to enact The Code, Vancouver is offering up plenty of falling snow and vestigial holiday lights. Come January 18th, the trifecta will be complete with the launch of the 2020 Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival.

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We mightn’t be surprised that hot chocolate became easy shorthand for winter romance. While 20th Century researchers analyze chocolate’s effects on the reward centres of the brain, the use of cacao in weddings dates back centuries. In Chan Kom, Yucatan, Mexico, the groom’s family offered the parents of the bride x-taan chucua – a drink made from powdered cacao pounded into water with corn meal before it was strained and blended with cinnamon and Tabasco pepper.

Back in 18th Century France, Louis XV and his mistresses looked to hot chocolate for an aphrodisiac boost. In 1755, French cookbook scribe Menon captured this Louis’ recipe.

‘Place an equal number of bars of chocolate and cups of water in a cafetière and boil on a low heat for a short while; when you are ready to serve, add one egg yolk for four cups and stir over a low heat without allowing to boil. It is better if prepared a day in advance. Those who drink it every day should leave a small amount as flavouring for those who prepare it the next day. Instead of an egg yolk one can add a beaten egg white after having removed the top layer of froth. Mix in a small amount of chocolate from the cafetière then add to the cafetière and finish as with the egg yolk.’

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The chocolate-mad Marie Antoinette took it one step further by creating a new position for court: Chocolate Maker to the Queen. Sulpice Debauve, a pharmacist by training, served Antoinette and Louis XVI. He was later designated Chocolatier to First Consul Napoleon Bonaporte.

Marie Antoinette would start her morning with a decadent hot chocolate – sometimes infused with cinnamon – and served in a dainty porcelain cup. Her silver chocolatière service was created in 1787 by Jean-Pierre Charpanet and personalized with her initials. This morning chocolate set boasted one hundred items crafted from silver, porcelain, ebony, ivory, steel and crystal.

The Queen’s chocolate dining did not end at breakfast. Her Chocolate Maker, Sulpice Debauve, concocted special recipes that included chocolate and sweet almond to ease her digestion, chocolate and orange blossoms to reduce her anxiety and chocolate and orchid bulbs to restore her vigor. Marie Antoinette despised taking medicine, so Monsieur Debauve devised chocolate coins – The Queen’s Coins or Pistoles – emblazoned with the royal crest to distract her tastebuds.

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Like the French Queen, Dr. Francisco Hernandez – Royal Physician to Philip II of Spain – placed great faith in the power of Hot Chocolate. He used it to treat fever, liver disorders, intestinal pain, colic and even poisons. ‘When pepper was added,’ Hernandez said, ‘it had an agreeable taste and warmed the stomach and perfumed the breath.’

With his physician-botany training, Hernandez created his own 16thCentury hot chocolate recipe.

The Hot Chocolate of Hernandez

• roast cocoa beans
• vanilla
• ear flower
• corn
• sapotilla kernels
• black pepper
• capsicum peppers
• pimenta
• honey
• achiote

Whatever your hot chocolate goals, the 2020 Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival has something for you, with its 44 participating food and drink vendors offering up 114 flavours. If you’re planning on going, do check dates and places before venturing out, as offerings vary by day and some participants are involved for only certain dates of the Festival.

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This year, Ladurée Paris on Robson Street has a special drink devoted to the hot chocolate-loving French Queen.

Ladurée
Marie Antoinette
Available January 18 – February 14, 2020
Valrhona Opalys 33% white chocolate infused with Marie-Antoinette Tea, Chantilly cream, and Marie-Antoinette décoration.
Served with a Ladurée ‘Marie Antoinette’ macaron – two delicate pink macaron shells filled with smooth cream infused with Marie Antoinette Tea (marriage of black tea from China and India, rose petals, citrus and honey).

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Other 2020 hot chocolate offerings at the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival include, in their words:

‘1931 Gallery Bistro
Show Me The Monet
Available January 18 – February 14, 2020
Monet’s picturesque water lily gardens are inspiration for this gorgeous pink Ruby Callebaut hot chocolate, complimented by rich parmesan and candied pecans.
Accompanied by a white chocolate and pistachio-stuffed pretzel.

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Baker & Table
Japanese First Kiss
Available: January 18 – 31, 2020
Callebaut Belgian hot chocolate and yuzu (Japanese citrus).
Served with a ‘Lucky Cat’ Mochi Bun.

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Butter Baked Goods
Absospeculoosly
Available January 18 – February 14, 2020
Speculoos hot chocolate with Speculoos Marshmallow – dark chocolate flavoured with speculoos spices and topped with a speculoos marshmallow rolled in crushed speculoos cookies…Calling all speculoos lovers! 

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Chez Christophe
Ruby Slippers
Available January 18 – February 12, 2020
Ruby chocolate infused with delicate rose water.
Paired with Ruby macadamia dragée.

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Eternal Abundance
5 O’Clock Shadow (Vegan + Organic)
Available January 18 – 31, 2020
Black sesame white hot chocolate.
Paired with a black sesame shortbread cookie.
Drink and treat made from all organic ingredients.

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Gem Chocolates
Rock’em Sock’em Ginger
Available February 4- 11, 2020
This hot dark chocolate beverage uses ginger and cherry for a blast of flavours.
A ginger snap cookie dipped in chocolate complements your drink.

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Nelson the Seagull
I Figgin’ Love You
Available February 8 – 14, 2020
Hot chocolate infused with aniseed.
Served with a fig and almond treat.

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Origo Club
Yin-Yang
Available January 18 – February 14, 2020
Both the creamy dark earl grey hot chocolate and the bright yuzu blonde hot chocolate come together for a double feature to taste the best of both worlds.
Served with a couple of buttery madeleines. 

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La Glace
Amethyst Kiss
Violet-infused white hot chocolate, sprinkled with flower petals.
Served with a violet and cassis sherbet, mini waffle cone.’

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“Look at the pattern the fairy lights are making in the snow. Want a hot chocolate?”

2020 Hot Chocolate Festival Map

 

Header Photo: Eliv Sonas-Acheron

 

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Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton