A seventeenth-century chocolate kitchen rediscovered

If you aren’t a student of history, or don’t like chocolate, you can skip this post.  For the rest of us, there’s some fascinating news from England.  It seems that the original chocolate kitchen at Hampton Court Palace in London has been rediscovered and fully restored.  It’s serving chocolate drinks once more, just as it did for the Kings of England from the mid-1600’s.

The discovery of the kitchen has been a joy for experts, who have been able to discover exactly how various monarchs enjoyed their cocoa – and offer demonstrations for visitors. “I am keen to get experimenting with oils,” says Marc Meltonville, who has been researching dozens of original recipes. “I want to use chilli, Jamaica pepper, Guinea pepper and aniseed. You can grind them up and mix them with water, but infusing them in oil will improve the flavour.”

The chocolate would have been melted with water, milk, wine or other alcohol then, unlike its savoury South American ancestors, mixed with sugar and exotic spices such as vanilla, cardamom, aniseed, ‘Grain of Paradise and ‘Roses of Alexandria’.The earliest recipes date from the Stuart period. One, ‘The King’s Chocolate’, is the first of four ‘tasters’ visitors can try on a flight of historic chocolate cups in the Fountain Court cafĂ©. From a 1661 publication called The India Nectar, which purports to divulge the secret of ‘how the natives do it’ in the Americas the flavour is dark, dense and with a complex mix of spices that linger on the tongue.Hans Sloane first put milk into chocolate in around 1700 and the second sample is a Georgian style drink, with overtones of aniseed. The third is a classic Victorian recipe, very similar to modern hot chocolate and, after the darkness of the previous two drinks, rather sweet and sickly. The last item on the chocolate tasting menu has been designed by today’s palace chefs, reflecting a modern style. Made from vanilla-infused white chocolate, which uses only cocoa butter, rather than beans, and with a dried raspberry garnish it is a very different drink, sweet and aromatic.

There’s more at the link.  Here’s a video report about the discovery.

I’d love to visit that.  The thought of drinking chocolate made to a Restoration-era recipe, long before solid chocolate was invented, is fascinating!  If any of my British readers go there or have been there, please let us know how you found it by leaving a comment here.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *