To celebrate the idea of romance that many people tie to chocolate, this month we have shared a recipe that creates rich, decadent hot chocolate. The recipe came to Liz from a French chocolatier. The story behind the recipe is that we were researching opening a chocolate cafe and found a French chocolatier who wanted to open in the U.S. We studied the French chocolate business for a while but couldn’t find a location that was quite right so we decided on opening a B&B instead. That turned out to be a wonderful decision, but we are still are quite passionate about the chocolate cafe idea….you never know.
From a delicacy for kings to everyone’s favorite treat, from a sacred and revered heath food to a modern scientific wonder, the history of chocolate is rich, varied, and never boring.
Chocolate has long had a reputation as an aphrodisiac, starting with the Spanish conquistadors who assumed the emperor Montezuma was said to consume the bean in copious amounts to fuel his romantic trysts. Casanova, the famous lover, considered it his “favorite breakfast dish.” His memoirs reveal that he used chocolate as a bribe for the chaperones and guardians of the women he loved as much, if not more, than as a love potion.
The two elements in chocolate which scientists ascribe the aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate to are tryptophan and phenylethylamine. Tryptophan is a building block of serotonin, a brain chemical involved in sexual arousal while phenylethylamine is a stimulant related to amphetamine, which is released in the brain when people fall in love.
Despite the persistence of the myth that chocolate is an aphrodisiac, most researchers believe that the amounts of these substances in chocolate are too small to have any measurable effect on desire. However, numerous studies have reflected what many researchers believe: if chocolate has any aphrodisiac qualities, they are probably psychological, not physiological.
The health and science worlds are abuzz about chocolate’s antioxidants which support good health. All plant foods contain antioxidants, some more than others. Cacao is especially rich in them, and antioxidants can be found in abundance in dark chocolate and natural cocoa. As more health studies come out, there seem to be more and more reasons why the Mayans, Aztecs and early physicians were right in believing in the health value of chocolate.
With all of these benefits, who can deny that chocolate is more than just something delicious that appeals to our taste buds? So go ahead, indulge, you can feel good about eating something with proven health benefits and who knows, it might also help set the mood for romance.