Mondays at the Miss Witt Kitchen are often a time for Home Education groups. I have got to know some great mums and children recently. Monday’s lesson was about how the Aztecs and Mayans would use chocolate.
In ancient times the Mayans and Aztecs would grind the cocoa bean to make a chocolate drink. The drink entailed magical spices e.g. cinnamon, vanilla, cloves and nutmeg. They mixed the ground cocoa with water, rather than milk. The drink tasted spicy and bitter compared with our modern day hot chocolate.
During the late 17th century Hans Sloane, President of the Royal College of Physicians, visited Jamaica. When he tried the drink, it made him feel nauseous so decided to add milk to the recipe and brought it back to England, and the rest is history!
To make your own Aztec inspired hot chocolate drink see recipe below
Stage 1 – Make the Hot Chocolate stick
Melt 200g of chocolate slowly in a microwave or using a hairdryer, leave to cool.
To check the chocolate is at the correct temperature to work with, tap the chocolate on your lip using a spoon – make sure it feels cooler than your lip! Pipe into your silicone freezer tray. Place lollipop sticks in the tray leave to set.
Stage 2 - Creating the drink
1 litre milk
3 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod seed scrapped out
Pour milk in a saucepan add all the spices. Bring it to just below boiling point, strain through a sieve and use a whisk to create a frothy top. Divide the milk between 4 cups, stir in your chocolate stick. The warm flavoured milk will slowly melt the chocolate to create a delicious drink.
The end of last month I was invited to Judge at Wessex Salon Culinaire, one of the UK largest live culinary competitions. The popular event, which is held in association with The Craft Guild of Chefs, has grown in stature over the years and is a fantastic platform for all chefs, but especially student chefs, to get a first taste of competition experience.
The venue was Brockenhurst College, located in the heart of the New Forest National Park. It is one of the Country's top colleges and has been awarded the prestigious Beacon College status for excellence and innovation in further education.
Brockenhurst college played a fundamental part in my life to where I am today. Taking a trip back in time to September 1995 it was my dream destination. I will never forget wearing those chef whites for the 1st time … the buzz of the kitchen, the excitement of learning classical French cooking, the style of my heroes The Roux Brothers, it was heaven. I did try to spend as much time as I could in the pastry kitchen, even sneaking in when I was on a different section, just because I wanted to spend my whole time working with chocolate and other delicious sweet ingredients. I can remember my name being called out “Where is Miss Witt?!” when they noticed I had disappeared! The tutors at Brockenhurst were 1st class, 2 of them are still playing an active role today, nurturing the students to their full potential.
One of the highlights for me at the competition was to see a student create a chocolate show piece, he demonstrated so many different skills using different techniques. For next year’s Salon Culinaire I have been asked to play a role in designing new classes for attracting more entries in the pastry section. This is going to be an exciting role and will incorporate skills the chefs need to have if they would like to become part of the next generation of chocolatiers.