Chocolate was brought back from the Americas by the Spanish conquistadors at the end of the 16th century but was only officially introduced to the French royal court by Anne of Austria, daughter of the king of Spain, in 1615 when she married King Louis XIII of France. Chocolate at that time was served as a drink and was reserved for the elite, the rich and the powerful.
In 1660, another queen, Marie-Thérèse of Austria, King Louis XIV’s wife, develops a passion for the drink that she drinks all day long. She is neglected by her husband and finds comfort in the hot beverage. It is said that her quarters were filled with the delicious waft of cocoa.
This passion for cocoa is soon shared by her rival, Madame de Maintenon, the King’s mistress, who turns it into a fashion. In Versailles it is served every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at the Court, and in 1680 the word ‘chocolat’ makes its entry in the dictionary.
The craze for cocoa becomes greater with King Louis XV; he is a real cocoa enthusiast and even prepares it himself (yes, himself!) in his own apartments following his own recipe. And here it is in its original French:
For those of you who find that their 18th century French is a little rusty, here is a rough translation:
“Put as many bars of chocolate as cups of water in coffee pot and let them simmer gently; when you are ready to serve, add an egg yolk for 4 cups and stir with a stick on a gentle heat without bringing to the boil. If it is prepared the day before, it is better, those who have it everyday reserve a leaven for the one they will make the next day ; you can, instead of the egg yolk add the whisked egg white, after the first lather has been removed, mix it in a little chocolate from the coffee pot, and add it to the pot and finish as for the egg yolk.”
Yummy! I hope this recipe is as clear for you as it is for me. I am not entirely certain I am going to rush and try it, but if you do, please let me know what it tastes like. If it’s fit for a king, designed by a king and made by a king himself (yes, himself!), it can’t be that bad.