From the court of the Bentivoglio family in Bologna during the 1600s comes this recipe for hot chocolate. Their cook, Giuseppe Lamma, was responding to the fashion of the day in writing a recipe for processing the cocoa bean along with his own rendition of the drink, chocolate (the candy was still far off). Some historians claim Italians taught the art of chocolate making to the French and English in the 1700s. Another logical explanation is all the Spanish connections with those countries through diplomacy, noble marriages and alliances. After all, it was the Spanish who brought chocolate to Europe from the Americas, and they adopted chocolate drinking with great enthusiasm.
First, try this recipe as written; then, you might want to substitute milk for the water. Serve as a dessert in small cups, or chill and spoon up as a cream.
1. Combine all ingredients except chocolate and extract in a 4-quart pot. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook 5 minutes.
2. Turn off heat, leave covered, and let steep 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Strain into an 8-quart pot. Set over medium heat, adding the chocolate.
4. Whisk until just below the boil, tasting for extra vanilla. Then froth by whisking vigorously.
5. Ladle into small cups and serve hot.
The Splendid Table mug is available from Pretty Good Goods for $13.95.
"Vegetables are perishable, so we don't have any indication of what they looked like 500 years ago," says James Nienhuis, a professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin.