Jamaican Hot Chocolate

Jamaican chocolate, home-made style is not like other hot chocolates that are commonly available in supermarkets. Ask any down-to-earth Jamaican about this beloved beverage and you will get an explanation bordering on enjoyment and caution.

And that’s the truth, because apart from the enjoyment you have to be cautious when you sip our hot chocolate.

But let me digress a little and address the “manufacturing processes” that bring this hot drink to the market.

Chocolate comes from the seeds of the cacao pods which are picked from the cacao tree. The pods are chopped open to remove the seeds.

The seeds are then put out to dry on zinc sheets, banana leaves, or concrete lawns, for about a week. This week-long exposure of the cacao seeds is done to remove the moisture and catch the chocolate flavor.

The seeds are then “parched” in a pot to remove more moisture, and essentially roasted.

Even though the seeds are ready, they must now be ground into a manageable form to make the golf sized chocolate balls.

A huge mortar & pestle is used to beat the parched seeds to a pulp like state. A time-consuming task I must admit, but who’s checking when chocolate is being made?

After that, the preparers use their bare hands to form the ground Jamaican chocolate into golf-sized chocolate balls for sale in the open market place. The shape may not be exactly rounded nevertheless, but who cares.

The hot chocolate “tea” is then made by grating the chocolate balls on a medium grain grater, and then boiling the grated chocolate with ample amount of water.

Dried cinnamon sticks or leaves are always added to the Jamaican hot chocolate tea during the cooking process…this enhances the tea’s flavor.

The Jamaican hot chocolate tea is bulk sweetened with condensed milk, sugar, and salt. It is strained into each family member’s enamel mug and cautiously sipped to ones enjoyment. Well you might be wondering why I say cautiously sipped.

Well I tell you mon, because chocolate is naturally oily, when it is made into tea the oil rises to the top. And that hot oil will scorch your lips and tongue.

So we all had to be careful on Sundays when we serve the big breakfast with the Jamaican hot chocolate tea.

Well, the powdered form of cacao which is sold in stores was not referred to as “chocolate” at all. It was called cocoa…duh? This powdered drink was commercially made in factories and branded with all sorts of cute names.

The city folks, who considered themselves sophisticated, liked this drink. It was light, smooth, and convenient to make…no grating, no waiting. And the quality was good enough.

Some years I ago was in Melbourne, Australia, and ordered hot chocolate in a little restaurant. The shop keeper gave me a cup of hot cocoa. I was a little bit disappointed because I am used to the real deal, you know. However, I drank it and didn’t complain because it tasted o.k.

Wherever I have traveled throughout the world I am served hot cocoa instead of hot chocolate. What would they say if they ever tried Jamaican hot chocolate tea? The sparks would surely fly…that is for some people.

I must admit that cocoa tastes good, but it will never beat Jamaican hot chocolate tea.This tea is not for the faint-hearted, it is very dense and rough. You get the real chocolate taste, like you’ve never had.

If you are up to it…then try making this tea:

1 Jamaican Chocolate Ball.

3 tbsp. Sugar

¼ cup Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 quart Water

A pinch of Salt.

3 Cinnamon Leaves or 2 Cinnamon Sticks

Grate Jamaican chocolate ball in a plate. Bring the water to boil in the meantime, and then add chocolate and cinnamon to the pot of boiling water.

Allow the tea to boil for fifteen to twenty minutes. Sweetened to taste then remove cinnamon.

Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy your Jamaican hot chocolate with a friend or relative.

A word of caution:

1. If you use cocoa powder, you will not get the same effect.

2. This tea retains its heat for a long time, so don’t rush drinking it.


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