Making Hot Chocolate from Scratch the Old-Fashioned Way


The authors of an 1877 cookbook wrote instructions for preparing hot chocolate. There is no mention of adding sugar so it seems they drank unsweetened hot chocolate. I’m sure this was healthier but doesn’t sound tasty.

Here’s the recipe:

Dissolve six tablespoons of scraped chocolate or three tablespoons of scraped chocolate and three tablespoons of cocoa in a quart of boiling water. Bring the chocolate mixture to a hard boil for fifteen minutes.

Add one quart of milk. Heat to scalding, then serve while hot. This serves six.

I decided to make hot chocolate the old-fashioned way.

I used Baker’s Unsweetened Baking Chocolate, boiled in water for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally. The water thickened to a thin gravy consistency and may have been much thicker had it boiled longer.

I added milk and heated the mixture to scalding, stirring frequently to prevent it from sticking to the pot.

The drink looked very tempting. Though I don’t even like unsweetened tea, I tried it. In my opinion, hot chocolate tastes better with sugar. I added a teaspoon of sugar. Much better but not sweet enough for my taste.

I ended up adding two and a half teaspoons of sugar to my mug of hot chocolate.

I think this would be a fun activity with your children or at a fall party when the weather cools. It will be fun to see how much sugar/sweetener that each person requires for the perfect cup of hot chocolate.

-Sandra Merville Hart



Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 2011.



4 thoughts on “Making Hot Chocolate from Scratch the Old-Fashioned Way

  1. How very interesting! I’m not fond of really sweet things but no sugar might be a little hard to take. Chocolate must have been a special treat to the average family even in the late 1800’s. I wonder how different their chocolate was compared to Baker’s unsweetened chocolate.


    • Karen, I believe that chocolate may have been a “sometimes” treat for most families, especially early on. I’m not sure how differently the chocolate was made and packaged in the 1800s. I picture it as big chunks of chocolate that cooks took shavings from, but I’m not certain if they came from an old photo or a description in a book. Baker’s Unsweetened chocolate came closest to what I envisioned. I’d love to hear if you try the recipe. Thanks for commenting!


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