Last weekend I was invited to tour Boston and the Old North Church with American Heritage Chocolate. I love both chocolate and history, so I happily said yes. Little did I know that it would be one of the most educational weekends I’ve had since, well, I can’t even remember. I’ll tell you more about the trip in an upcoming post, but today I’m going to share a recipe inspired by my trip to the North End of Boston.
In colonial America, chocolate was primarily consumed as a beverage. Thomas Jefferson believed that it would be a more popular drink than coffee or tea. It replaced tea for a time after the boycott on English tea. American Heritage Chocolate is an authentic historic line of products – developed from chocolate recipes from the 1750’s – that celebrates chocolate’s important role in the lives of Americans during the 18th century. It is reminiscent of what Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Ben Franklin would have enjoyed. (You can learn more about the history of chocolate here.)
To make chocolate, the cocoa beans were toasted in a pan then ground using a mortar and pestle. Then the cocoa nibs are spread onto a large heated stone metate and ground until the oils release. It takes about an hour and a lot of muscle. After the chocolate is ground, spices are added. Cinnamon, nutmeg, anise, red pepper, salt, orange peel, and vanilla. The chocolate was unsweetened and sold in a cake (it’s really more like a rock solid block than a cake, not sure where that term came from). The chocolate was finely grated with sugar (sugar was a luxury item at this time and very expensive) and added to boiling water and frothed using a pot designed just for this job. The end result is a dark, rich, spiced, delicious warm chocolate drink.
This is a demo of colonial chocolate making at Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop at the Old North Church. Named for Captain Newark Jackson who was a merchant and chocolate maker in Boston’s North End during the 1730’s and 40’s.
These days we don’t have to go to all of the trouble, we can buy pre-grated chocolate drink. I used both the cake and the drink mix to make these rich and chewy brownies. You can use American Heritage Chocolate as a replacement for semisweet chocolate with a one-to-one ratio. I used a combination of freshly grated and the drink mix. I love the texture in the frosting, and the grated chocolate melts while the brownies are baking. The end result is a lightly spiced and incredibly decadent brownie. I love this chocolate so much, and so do my kids. We are going to bring warm chocolate drink to school for my daughter’s famous person from Massachusetts project.
When I was at the Old North Church (made famous by Paul Revere. The site of the lanterns in the church steeple. “One if by land, two if by sea.”) we made chocolate bark using things that paid homage to Boston and the North End where the Old North Church is located. Necco Wafers, cannoli shells, maple syrup, Craisins, marshmallows, and Boston Baked Beans. I had forgotten all about these candies, I used to eat them all the time when I was a little girl. They had to make an appearance in these Old North Church inspired brownies.
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup American Heritage Finely Grated Chocolate Drink
- 1 cup grated American Heritage Chocolate Block
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup melted butter
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla
- 4 eggs
Spiced Chocolate Frosting:
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup American Heritage Finely Grated Chocolate Drink
- 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 to 5 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups lightly crushed Boston Baked Bean candies
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray. In another bowl, whisk sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla.
Grate the chocolate block using a fine grater.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.
Whisk together flour, chocolate drink, grated chocolate, and salt in a medium bowl.
Stir in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely on a cooling rack.
To make the frosting, cream butter and chocolate drink in the bowl of an electric mixer. Slowly add powdered sugar and salt. When all of the sugar is incorporated add vanilla and cream and beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
Spread over cooled brownies and sprinkle with crushed Boston Baked Beans.
I’d like to thank the Old North Church and American Heritage Chocolate for being such warm and gracious hosts. Both teams went above and beyond to make our visit memorable. I can’t wait to come back for another visit, this time with my family.
This post was sponsored by American Heritage Chocolate. American Heritage Chocolate is an authentic historic line of products—developed from chocolate recipes from the 1750’s—that celebrates chocolate’s important role in the lives of Americans during the 18th century and is reminiscent of what Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Ben Franklin would have enjoyed, combining all natural ingredients and exotic spices. It is made with all-natural ingredients and no preservatives, American Heritage Chocolate is an artisanal dark chocolate containing 63% cacao. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.