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Historical recipe: Spiced hot chocolate – the drink banned by Oliver Cromwell

In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. In this article, Sam recreates spiced hot chocolate – a chocolate treat enjoyed by kings and queens

Published: November 3, 2021 at 4:55 pm
  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Total time
  • Difficulty 1/10

Hot chocolate has always been one of my favourite drinks but I have often wondered when the drink was first consumed in Britain.

I was surprised to find out that chocolate itself arrived in England in the 1600s, with evidence of it being drunk at the court of Charles I – before it was deemed a sinful pleasure by Oliver Cromwell, and banned.

This recipe is based on the drink served at the English court during the 17th and 18th centuries and the spices make it smell – and taste – wonderful. It’s also very simple to make.

The drink is very rich – you won’t need a big portion – but since chocolate was believed to have medicinal properties well into the mid-18th century, you can see it as a relatively guilt-free treat!

On the podcast – Christmas feasts with Annie Gray

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  • 75g Dark chocolate (minimum 70 per cent cocoa solids, broken into small pieces)
  • 400ml whole milk
  • 2 Cardamom pods, freshly ground
  • 2 Star anise
  • 1tsp Ground cinnamon
  • Zest from half an orange, grated
  • Pinch of Chilli flakes


  • STEP 1

    Toast the cardamom seeds and star anise in a frying pan over a low heat for 1–2 minutes.

  • STEP 2

    Stir in the chilli flakes, orange zest and cinnamon.Cook for another minute, until the orange zest starts to dry out.

  • STEP 3

    Place the spices into a mortar and grind with a pestle until it turns into a fine powder.

  • STEP 4

    Put the broken chocolate pieces, ground spices and milk into a pan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Heat until the chocolate has melted and the liquid is hot.

Recipe taken from Chocolate Fit for a Queen by Historic Royal Palaces (Ebury Press, 2015)

This article was first published in the July 2015 issue of BBC History Magazine


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