At Captain Jackson’s, it’s no secret that we love 18th century chocolate, so you can imagine our excitement when we recently discovered an 18th century cookbook that contained six chocolate recipes for us to try. The Cook’s and Confectioner’s Dictionary: or, the Accomplish’d Housewife’s Companion was written by John Nott, “Cook to his Grace the Duke of Bolton” and printed in London in 1723. You can see the full book here.
In the introduction, Nott explains that his book is “chiefly design’d for the Use of you British Housewives,” but it may be viewed as a “necessary Companion also for Cooks, &c. in Taverns, Eating-Houses, and publick Inns.” Nott’s assertion that his dictionary “is the richest in Variety, and so the compleatest Book, of its Kind, yet extant” is supported by the impressive contents of the book, which include information and instructions for preparing everything from ale to zests.
The first chocolate recipe from Nott’s dictionary that we tried was article 129, “To make Milk Chocolate.” Milk chocolate as it’s known today was not invented until 1875, so we were eager to taste milk chocolate as it was in the 1700s. The resulting dessert is thicker than colonial drinking chocolate, but not quite the consistency of a pudding or cream. It’s almost a chocolate soup! With the addition of milk and sugar, this milk chocolate is also sweeter than traditional drinking chocolate, making it perfect for anyone who finds darker chocolate to be slightly too bitter for their taste. Whether you sip or spoon your 18th century milk chocolate, it’s sure to please as a rich and decadent dessert.
In interpreting this historic recipe, we made a few minor changes. Nott’s original recipe calls for “Chocolate without Sugar,” but American Heritage Historic Chocolate already contains a small amount of sugar. We compensated for this by following Nott’s advice in another of his chocolate recipes: “if your Chocolate be with Sugar, take double the Quantity of Chocolate, and half the Quantity of Sugar.” We also scaled down the quantities of each of the ingredients, so our recipe makes about 4 servings.
- ½ cup American Heritage Historic Chocolate Drink Mix
- 2 cups + 2 teaspoons milk
- ¼ cup white refined sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Stir cornstarch into 2 teaspoons of cold milk until completely dissolved. Set aside.
- In a large sauce pot, bring 2 cups of milk to a simmer over medium heat.
- Stir chocolate, sugar, and salt into milk. Whisk continuously until all ingredients are completely dissolved.
- Return to a simmer and stir in cornstarch mixture. Reduce heat to low and whisk constantly for three minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow to stand uncovered for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Milk chocolate will thicken slightly as it cools.
- Pour or ladle into small cups for serving and enjoy!