Once chocolate reached Spain, the transformation from a bitter beverage to a delicious delicacy began. The chile was removed and replaced with sugar, and the Spaniards decided that the drink tasted best served hot. Doctors began to prescribe chocolate as a remedy to cure pain and reduce fevers, and the church approved it as a nutritional supplement to take while fasting.
The first cocoa processing plant opened in Spain in 1580, and by the early 1600s, chocolate had spread across Europe. Chocolate beverages became a popular alternative to the everyday coffee and tea, and in 1657, the first chocolate house opened in London. Any person who could pay the admission fee was able to frequent these social establishments, though the high cost of producing chocolate made it unaffordable for most.
The 1700s brought the first of many important industrial changes to the chocolate industry. The invention of the steam engine allowed large quantities of beans to be ground quicker using less labor. This caused such a significant drop in price that chocolate transitioned from a luxury item into a treat for the masses.
The invention of the cocoa press further changed how chocolate was made. In 1828, Dutch chocolate maker Casparus Van Houten patented a method for pressing the fat (cocoa butter) from roasted cocoa beans. The remaining solids could then be ground into a powder, paving the way for the cocoa powder that we use in baking and beverages today.
1847 was another major milestone in chocolate's history. Can you guess what happened? Check back soon for the answer!