The roots of Cantuccini, from Tuscany
According to tradition, hot chocolate as we know it today was born in the 1660s, when Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy decided to celebrate the relocation of the Savoy capital from Chambéry to Turin by preparing the first cup of this drink; in fact, it was already known at the Spanish court in the 16th century.
In the 18th century, chocolate houses sprang up in London and various parts of England, which became at least as famous as coffee houses: in these places, customers could enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and talk freely about politics, economics, science and philosophy. The first 'Chocolate House' was established in the British capital in 1657, but due to its excessive cost, hot chocolate was for more than a century a drink reserved for the elite of society. The term 'hot chocolate' was probably coined in Italy much later: initially the drink was simply called cioccolata.
However, when chocolate bars, sold mainly in bars, became widespread, it became clear that an adjective had to be added to chocolate in drink form to distinguish it from solid chocolate. In 1828, the first machine producing hot chocolate with cocoa, water, milk and sugar was born in the Netherlands. The fragrance of the drink that came out of the machine, however, was different from the original, as it was more acidic. It was discovered shortly afterwards that the inventors of the machine had used cocoa substitute, which was less tasty than pure cocoa but bound more easily with milk and hot water.
The custom of adding whipped cream to hot chocolate became widespread in the United States of America: this made the drink more palatable but certainly more calorific. However, the imagination of bartenders does not stop there: from honey to coffee, from caramel to cream, from cereals to nuts, everything can be added (with more or less satisfactory results) to hot chocolate. Today, hot chocolate is drunk and appreciated in Europe (including Italy) and all over the world (India in particular). Recently, 'cold' chocolate, the composition of which is the same as that of hot chocolate, has emerged in Italy.