Friday, January 22, 2010

Cosimo de Medici's Divine Jasmine Chocolate

Did you ever see a fairytale of a film called Chocolat ? In it, the luminous Juliette Binoche plays a mysterious woman who owns a chocolate shop.



Its confections have deliciously magical properties and can awaken desire, unlock hidden yearnings, or instill courage depending on the needs of the customer. I cannot promise such outcomes with this Jasmine Chocolate, nor can I promise Johnny Depp will come swaggering through your door but I can tell you:

this chocolate is as close to it as you can get to romance in a cup, and you have time to get all the goodies you need to make it for Valentine’s Day!



Jasmine chocolate did not spring from a romantic icon like Binoche. It started with a rather porcine Cosimo III de' Medici (1642-1723), who became Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1670. He was a weak ruler with at least one strength: an unwavering determination to put to an end to Spain's supremacy in making chocolate.


Portrait 1660 Justus Sustermans

Indeed, the Spaniards managed to turn the New World’s bitter potion into a delicious sweet drink. Not to be outdone, the Grand Duke told his court scientists to develop new and more exciting recipes in his food laboratories.

It was there that Francesco Redi, a scientist, poet, physician and apothecary to Cosimo created this renowned jasmine chocolate drink.

"Cosimo turned his love for chocolate into a political tool". As Redi wrote in his letter, seen at an exhibition at the Civic Museum of Monsummano Terme in winter 2006 Its curator, Ida Fontana said "he counterposed to the Spanish perfection Florence's exquisite gentleness."


Portrait by Baldassare Franceschini

She continued, "Offered only to very important guests, the jasmine chocolate soon became the most sought-after drink at the European courts..." but the recipe remained a state secret until the Medici dynasty ended with the death of Cosimo's son Gian Gastone (a glutton who rarely left his filthy bed-a sad ending to a great family).


1764 Sevres Chocolate Cup

"At that time, chocolate was taken almost boiling and sipped very slowly from small [bowl-like] cups called "chicchere." Not one, but two napkins had to be used in the drinking ritual"said Fontana.

It took 12 days for the Grand Duke to make jasmine chocolate. "It wasn't an infusion, neither was it water flavored with jasmine. Making jasmine chocolate wasn't a simple preparation of food, it was an operation of botanical-gastronomical engineering," said Danielo Vestri, a chocolate maker who has reproduced the Medici recipe.


1725 Meissen Chocolate cup

"Layers of fresh jasmine flowers and chocolate were put one over the other. The process had to be repeated every 24 hours for 12 days. In this way, the jasmine petals provided the cocoa dough with a flavor never tasted before" Fontana revealed - not unlike the classic enfleurage method of capturing scent with odorless fat, straining and replacing the flowers in the fat till the perfect strength of enfleurage pomade is attained.

"It is simply delicious. And it is easy to digest: the cocoa dough was melted in water, not in milk. The Medici did not only influence the arts, but also chocolate. People at my shop go crazy for jasmine chocolate," Vestri said.

My version of the Medici chocolate formula uses fabled ambergris from Ambergris Co., NZ(which I wrote about here) and Jasmine Absolute (absolute being a highly concentrated plant extract) from Mandy Aftel at Aftelier Perfumes. She uses organic and wild-crafted sources and what she comes up with captures the heart and soul of jasmine in a bottle… the tiniest drop of which perfumes the cup. If you want to be adventurous you could also try her amazing Rose Absolute (which puts rosewater to shame) in your chocolate. It took her years to find the perfect rose and she did… from a small grower around Istanbul. Although she makes perfumes she also has an incredible selection of Chef Absolutes and Essential oils that can add clear new notes to your food and has written about using them in food in a book called Aroma: The Magic of Essential Oils in Foods and Fragrance.




Jasmine chocolate

6 ounces water, boiling

1 oz 100% chocolate, shaved (around a ¼ c)

1 ½ t sugar or honey

¼ tsp vanilla

1 slight drop of jasmine absolute

Green pea size piece of ambergris

To the boiling water add the shaved chocolate and stir till incorporated. Mash the ambergris into the sugar/honey and add to the chocolate. Stir to blend. If you have a cappuccino maker give it a minute with the steamer, then store, covered on the counter overnight. It will have developed a velvet texture that you may want to drink room temperature. If not, give it another go with the steamer or heat in a double boiler gently and whisk into a foam. Add one tiny drop of jasmine to the chocolate. Take care to gather up the ambergris that can deposit waxy specks that can cling to cups and pan as you pour the chocolate into two small espresso cups or one large. FYI: 1 small cup is only 82 calories, the whole recipe is 164 calories!

Or you could….

Make the above recipe. Add 4T heavy cream and 4T Armagnac or Cognac plus an extra 1 t of sugar or honey. Serve in cups or stemmed glasses.



For those of you with jasmine curling around your veranda and a supply of cocoa beans, here’s the original recipe:

Cosimo de Medici Chocolate

10 librae of roasted cocoa, cleaned and coarsely minced (1 libra = 12 oz.)


fresh jasmine petals 


8 librae white sugar

3 ounces vanilla flowers 


6 ounces cinnamon 


2 scruples (7.76 grams) ambergris

Put layers of cocoa and jasmine flowers in a box, one layer over the other. Let it rest for 24 hours, then change the jasmine flowers with fresh ones. Repeat 12 times. Add the other ingredients and combine them on a warmed marble surface until the chocolate dough forms.


18th c Mexican Cocoa Cup

If you would like to see how the “dough” was formed with the cocoa beans and a rolling pin, watch this video from Colonial Williamsburg:








Chocolate “Dough” from Art & Mystery of Food

79 comments:

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Very interesting post! Pass the chocolate, please :)

chapot said...

I like so much reading you, it's so interesting and your photos so wonderfull
I saw that film, and I liked it
I am sure my husband would agree in drinking Jasmine chocolate if I put some cognac or armagnac in it !

lostpastremembered said...

Savoring Time> glad we found one another... yes... I have been drinking this every day... can't stop!!!! Heavenly addictive.
Chapot> You will kiss with jasmine breath... how cool is that!

~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

I am joyous to have found your very interesting blog. I must copy the lobster recipe. Love your header! I have never seen that painting before but oh, my would I love to see those tables and dresses close up.

food with style said...

oh soooooooo gorgeous! and you are drinking everyday? lucky girl, i adore the scent of jasmine, it must be heavenly~ when mine bloom again i think i will be dashing to the kitchen!

lostpastremembered said...

Ahrisha> Thanks for jumping onboard... the tables are too good... I've been reading a bio of Careme... you should see his table settings!!! wow.. You will like the lobster... would work with your beautiful tables!

FWS> I should have known you would have jasmine... if you make this you must tell me!!!!

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Oh my! I think I just gained 10 pounds, reading your entry! ,-)

Thank you for stopping by and commenting in my photo blog. You said that you found me, in a round-about sort of way. You have me intrigued now. How did that round-about sort of a way, happen?

:-)

Trix said...

This is fascinating. Only now you've given something else to spend my meager coins on!! But you know I am just lusting after those chef absolutes. Also, people don't use the word porcine nearly enough!

Shelia said...

Hi and it's so nice to meet you! Oh, my goodness! Chocolate! This is a wonderful post. I feel very educated now! Thanks for all the info and the virtual chocolate.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

lostpastremembered said...

Aunt Amelia's Attic> You left a comment on Linda's blog, I think and I loved the picture so I clicked! So glad you stopped by!

Trix> I was just writing to the lovely Amy at Aftelier about putting together little samples for chef's essences as she does for perfume so one could try a few. I went to a lecture of hers Wednesday and smelled so many amazing scents... it was a real game-changer. I can't tell you how remarkable they are! For a new pastry chef... this is great stuff! And porcine is a fine word...much more elegant than piggy! What a few generations can do to a great family. WHOa! I tried to be accurate but gentle.

Shelia> so glad you could stop by... the chocolate is insanely good. Like I said... your kisses will taste like flowers!

Barbara said...

Now you've done it! Johnny Depp AND chocolate in the same blog? Oh my. Drool.
Fascinating as always and I am now off to look at all your links. I'm totally intrigued by the Rose Absolute.

lostpastremembered said...

Barbara> Yup... does it get better than Depp and chocolate??? Nah.

The Rose Absolute will knock your socks off... best I have every smelled. For you gardeners, it's like a damask rose combined with a sterling silver... I'm making my traditional Valentine's cupcakes with it this year instead of rosewater! And, you can use it as a perfume too... how cool is that!

susan said...

Thank you for stopping by Sauce and Sensibility. I thought I'd return the gesture and wow--what an interesting post...and a lovely site--very creative and so well researched--a delight I shall return to.

xinex said...

Very interesting post and I am so in love with those Sevres and Meissen cups and saucers....Christine

La Table De Nana said...

You had me searching Crème De Violettes..None in our SAQ..none at the LCBO either..we even went today~
I loved "Chocolat"..Your posts are very creative~

lostpastremembered said...

Susan> That is great praise coming from a great blogger like yourself!
Thanks and I think we'll both be leaning over our virtual backgates a good deal!
Xinex> Glad you liked the Sevres... it does look like your pattern a bit, doesn't it? I try to give people a sense of what things were like back in the day... no big cocoa mugs for them!!! Let's visit again soon!

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

The painting you use, in your Header, is breathtaking. So much detail! I love it.

lostpastremembered said...

La Table De Nana> If you click on creme de violette on the blog post Aviatrix, you will go to Astor Wine who will send you the lovely lavender liqueur you crave. I try to give sources for all the unusual ingredients I seem to crave... half of the fun of this blog has been trying new things or things I've always meant to try... an early bucket list!
Aunt Amelia's attic> I am so glad you like the painting... wouldn't you love to go to a party like that?

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Love the scent of Jasmine....and I think Lavender and orange too would be GREAT.....Lovely history too!

Sage said...

Merci for coming to my Blog. I am learning so much here. Jasmine Green Tea makes the world is a better place.
Rita

Chow and Chatter said...

thanks so much for visiting my blog great post so interesting my daughter is called Jasmine will tweet this lol Rebecca

lostpastremembered said...

Kitchen Butterfly> I think Aftelier has those too! I can't wait to try more of her essences and absolutes.

Sage>Whew, I want to try green tea with my jasmine... this absolute is so much clearer than my old jasmine tea... great idea, Thanks for visiting Rita!

Chow & Chatter: Get the Jasmine for Jasmine??? That would be fun. Thanks for the visit Rebecca!

All Our Fingers in the Pie said...

You never fail to amaze me! This is so interesting. I'll be checking out the rose and jasmine absolute.

lostpastremembered said...

Sarah> Thanks for your kind words.. I thought chocolate dough was very cool... never knew about that till last year! I do hope you get to try the absolutes!

Chemin des Muguets said...

Thank you for dropping by my blog. I was thrilled to discover yours. I am wild about jasmine, and the above post is intriguing.

Cheers,

Marjorie

lostpastremembered said...

Chemin des muguets> thanks for the visit... if you love jasmine... click the link... you will be astonished!. You have the best picture, Marjorie!

Angie said...

Very interesting post, I love chocolate, great recipe!

lostpastremembered said...

Angie> thanks for stopping by! It is such a simple guilty pleasure to make...and not even fattening!!!

daniela said...

great post!!! I'd like to make a similar one one my blog..... if I do, I'll tag you, surely!!! thanks for your kind words.
Dani

lostpastremembered said...

Daniela> I would be honored to be mentioned on a chocolate blog... most kind!

Faith said...

I can't think of anything more romantic than the sweet smell of jasmine perfuming the air...except maybe if jasmine is combined with chocolate! This sounds like a divine combination...I love that phrase -- "botanical-gastronomical engineering".

lostpastremembered said...

Faith> yeah, I liked that too... i really want to try his chocolate shop next time I'm in Italy! I was thinking about giving away a little sample of the jasmine and ambergris for a blog present... do you think people would like it???

zurin said...

a very interesting post! Chocolate I love and live for it! so its good to know a nice story behind it..n thanks for visiting :))

Nancy Jane said...

Your blog is absolutely enchanting. So glad you stopped to see me so I could 'discover' you! Nancy
PS: I adore 'Chocolat'. It's a film I enjoy watching again and again...

Carolyn Jung said...

I'm intrigued by how those original ornate cups look a little like Chinese tea cups. Wonder if there is a connection? Interesting!

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

You're amazing!! The effort you put into your posts puts me to shame. I loved watching Chocolat. Great photos!

Hélène said...

I discoved your blog. All your posts are very interesting. It will a pleasure to take the time to go through them all in detail. It's always interesting to learn the story around a famous recipe.

lostpastremembered said...

So many new faces!
Zurin>Glad you liked the chocolate post! The video is really fun to watch!
Nancy Jane> Enchanting? What lovely word. Thanks! Chocolat is such a great movie to watch for chocolate lovers....I love it too!
Carolyn: The handle-less cups are directly from the Chinese... remember this was just as porcelain was beginning in the West...they stole a little from the masters! You always teach me something when I go to your site.
Ju> The posts are too much fun to do.. I learn so much! Thanks for stopping by!
Helene>Glad we found one another... I love French blogs... it's a little visit to France each time I read....I miss it!

Becky said...

Sounds like heaven. I drink 2 cups of jasmine tea every day and would have never thought of it with chocolate ... but it makes sense!

Gemma said...

Chocolat is one of my favourite films. I belive chocolate has magical properties... It exists a secret recipe for every situation.
You wrote a very tasty post :)

Cam de la Ron said...

This is the cutest and most exquisite post I've seen all day! Ooh, and you even kept my attention with the black background. For some reason, I have an aversion to this normally and will just click to the next blog (must be psychological), but not with yours. Very nice work. Cam

lostpastremembered said...

Becky> I don't know about the tea... the absolute is very clear... I got dried jasmine first and it just didn't do the same thing.
Gemma> I do think chocolate is magical... it certainly makes me feel better when I drink it!
Cam de la Ron: Thank you... I like black, it is soothing to my eyes,,, go figureI'm glad you overcame your adversity and read on... most kind!!

Deanna said...

That looks and sounds delicious. I've only tried lavender and chocolate but I love jasmine. I wonder if I can find the alcohol for it though.

lostpastremembered said...

Deanna> Hmmm, alcohol? It's not necessary... the absolute is fine just with the chocolate... and cognac is not so hard to find...though I do like armagnac best...

Kathy said...

I have enjoyed your posts so much, love all the photographs and the medici info, the cocoa cup, the chocolatier and your Jasmine chocolate recipe. I also loved the movie, so magical. Kathy.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Oh, lovely! Great information!

Cheers,

Rosa

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

That is so fascinating! To think of doing that whole process of jasmine chocolate over a 12 day period in that time is quite amazing! :o Come to think of it I've never tried jasmine and chocolate together (although a jasmine macaron that I had sent me into raptures!) :)

Fresh Local and Best said...

This is an impressively detailed post rich with history and culinary traditions I would not have discovered. Thank you for putting such an informative post together on a subject we all find so exquisite.

lostpastremembered said...

Kathy>Thanks for stopping by... the cups are lovely... wouldn't it be great to have one?
Rosa's Yummy Yums> Now you know all you would ever want to know about chocolate? Maybe not... but a good start.
Lorraine> They had servants... I think things taking time was expected then.
Fresh Local and Best> Much thanks... as I say... half the fun is finding this stuff out!

BNDQ8 said...

i had watched the movie long back...it was a beautiful movie..her passion for chocolates is just beautiful!! i love the way you wrote your post.. :)

Kathleen said...

I'm so happy to have found your beautiful blog! Can't wait to try the cocktail!

lostpastremembered said...

BNSQ8> it is a wonderful film... really does a lot with chocolate and its magic powers. Thanks for the visit.

Kathleen> Oh do try the cocktail... but try to get the jasmine... it makes it transcendent!

Vanessa said...

You have such a lovely blog. Chocolate is such a big passion of mine but I had no idea about it's rich and interesting history. I remember watching Chocolat and drooling over all the goodies; I had to go and drink a hot chocolate afterwards! Your recipe sounds absolutely wonderful and I can't wait to try it.

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

that's a very fascinating recipe....one I would love to try. I am tickled you stopped by my blog and hope to see you often. Have a super great week. :)

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and introducing me to yours. This massive piece of chocolate looks incredible! I don't know what jasmine tastes like but I'd be game to try it.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Bonjour Madame! You visited my blog and I just wanted to thank you and wow! What a wonderful world you have! I love food as well and I hope that you had a chance to visit one of the French blogs that I featured: Le Journal Gourmand de Sacha....she will take your breath away with her recipes. They are beautifully photographed on her property in France and lovingly made in her own kitchen. Please visit her via my main blog, Castles Crowns and Cottages! Thanks for coming by, Anita

lostpastremembered said...

Vanessa> I have really enjoyed learning about chocolate... glad so many have shared my interest!
Lynn>Visiting new blogs has been fun. It's great to see what other people are doing!
Sarah> Coming from a dessert person... thanks for stopping by. The absolutes will change your cooking!

5 Star Foodie said...

This is truly fascinating! I loved reading the history of Jasmine Chocolate and I really would love to try this!

lostpastremembered said...

Castles Crowns and Cottages> Thanks for the recommendation and so happy you enjoy my blog. I will stop by Le Journal, Anita!
5 Star> Thanks for stopping by... it's great you are fascinated!!!

dada said...

Very interesting, the food with a story :-). Thanks for this post. I love jasmine with chocolate and all the cups are so delicate;-)

The Muse said...

So very happy to make your acquaintance here in blogland. And I must tell you that my love all things edible (mostly dark chocolate) and my passion for history...make your blog a proverbial treat to this Muse.

I do hope we keep connected for I have so enjoyed my time here!

lostpastremembered said...

Dada> Thanks and it was good to find your beautiful blog!!! Jasmine and chocolate are a match made in heaven!!
The Muse> We all need a Muse in our corners!!! I agree... stay connected!

Barbara Bakes said...

I loved that movie too! Your drinks do sound perfect for Valentines!

lostpastremembered said...

Barbara>Thanks for stopping by... the movie makes you love chocolate even more... if that's possible!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Thanks for visiting my blog daaaaaahing. This was a wonderful post with a super exotic recipe. Ambergris as an ingredient... tres fabulous!
*kisses* HH

lostpastremembered said...

Heavenly Housewife> It is exotic... but you can just make the chocolate and leave off the extra scents... I plan to confuse everyone with my next post!!!

Diane {createdbydiane.blogspot.com} said...

I love that movie! I will have to try to make some. Thanks for stopping by my blog, I'm following yours and looking forward to see what you'll post next.

2 Stews said...

Wow...what a dazzling post! So many of my favorites and soon to be favorites all stirred into 1 cup :-)

A lot of things to check out here...I think adding cognac sounds divine!

Thanks!

Diane

lostpastremembered said...

Diane> It was great sharing visits!
2 Stews> Mmmm cognac... it does make chocolate better... I like armagnac and chocolate even more.

Perfumeshrine said...

It does look supremely appetising! And I love how you included calories too!! :-)
Wonder if leaving honey out would let the ambergris and more bitter elements of choco show through better. Honey gives a whole other nuance of its own, I find (which I like in other recipes, but not in my chocolate I guess). Oh well...
Fine post!

Perfumeshrine

lostpastremembered said...

Perfumeshrine> Your comments are compelling... the honey that I use and recommend does wonders for coffee and chocolate... it is a warm sweetness which I think works well with them both... but it must be a very mild honey or it will overpower completely. Haven't tried agave but it might be interesting. I might try it sans sweetening one day... but honey and ambergris have gone together for millennia!

Dolce said...

Love chocolate! and I really liked the movie. It was sensitive yet witty... Sigh... :)

lostpastremembered said...

Dolce> with a blog with chocaholic in it...this is the place to be.. stay tuned for more!

Ginny said...

I'm loving your blog! Such a wonderful mix of food and history! :)

lostpastremembered said...

Ginny> Thanks so much for stopping... I love history!

All Our Fingers in the Pie said...

Deana, which flavours of the absoluts have you tried? Do you have any favourites?

Magic of Spice said...

Love it!!!

Super Bowl 2012 said...

Nice one. Thanks for the share.

Karina A. Fogliani-Ahmed said...

I love the idea behind Afterlier and cannot wait to try her cooking essences.

Ambergris and hot chocolate... yet another must try for this winter.