I feel so American right now, and I’m not even being sarcastic.
When I learned I would be getting some American Heritage chocolate in the mail, I thought, oh, cool, I like historical approaches. When I got my box and brought out its contents, I thought, my, I like these people.
Did I get excited over a wood box before? Why? The one my American Heritage samples were in surpasses all: it smells like fresh wood, has a perfect brand of the logo, and has a wonderful sliding-off top. Guess where my chocolate stash will be stored from now on. I found, nesting in wood shavings, the instruments of chocolate alchemy (okay, not quite that).
Let’s back up to the company for a moment. Surprisingly, they’re a division of MARS. And they seem to have the history down all the way. My press booklet had some chocolaty quotes from the likes of Ben Franklin, and info and pictures on chocolate in Colonial America (also a cool demonstration video). My greatly American feeling comes partly from knowing that I am blogging on a mainly-British site about the drink Americans drank when protesting against said British realm’s rule. (Not that American Heritage really talked about this, but what could be a better thing to use in a rebellion than chocolate?)
Inside some different kinds of packaging (including an impressive cloth bag), we have a chocolate block and chocolate sticks, which can be nibbled on by the brave, used in recipes, and melted into drinks. Covered in cocoa powder, they don’t look like much (and the block feels just like a brick), but the smell incredible. I believe I died for a second when I caught the first scent. It’s chocolate the food and the presence. There are a handful of spices added (not listed in the ingredients by name) like anise, cinnamon, and orange. “Historical” spices.
Not able to resist, I sliced off the smallest bit of the block to taste. Honestly, “awesome” was the first adjective that came to mind. Don’t get me wrong, it’s strong with all the spices and a lingering bitter kick. But it’s also an interesting oddity. I also tried mixing one of the sticks into a cup of black coffee, which tasted nice but wasn’t so simple as I’d hoped: you can’t just stir the stick in properly without using a spoon. Still, it’s a nice chance for a highly flavored coffee drink that’s also free of truckloads of artificial sugar. It makes an earthy, more grown-up drink. (Not grown-up of me was trying to turn the melted end of the stick into a lollipop).
At this point, I was still liking the idea of it all the best; yet behold, I had saved the proper and intended method of consumption for last. At the stovetop and armed with a wire whisk, I made a cup or two of hot chocolate, starting to swoon a little again over the aroma. One sip, and I knew this was the way to go. Same story as before with all the spices and the semi-rustic chocolate, interpreted now in the most becoming way. Probably not the sort of thing to suit every modern palette, but I’m enjoying thoroughly this drink of Americans.
Recommended as a high-quality oddity/novelty item and a quaint historical escapade. The American Heritage website is also worth poking around for further info.