Edith Maxwell is taking us back to 1888 to make hot chocolate and tell us about her new book, Delivering the Truth.
Quaker midwife Rose Carroll delivers babies and hears secrets serving the mothers and newborns of her 1888 Massachusetts mill town. But when arson destroys many of the town’s carriage factories and two murders tear apart the town, Rose is driven by a desire to keep her loved ones safe and seek justice for the victims. She begins asking questions of her clients and others in the community—including the famous Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier. Yet these questions lead Rose into danger, and it takes all of her strength and resourcefulness to bring the perpetrators to light.
Rose might well have made a pot of hot chocolate for a tasty hot sweet drink in the evening for herself and her five nieces and nephews. As a Quaker, she wouldn’t have added a slug of rum, but her unconventional friend, Postmistress Bertie Winslow surely would have. Rose would make the chocolate on the wood cook stove in the kitchen of her late-sister’s home where she resides with her moody brother-in-law and his five children. You’re welcome to use the stove of your choice.
I’ve adapted the recipe from the one in Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book and Marketing Guide (1880), and have added my own notes, too. The drink is made from scratch, of course – as everything was in those days – but it wasn’t very much harder than adding some Hershey’s syrup to warm milk.
1-ounce unsweetened chocolate, scraped fine (I used a fine grater)
2 tablespoons sugar (I used 3)
1 tablespoon hot water
2 cups milk
Put milk to boil. Combine chocolate, sugar, and hot water in a small saucepan over high heat and stir a minute or two until it is perfectly smooth and glossy. Remove from heat. Add milk and whisk together. Serve at once. (Sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.)
Miss Parloa says, “Made in this way, chocolate is perfectly smooth, and free of oily particles. If it is allowed to boil after the chocolate is added to the milk, it becomes oily and loses its fine flavor.” (p. 387)
Agatha-nominated and Amazon best-selling author Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and the Local Foods Mysteries, the Country Store Mysteries (as Maddie Day), and the Lauren Rousseau Mysteries (as Tace Baker), as well as award-winning short crime fiction. Her story, “A Questionable Death,” which features the same 1888 setting and characters as Delivering the Truth, is nominated for a 2016 Agatha Award for Best Short Story.