Although hot chocolate is most associated with winter, we would welcome a warm cup of cocoa any time of the year. Hot chocolate not only transcends seasons, it transcends millennia. The Olmecs, who lived in southern Mexico 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, were the first to grind peas from cocoa pods and mix it with hot water. They calling the concoction ‘xocolatl’ which means 'bitter foamy water.' Xocalotl still survives today, though usually in a sweeter and creamier form than its predecessor.
If you want a taste of the Olmecs’ drink, we found a xocalotl recipe from the Simon Fraser University Museum in Canada, calling for: bittersweet cocoa, water, vanilla, and chili pepper. We also scoured the web in search of the latest versions of this millennia-long tradition around the US. Here are five that we have on our radar: