You may know that February is the month of lovers but did you know that it’s also the month of chocolate lovers? SweetMeets has shared several chocolatey recipes this month but this fudgy crockpot brownie is by far the chocolatiest. Cocoa powder, chocolate chips and Nutella make for a strong chocolate base but I didn’t stop there… Dulche de leche, marshmallow fluff and pecans pile on top for a huge mess of chocolate dessert love. Read on for this and other chocolate recipes, as well as a brief history of chocolate.
It is believed that the word ‘chocolate’ comes from the Aztec ‘xocolātl,‘ which combined the words for ‘bitter’ and ‘water’ or ‘drink.’ Chocolate was originally prepared as a ceremonial beverage by the Mayans as early as 400 AD. It was not like the hot chocolate drinks served to day but rather a frothy, bitter drink made directly from cacao seeds. By the 15th century, the Aztecs were running much of Mesoamerica and had adopted cacao. Quetzalcoatl, one of their gods, was cast out by the other gods for sharing chocolate with humans. The Aztecs also drew similarities between removing cacao seeds from their pod and the removal of the human heart during ritual sacrifice. While the Mayans prefered their chocolate warm, the Aztecs drank it cold and flavored it with additives like chile, vanilla, allspice and honey. Because the Aztecs could not grow cacao in their native Mexican highlands, they claimed it as tribute from those they ruled.In fact, cocoa beans were often used as currency in their society. Anyone who has ever eaten chocolate will understand why.
Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes was most likely the first European to encounter the chocolate drink of the Mesoamericans during a dinner party (best dinner party ever) with Montezuma. Christopher Columbus was the first to bring cacao beans back with him to Spain after stealing finding them from some natives in 1502. It was not very popular until some Spanish friars introduced a sweetened version to the royal court. Sugar, honey and vanilla were the preferred additives of the Spanish. Sometimes other spices would be added to amp up the vanilla flavor but the weak stomachs of the Europeans had some trouble handling it. Those Mesoamericans got the last laugh after all. By 1602, chocolate had made its way to Austria and by the 1700s it had established a foothold throughout Europe. As the English, Dutch and French continued to colonize the New World, cacao plantations spread to answer the high European demand for chocolate. These plantations were originally worked by Mesoamerican slaves but they were later replaced with African slaves and low wage laborers.
Chocolate production really hit its stride in the early 1800s. In 1828, Dutch chemist Coenraad van Houten created a press to remove half of the natural fat from chocolate liquor. This process made chocolate cheaper to produce and produced more consistent quality batches of chocolate. In 1847, Joseph Fry developed a process for making chocolate moldable. In 1875, Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate. In the late 19th century, a number of noteable chocolate companies started up, including Nestle, Cadbury and Hershey.
SweetMeet’s Month of Chocolate Love:
Crockpot Turtle Marshmallow Brownie
(I have a small 1.5 quart crockpot. For a regular-size 4-6 quart crockpot, double these amounts. The cook time should be about the same, 3 ½ to 4 hours.)
¾ granulated sugar
1/3 cocoa powder
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup Nutella
¼ cup dulche de leche
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup Nutella
¼ cup dulche de leche
¼ cup marshmallow fluff
3 tablespoons chopped pecans
Combine all brownie ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
Grease 1.5 quart crockpot. (This is very important for clean up!)
Spread brownie batter in bottom of crockpot.
Cook 3 ½ to 4 hours or until center is just set.
Turn off heat and allow to sit 10-20 minutes.
Run knife around edge of pot and invert onto plate. (This is a little tricky because the brownie is so fudgy. You could also spoon the brownie directly into serving bowls and split the topping for each bowl.)
Top brownie with all topping ingredients.