Hot chocolate, also known as hot cocoa, drinking chocolate or just cocoa is a heated beverage consisting of shaved chocolate, melted chocolate or cocoa powder, heated milk or water, and often sugar. Hot chocolate made with melted chocolate is sometimes called drinking chocolate, characterized by less sweetness and a thicker consistency.
The first chocolate beverage is believed to have been created by the Aztecs around 2,000 years ago, and a cocoa beverage was an essential part of Aztec culture by 1400 AD. The beverage became popular in Europe after being introduced from Mexico in the New World and has undergone multiple changes since then. Until the 19th century, hot chocolate was even used medicinally to treat ailments such as liver and stomach diseases. Today, hot chocolate is consumed throughout the world and comes in multiple variations, including the spiced chocolate para mesa of Latin America, the very thick cioccolata densa served in Italy and chocolate a la taza served in Spain, and the thinner hot cocoa consumed in the United States.