Chocolate's Birth in Firenze

by Ippolita Douglas Scotti:

Francesco d'Antonio Carletti was a young Florentine merchant and traveler in the 17th century and is widely considered responsible for the diffusion of chocolate in Italy. Traveling to South America, Carletti found the cocoa, documented its processing, and then brought its seeds to Florence. Thanks to him, cocoa from the plant Theobroma cacao ("food of the gods") arrived in Tuscany.



In 1606, chocolate was produced in Italy—first in Florence, then in Venice and Turin.


A testimony of the ancient link between Florence and chocolate is found in an old book at the National Library of Florence that includes a passionate work on chocolate written by scientists.








Cosimo III de' Medici was known to offer a cup of the new delicious drink—hot chocolate—to foreign diplomats. He had commissioned the recipe from scientist Francesco Redi, an odorist and superintendent of the "Spezieria" (spicery), Grand Ducal Foundry, and Spicery of Boboli.

Redi realized an exclusive recipe: a chocolate infused with jasmine that grew in the Boboli Gardens, the Medici's private park.


In the Boboli Gardens, the Grand Duke's gardeners also made new genetic experiments to create many oddities, such as the famous and extravagant cedar-orange in 1640, which produced cedars, lemons, and oranges from the same plant through grafts.


But, the most appreciated experiment was the secret recipe of jasmine chocolate. The jasmine chocolate preparation described in a recipe that lists doses, ingredients, and procedures was jealously kept in the foundry safe.




Here is an excellent recipe for classic Florentine hot chocolate from a lovely website, The Florentine:


Hot chocolate, Tuscan-style


Traditional cioccolata calda with cream

4 ounces of good-quality dark chocolate (70% or higher, personally I prefer 85%)

1½ cups (250ml) whole milk

1 tbsp cream

2 tsp sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch


Add your milk and cream to a pot over medium heat; let it get warm, but do not bring to a boil. Add the chocolate and sugar and mix until melted and smooth. Add the cornstarch and continue to mix. Stir until everything is smooth and creamy. Pour into mugs and serve with a dollop of home-made whipped cream (below).


Whipped cream

1 cup (250ml) cream

1 tsp vanilla extract


Add the cream and vanilla extract to a small bowl and whisk with an electric beater until it looks like whipped cream!


Nutella cioccolata calda

4 ounces of good-quality semisweet chocolate

3 tbsp Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut cream

1½ cups (375ml) whole milk

1 tbsp cream

2 tsp sugar

2 tbsp cornstarch


Add your milk and cream to a pot over medium heat; let it get warm, but do not bring to a boil. Add the chocolate, Nutella, and sugar and mix until melted and smooth. Add the cornstarch and continue to mix. Stir until everything is smooth and creamy. Pour into mugs and serve with a dollop of homemade whipped cream (above).

12 views