Mapperton House, now the family seat of the 11th Earl of Sandwich, opens its doors to visitors on Easter Sunday.
And chocolate lovers have reason to thank the 1st Earl of Sandwich for introducing the 17th century’s fashionable treat that could have led to today’s chocolate Easter eggs, via the choc-ice!
Almost a century before the 4th Earl, his great-great grandson, “invented” the sandwich, Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, was busy recording recipes for chocolate, then an exotic substance which was drunk, not eaten, often as a medical remedy.
And his 350-year-old journal containing what may be the very first recipes for iced chocolate desserts in England* will be visible during the guided tours of the Tudor/Jacobean mansion at Mapperton.
John Montagu, the 11th Earl of Sandwich, has made a particular study of not only the history of the sandwich, but also of his earlier ancestor’s fascination with “chocolatti.”
Dr Kate Loveman of the University of Leicester has also researched the illustrated manuscript, dating from 1668, which details a number of recipes, including King Charles II’s prized formula for spiced and perfumed chocolate cake, which Sandwich reported cost the king a staggering £200.
Lord Sandwich says: “The story of chocolate is a fascinating one.
“The 1st Earl of Sandwich had been ambassador to Spain and it was the Spanish who had previously held a monopoly over the trade in chocolate.
“The Restoration was an age of entertainment and leisure, of theatre and music and conspicuous consumption.
“We were learning a lot from Europe and chocolate houses were highly fashionable.”
The 1st Earl’s recipe involves putting a container of liquid chocolate into a flask of snow and salt, and shaking it until it starts to turn solid.
However, the 1st Earl advised those wary of such a strange cold concoction to make sure they drank a hot chocolate afterwards!
“It seems my ancestor was certainly one of those well-connected people who was introducing chocolate, and exceptionally, chocolate “ice cream” to England,” added Lord Sandwich.
“I am happy to tell the story, because I am certainly a chocolate drinker myself, as long as it is Fairtrade!”
The 1st Earl’s recipe for iced chocolate:
“Prepare ye Chocolatti…and Then Putt ye vessel that hath ye Chocolatti in it into a Jarraffa (carafe) of snow stirred together with some salt, & shaike ye snow together sometyme & it will putt ye Chocolatti into tender Curdled Ice & soe eate it with spoons, and eat also Naples Biskett alonge with it. This way is much used for pleasure in ye heate of summer, but is held unwholesome & one is oblidged for better security to Drinke Hott Chocolatti in ¼ of an houre after.”
Admiral Edward Montagu, who had been one of Oliver Cromwell’s staunch supporters, was awarded the title “Earl of Sandwich” in 1660, when he brought King Charles II back to England from exile abroad.