Object: Chocolate whisk

Chocolate whisk (Molinillo)
Tlacolulu, Oaxaca, Mexico
ca. 1978
Materials: Wood

This object is a chocolate whisk, sometimes called a molinillo. Whisks like this one are used to make chocolate foam, a Mexican specialty, used in many traditional drinks and recipes. Chocolate is made from cacao, a type of seed found in fruit produced by Theobroma Cacao trees, and is native to Mexico and Central America. Making chocolate from the cacao seeds is a long and involved process. The seeds must be fermented and then dried, roasted, shelled, ground, and pressed before it can be mixed with milk and sugar to form the candy we all know and love. However, prior to European contact, chocolate was traditionally served as a drink and was not sweetened like most modern chocolates. In fact it isn’t uncommon in traditional Mexican cuisine to find recipes that use chili’s along with chocolate. Chocolate whisks like this one were invented by the Spaniard colonists in Mexico around the 1700’s.  Prior to the invention of the molinillo, chocolate froth was made by pouring the drink back-and-forth from one cup to another.  The whisks are used in a single container with the handle extending out of the top. The handle is rotated by rubbing it rapidly between the user’s hands.

The following video shows how chocolate whisks are used.

[Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]

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Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.


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