English Food The foreign life

Spanish hot chocolate

When you are raising your family away from the place where you were raised, you have to build your own traditions. One of ours is to make Spanish hot chocolate every time it snows, which in Chicago, is quite a bit. Actually, I write this as we are getting  a Valentine’s Day snowfall.

Thin and sugary American hot cocoa will never do for a Spaniard. Our hot chocolate is thick, and dark, not so sweet and it even has a hint of bitterness. You need Spanish chocolate to make it.

That is the end result. Silky, thick, not too sweet, soul warming. Perfect after playing in the snow.
That is the end result. Silky, thick, not too sweet, soul warming. Perfect after playing in the snow.

I will always remember the birthday parties of a childhood friend, whose mom used to make hot chocolate on a wood fueled kitchen’s iron stovetop, and who always served it in this tin coffee pot. In my set of memories, it will always be the best hot chocolate I ever tasted. Since my kids won’t have a chance to taste that one, I have come up with my own version.

It is not complicated, although it requires some love and patience, since you have to cook it “a fuego lento”, Spanish for low and slow fire. And some digging. Spanish chocolate comes in bars and powder form, although I prefer the former. I bring mine from Spain every time I go, and if you visit from there in the winter, the price of room and board with us are a few bars of it. You can find it in the US. Treasure Island and World Market often carry it, as do some delicatessen stores like the gourmet shop at Binny’s, Latincity‘s market, or the little shop at Café Ibérico. Online you can find it on Amazon and La Tienda. Alternatively, you can befriend native Spaniards and convince them to bring you some when they travel there.

Normally you accompany it with something to dunk in it. We prefer plain white bread, but churros (you can find frozen ones at Trader Joe’s) and Maria cookies are popular options too.

Time: 30 minutes

That is one of my chocolates of choice, Pedro Mayo. I make sure to bring a few bars every time I go to Spain. It is dark and bitter.
That is one of my chocolates of choice, Pedro Mayo. I make sure to bring a few bars every time I go to Spain. It is dark and bitter.

Ingredients (for six servings):

 -5 cups of whole milk                                                      -20 onzas of  Spanish Chocolate a la taza. Roughly 4 onzas per cup. Onzas in Spanish refers here to the little squares in which a chocolate bar is divided). I personally mix two brands, Valor and Pedro Mayo, because the second one adds a touch of bitterness. But you can use any other brand.

 1. Pour the milk in a 2 quart pot, and turn the stove to medium.

2. Break the chocolate in pieces following the square lines, and add it to the milk.

3. Start stirring with a wooden spoon, the same way you would do with risotto. 

4. Keep stirring, for about 15 minutes, until the chocolate is bubbling. I told you it requires a bit of love.

5. Once the chocolate is bubbling, let it raise a bit, very carefully. When it’s close to overflow the pot, remove it from the heat.

6. Repeat step 5.

7. Let it rest for ten minutes. Stir again, and serve. Enjoy!

 

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