One of the world’s most popular winter dessert drinks has several iterations across cultures. From being served with fried dough to fused with zingy spices – cocoa can cater to a craving in many delicious ways. Here’s looking at a few unique hot chocolate recipes.
If there’s one ingredient that enjoys near-fervent admiration across borders, it’s chocolate. From being the star of dessert menus to holding the position of a pantry staple in kitchens – the ingredient fits right into every season, occasion, and culinary creation. That said, its most favoured form arrives in a cuppa – topped with marshmallows, whipped cream, and all things decadent. This dates back to 500 BC, when the Mayans fused ground cocoa seeds with water, cornmeal, and chilli peppers – pouring it back and forth between a cup and pot to develop a thick foam.
Then accessible primarily to the wealthy – the concoction quickly found takers. Today, there’s a world of ingredients and flavour combinations to discover. While some incorporate eggs to make things more indulgent, others experiment with cheese for a savoury spin. Each elevates the otherwise classic cocoa-milk-sugar combination. If you have an experimentative palate or are purely intrigued by the prospect of an unusual cuppa, give these hot chocolate recipes a go.
Delicious hot chocolate recipes from around the world
We’re kicking things off from where they first began. The Mayans in Mexico first crafted a cup of hot cocoa. The modern-day beverage – a national sensation often served during the chilly holiday season – is made by heating milk with Mexican chocolate (or cocoa powder), cane sugar, cloves and cinnamon. It is then thickened with flour – maize and all purpose work well! You could also experiment with orange zest, nuts, or even rum. Smooth and creamy, it’s best served with churros, pan dulce, or tamales.
Chocolate Santafereño, Colombia
Adding an unusual savoury spin to this listing – Columbia likes its cup of hot chocolate with a cheesy flavour. A popular saying goes “Chocolate sin queso es como amor sin beso,” which roughly translates to “chocolate without cheese is like love without a kiss.” The recipe calls for Colombian chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, and soft farmer’s cheese. The cheese – like mozzarella, is added to the bottom of the cup, allowing it to melt into the cocoa concoction which can then be consumed all at once. At once savoury and sweet, the creaminess of this beverage and the perfect balance of flavours make it a popular addition to a traditional breakfast spread. It also doubles up as a bedtime snack.
Chocolate A La Taza, Spain
In Spain, hot chocolate – along with the usual tostada – is a breakfast staple, served with churros. In fact, this treat is a must-try when you’re visiting the country. Come Christmas, the churros are replaced with buñuelos (Spanish doughnuts). The consistency is thick, fudge-like and eaten with a spoon or used purely to dunk. This calls for cornstarch, which is then fused with whole milk, dark chocolate, cayenne pepper, and white sugar. Not too sweet, the mixture is thickened and cooled multiple times to achieve a rich consistency. Besides sweetbreads, this pairs perfectly with fruits.
Wiener Schokolade, Austria
Vienna, the city most known for its cafes and patisseries has some of the world’s best hot chocolate. Indulgent and decadent, every sip is creamy and bursting with the intensity of chocolate. The secret ingredient? Egg yolk! The recipe involves 70 percent semisweet chocolate and 1 ¼ cups milk, which are combined on a low-medium flame for a few minutes. The egg yolk is tempered with a few tablespoons of this hot chocolate separately, before being poured into the main mixture, while being stirred continuously to prevent curdling. This is then topped with whipped cream. You could also experiment with ingredients like cinnamon, cayenne, and rum if you’re feeling fancy.
Cioccolata Calda, Italy
Italians take decadence seriously – especially when it comes to their hot chocolate. Nothing else could explain the divine thickness of the beverage, as it is served across cafes in the region. The ingredient behind this? Cornstarch. Others include milk, sugar, salt, cocoa, and dark chocolate. Best enjoyed in small quantities, you could serve this with a biscotti to truly transport yourself to European lands. To really kick things up a notch, you could add chocolate shavings and whipped cream to the mix.
Le Chocolat Chaud, France
Like Italians, the French enjoy their hot chocolate rich and creamy. However, this doesn’t involve the use of cornstarch. The typical recipe instead calls for full cream milk which is then stirred with dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa), cinnamon bars, sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, and salt. Served for breakfast – buttery croissant anyone? – This cuppa is the answer to every sweet craving. You could serve your fudge-like creation with a generous dollop of whipped cream.
Warme Chocolademelk, Netherlands
The Dutch love for all things chocolate is no secret – Hagelslag anyone? In fact, when in the Netherlands, a cup of hot chocolate is as common a sight across cafes as coffee and tea, especially come winter and fall. The recipe calls for ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips, 1 teaspoon of Dutch cocoa powder, ½ a vanilla bean, 1 ¼ cup of whole milk, and granulated sugar to taste. These are heated until combined and foamy. To add a boozy kick, a shot of brandy or rum is added, before being topped with whipped cream and ground cinnamon. You could experiment with a host of other toppings as well.
A former Spanish colony – the Philippines is the only Asian country to feature in this list. Here, the cocoa concoction is served during breakfast, alongside traditional glutinous rice treats (kakanin) and bread rolls (pandesal). It’s also made during Christmas. The hot chocolate recipe calls for tablets of pure ground roasted cacao beans – called tablea. These are then combined with hot water, muscovado sugar, and milk (or cream) using a wooden utensil called batidor, which also gives it a certain froth. There are several renditions of this recipe, which include ingredients like peanut butter, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
Chocolate Caliente, Peru
Hot chocolate in Peru arrives with a side of panettone – a sweetbread with fruits, especially during the festive season. It also typically features chocolate syrup, which is then combined with spices like cinnamon, cloves, star anise, nutmeg as well as Peruvian cocoa, cornstarch, orange peel, and sugar. The mix isn’t too sweet and the consistency is perfect for dunking. Some recipes also add carob honey and Peruvian coffee for that extra kick. Be sure to stir continuously to avoid burning.
Cafe Mocha, USA
Although not the first beverage to spring to mind when you think of the term hot chocolate, a classic caffe mocha comes quite close. In fact, it’s often referred to as espresso-infused hot chocolate. Wildly popular across cafes in the US, the recipe draws from Arabica coffee grown in Mocha, Yemen. However, the combination of chocolate-coffee as it stands today, is a product of America and a variation of the caffe latte. You’ll need one cup of brewed coffee (espresso is ideal), four tablespoons of chocolate (white, dark, or milk), and ½ cup of cream or milk. Combine the ingredients, and voila!
How to make a classic hot chocolate with cocoa powder
A cup of standard hot chocolate would need you to grab full-fat milk, sugar, and cocoa powder at the grocery store. Vanilla extract if you’re feeling fancy. The ingredients are stirred in a pot on a low flame until well combined and thick and can be served hot or cold.
Which of these are you whipping up this season?
All images: Courtesy Shutterstock
This story first appeared here