“Do you want coffee or hot chocolate?”, asked my sweet friend the other day.
My friend and I had been invited to her home for a “cafecito” and we eagerly responded almost in unison: “Hot chocolate.”
This, ladies and gents, is no Swiss Miss, no packet plus water business, no corn syrupy sweet powder. THIS, my friends is the real deal.
She grated pure cacao (pictured below), mixed it with milk, cinnamon and whatever other secret spices she had on hand and a little bit of baking chocolate, stirred till it melded together and the result was a gentle, barely sweet creamy homemade hot chocolate!
Here in Ecuador Hot Chocolate is very much a part of the culinary culture. Ambato, a town a few hours away from Quito is renowned for the chocolate bars it produces, which are sold to make HC. I have heard that many families have mugs of the steaming stuff for breakfast. It seems like each housewife has her own special recipe. The following week, for instance, at another kitchen table I sat and sipped HC that had been thickened with corn starch, which is one of my favorite versions. Another common way it is served is with chunks of fresh white cheese hiding on the bottom of the mug, melting every so slightly and adding some extra richness to the experience. Kind of like marshmallows, only cheese! (I’m also a big fan of this version)
How do you like your hot cocoa?