Thursday, April 29, 2010
How I'm Coping with My Rainy Day: Two For One Special
Left: Chocolate Caliente and the rain that inspired it.
Please read my post below before you read this one... this is just a quick update!
I live in the coffee region of Colombia, therefore, I drink coffee in the mornings, and so do all my co-workers. The only "hot drink" variation I ever see is agua panela (which I can post about another time) and sometimes, just sometimes, the health conscious at school drink hot tea. Kids might drink hot milo (kind of like Nesquik or Ovaltine), but primarily my fellow Risaraldans drink coffee. And lots of it.
In various other regions of Colombia, coffee is second in popularity to chocolate caliente (hot chocolate). Not the typical, sweet Swiss Miss-style we drink in the United States, but pure melted chocolate, mixed in water or milk, with a tiny bit of sugar. It's dry and bitter, but just as popular as coffee, especially among working-class men. (Nothing like a cup of cocoa before heading out to build a new apartment or drive a bus!)
By a chance accident (I needed chocolate, Warren doesn't understand the words "unsweetened") we had a package of Luker brand chocolate at the apartment. On this cold, rainy day, I decided there wasn't much that I would enjoy more than a cup of hot chocolate. So, I did my best.
It wasn't as sweet or smooth as my hot chocolate at home, but it definitely warmed me up and gave me a happy dose of endorphins.
Below: Chocolate Caliente
I've included two recipes below, one from the Luker package itself (with my notes about how I prepared it) and one from my cookbook Secrets of Colombian Cooking (by Patricia McCausland-Gallo), which was a Christmas present from my brother Billy.
Luker Recipe for Chocolate Caliente
Unsweetened chocolate (should be pure: only 100% cocoa mass)
Agua Panela (if you are Colombian) or water
Sugar (probably 1/2 tablespoon per cup)
Unsweetened soy milk if you're vegan, regular milk if you aren't as cool as me (just kidding)
In a saucepan, warm up water or agua panela (1/2 cup for each cup you want to make). Add a square (7.8 grams) for each cup you want to make. Stir until melted. Add a tablespoon of sugar for each cup you want to make. Stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup of milk for each final cup you want. Beat with a whisk (the Luker package suggests putting it into a blender to make it frothy, but that seemed totally unnecessary.) Warm thoroughly and then serve. Don't let this boil, ever. Also, stir often so it doesn't burn/stick on the bottom of the saucepan.
My additions: I added a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of vanilla, and extra chocolate squares. I then tasted it and added sugar until it tasted less bitter. (About another teaspoon per cup.) If you are using Baker's chocolate in the U.S.A., I would estimate that 1 Luker square equals 2 Baker's rectangles.
Chocolate Caliente, from Secrets of Colombian Cooking (McCausland-Gallo, pg 208)
4 ounces sweetened table chocolate (vegans-don't use milk chocolate!)
4 cups milk or 2 cups water and 2 cups milk (sub soymilk if you are vegan)
2 tablespoons sugar
1. Place the chocolate, milk, and sugar in a pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer (but don't let it boil) for about 5-7 minutes, or until the chocolate is very soft.
2. Remove from the heat and with a whisk stir rapidly and continously until hte chocolate forms a lather or foam.
3. Serve and enjoy!