Spanish Hot Chocolate

Spanish Hot Chocolate

“I’m only dunking this churro because I can’t fit my whole head in it.”

Research for our first trip to Barcelona included watching every TV show on Spain we could get our eyes on, including a favorite of ours, “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” from PBS (available on Netflix in the U.S.). Phil Rosenthal is so much fun!

Phil’s review of the hot chocolate in Spain (and the quote above) made us eager to explore this lovely treat, to learn more about it, and of course – to taste it!

While we didn’t make it to the specific cafe he visited, we were able to experience Spanish hot chocolate a few times, in different places, and to learn a lot more about it.

Breakfast

We first experienced the creamy goodness that is Spanish chocolate at Chocolateria La Nena on our food tour with Devour Barcelona. (Check out everything we tasted on that tour in this post at 52 Perfect Days.)

Spanish hot chocolate is thick and creamy, and La Nena tops it with lovely fresh cream and pairs it with melindro (cakes similar to lady fingers) and churro (sweet fried dough) for dipping. The chocolate is thick enough to coat the treats when you dip, but thin enough to drink.

Chocolate and churros is a popular breakfast here, especially for those out in the wee hours of the morning after leaving the clubs at 5 or 6. I think I prefer that to the pancakes my friends and I sought out in college!

History

The earliest cultivation of cacao can be traced to ancient Mesoamerica. As legend has it, when Christopher Columbus brought the substance that would come to be known as chocolate back to Queen Isabella of Spain, she didn’t like what she tasted. Of course, it did eventually catch on, and people set about working to make it taste less bitter.

Experimenting with chocolate led to the preparation of a thick, hot drink, and as the years passed, the recipe became increasingly standard – and sweet! The chocolate to sugar ratio is typically about 1:2

Chocolate was trendy to drink in large cups at Spanish bullfights, and chocolate houses (similar to coffee shops) became popular across Europe. It was enjoyed with near religious devotion in Spain, as evidenced by 18th-century writer Marco Antonio Orellana popular words:

Oh, divine chocolate!

kneeling they grind you,

hands folded they whisk you,

and eyes to heaven they drink you.

Making Your Own

To purchase Spanish hot chocolate in a store, look for chocolate a la taza – it comes in a bar, powder, and concentrate, most of which call for adding milk while cooking on the stove and stirring until thick.

For a simple made-from-scratch recipe, try this post from Oh, The Things We’ll Make.

I have also seen recipes that call for cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg, if you prefer, like this one at The Spruce.

The Verdict

And the verdict, now that we have indulged across the country? Spain has definitely ruined me for hot chocolate. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to stir powdered cocoa into hot water again!

Comments

  1. Yumm! Reading about hot chocolate has me craving some for myself now. I cant go to Spain, but I can go to my kitchen to prepare myself a cuppa!

  2. I have plans to go to Spain soon.. and this is one thing I have put in my list… will surely try this… thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. Oh yum! I went to Barcelona last year and had hot chocolate there. It was so rich and decadent!

  4. I must try this. Looks inviting and delicious.

  5. This sounds incredible. I’ve been dreaming about hot chocolate lately.

  6. Sounds delicious! Now I’m craving me a mug of this!

  7. This looks amazing. My brother in law lived in Spain for years. I wonder if he could whip this up for us.

  8. Kim

    It looks super yummy and love that you call it devourcelona haha.

  9. I spent Christmas in Spain and now I realize I did not have enough of their hot chocolate. I have to look for the this is the grocery store to try your recipe!

  10. I absolutely love how you implemented history into such a tasty recipe. Will definitely be trying on cold nights!

  11. Clair

    This sounds so delicious! I am a lover of hot chocolate and know I would love this one! Going to look in my local stores for it!

  12. I was just in Barcelona for my spring break and I loved it! I found a little cafe with Spanish hot chocolate and it was sooooo good we went back twice during our trip!

  13. Oh gosh I’m really craving Spanish Hot Chocolate now! This looks way too good!

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