Recipe: Spanish Hot Chocolate

Inject a little Mediterranean sun into your winter blues with a European classic.

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I have a feeling that we’re all going to be inside drinking hot chocolate and watching the flakes fall this weekend. With that in mind, here’s a recipe for the best hot chocolate, I would argue, that you can make.

It’s from Spain, the land that, after a few atrocities, brought back cacoa beans from the New World and had the genius idea to add sugar to the drink that was made from them. According to Smithsonian.com, “Legend has it that the Aztec king Montezuma welcomed the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes with a banquet that included drinking chocolate, having tragically mistaken him for a reincarnated deity instead of a conquering invader.”

Spanish hot chocolate is so thick that you can practically stand a spoon up in it. This isn’t because of an excess of chocolate, as many believe, but to the addition of a small amount of rice flour. If you don’t have any handy, cornstarch can be substituted. I like to add the kick of a pinch of cayenne — although this is common in Mexico, most Spaniards would be horrified.

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Spanish Hot Chocolate
(makes 2 servings)

Ingredients:
2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon rice flour
3 ounces chopped dark chocolate (I prefer Callebaut, but buy the best quality you can find)
4-6 tablespoons of sugar (the amount depends on how dark your chocolate is)
1 pinch kosher salt
Variation: a pinch of cayenne

Directions:
Add rice flour to a medium saucepan and whisk together with 1/4 cup of milk. Turn the burner on medium-low and add the rest of the milk, whisking briskly. Once you start to see tiny bubbles forming on top of the milk, add the chocolate, whisking all the while to melt it. Add the optional cayenne and stir thoroughly. Pour the hot chocolate into two mugs and let stand for a minute or so to thicken properly.

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