Varieties of hot chocolate in Latin America

Cultural Insights — By on February 25, 2009 at 8:08 pm

This is the time of year that people’s thoughts turn to steaming mugs of hot chocolate during chilly evenings at home. So I was pleased to stumble across this story about the history of hot chocolate in Latin America. This region is arguably the home of hot chocolate, which was once sipped in a more bitter form by the ancient Mayans.

 Today, each region or country has its own twist on the sweet beverage:

In many parts of the world hot chocolate is blended with boiling water, but in Latin American warm milk is used, making it just that much more creamy and smooth (if also fattening) in consistency. While still retaining its power as a special drink, Latin Americans typically sip hot chocolate after dinner or as a treat…

It is also common for different countries to give the drink a special twist. In Colombia and Ecuador for example, it is common to have chocolate caliente con queso, essentially hot chocolate with a slab of fresh cheese, on the top and left to melt. It might sound bizarre but the salty flavor of the cheese mixes perfectly with the sweet chocolate flavor. Possibly an acquired taste, but most who try it are pleasantly surprised. Peruvians tend to put in a little extra chocolate syrup to their warm chocolate milk, the enhanced sweetness making it a dessert, but a very good one at that.

In Argentina, hot chocolate is served up in many fashions, the most popular being the submarino, consisting of steamed milk in a mug with a chocolate bar on the side. The bar should be submerged into the milk and will quickly disappear, melting into the liquid. A quick stir and a dash of sugar make it extra creamy, but the best part is that it tastes, and is, freshly made.  

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