November 09, 2018 4 min read

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Authentic Spanish Hot Chocolate and Churros – a Time-Honoured Tradition

We all love a culinary treat, and deliciously thick Spanish hot chocolate could be just the ticket for getting you through these cold winter evenings. Add some yummy traditional churros, and you'll be well on track towards a tasty and comforting snack. In this blog, we'll be exploring everything you've ever wanted to know about Spanish hot chocolate and churros...as well as showing you how to whip a batch up for yourself.

What is Spanish Hot Chocolate?

Spanish hot chocolate is distinguished from the type many of us favour in Britain by both it's taste, and it's consistency. While most Brits consider hot chocolate to be an occasional treat, hot chocolate is not out of place on a Spanish breakfast table, with the consistency so thick that it's possible to stand a churro upright in the mixture, yet still thin enough to enjoy as a drink.

The richness of Spanish-style chocolate often comes as a surprise to Brits, as it's a million miles from our love of somewhat thinner chocolate drinks. This alternate take on hot chocolate has a density which could come as a particular surprise – albeit a welcome one – to those of us who have become accustomed to the distinctly less-chocolatey taste of many varieties of hot chocolate...

History of Spanish Hot Chocolate

Chocolate and chocolate-based food have been popular in Spain ever since the Spanish first 'discovered' cocoa around 500 years ago in the New World. Chocolate rapidly developed a following amongst the movers and shakers of Spanish Royalty and the Spanish court, making it fashionable, and leading to comparisons between the Spanish love of chocolate and the English love of tea.

It's impossible to really discuss culinary traditions in Spain without paying tribute to the role of chocolate – cocoa became a major import and export for Spain following the conquest of Mexico, with regular trade routes established from the 17th century onwards.

Cocoa was originally sweetened with sugar cane, though later experiments fused a combination of sweet, spicy and bitter flavours. Interestingly, the wild popularity of chocolate meant that coffee was never quite able to gain the same foothold here as it did in other European countries like Italy, France and the United Kingdom – chocolate remains the supreme drink of choice.

How to Make Spanish Hot Chocolate

To make this Spanish hot chocolate recipe and whip up your own batch of delicious creamy Spanish-style hot chocolate, you will need:

  • 2 heaped teaspoons cornflour
  • 5 generous teaspoons high-quality cocoa
  • 500ml milk
  • 120g dark chocolate, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Method:

  1. Mix the cornflour with a little fresh milk to form a light paste, heating the remainder of the milk until hot – avoid boiling. Remove the milk from the heat.
  2. Whisk the cornflour paste, the grated chocolate and the cocoa together, stirring until the chocolate has melted.
  3. Return the mixture to low heat, allowing it to thicken. Add sugar (optional) to taste.
  4. Decant into mugs and serve – with churros if you're going for a more authentic feel.

What are Churros?

These sweet snacks are ever-popular in Spain, and it's not hard to see why! A tasty street food classic made of fried dough and with the appealing taste of sugar and cinnamon, they add a little-added spice to the sweetness of the chocolate.

Churros are a very traditional dish, eaten widely not only in Spain but in the Philippines, France and the United States as a result of Spanish-speaking immigration creating a boom in demand.

How to Make Churros

Rustling up your own churros to go with your own hot chocolate is more straightforward than you might think. All you need is:

  • 250ml water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 litres oil (for frying mix) - olive or sunflower
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • Additional caster sugar to taste

Method:

  1. Mix the water, sugar, salt and vegetable oil together in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, then remove from the stove.
  2. Stir flour until you have formed a ball.
  3. Heat oil in a deep fat fryer or frying pan, set to 190c. Use a pastry bag to pipe strips of dough into the hot oil.
  4. Fry until golden brown, and drain using kitchen paper.
  5. Combine the sugar and cinnamon, rolling warm churros in the mixture and setting aside.
  6. Plate up the churros and your hot chocolate for a truly yummy combination.

Where can I buy Spanish hot chocolate?

To make your own Spanish chocolate, you need to ensure you have some high-quality cocoa and follow the recipe provided above. However, you can mimic the taste of Spanish hot chocolate by buying a high-end drinking chocolate mix such as the 1657 Artisinal Drinking Chocolate, which creates a deliciously pure flavour by combining a blend of single origin chocolate from the Columbian Republic with pure Valrhona cocoa powder.

While inspired by the historic chocolate houses of the 17th century rather than Spanish chocolate-drinking tradition, you will nonetheless achieve a similar richness without needing to start from scratch.

Can I make Spanish hot chocolate vegan?

To make your hot chocolate vegan, remove the milk from the recipe. This will create a slightly more bitter taste and alter the consistency a little – but you can always substitute the milk for a vegan alternative such as oat milk, soya milk or almond milk.

How about sugar-free Churros?

You can remove the sugar from the recipe and replace with sweetener or abstain from sweetening ingredients altogether. Removing the dark chocolate and simply using strong cocoa is another excellent way to make this tasty recipe sugar-free


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