Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Spanish Hot Chocolate

I've been craving hot chocolate for the last few days. It's such a winter drink and alas, the weather here in Galway hasn't been great. This Baltic weather has made me pine for the Chocolate Museum in Barcelona. One should never, never, pay to enter the Chocolate Museum.

When mentioned, chocolate museum, for most of us the possibilities are infinite. I imagined the tiredest of scenarios, Willy Wonka's little factory. Because of my inability to think of anything other than that beauty of a factory, I was probably the most upset upon entering. Our pamphlet clearly stated that there were statues, buildings and historical figures made from chocolate. Upon inspection these things could have been made from chocolate, but not recently. They looked as if they were made from cardboard, dust and the mud Native Americans used to build their homes in the desert thousands of years ago. Dermot was enthralled by the dust, the passionless plaques and the durability of the chocolate statues and buildings behind the shiny glass. Everyone else in the one-roomed museum was trying to make the best of it. "We already paid we might as well mill around aimlessly," I imagined they were thinking. The duped moved about assessing each figure and plaque listlessly. They tried to watch the ten minute film, no one could stick it out. Too depressing.... Was it directed by Ingmar Bergman? Whoever it was, had a real knack for sucking the fun out of chocolate. One assumes this special knack was explicitly cited in the wanted adds for jobs linked with the museum. This place was an ode to Chocolate's blue period or perhaps an homage to when Woody Allen stopped being funny. Maybe the curator thought we'd all been laughing at Chocolate for too long. Didn't anyone know Chocolate had a serious side? Didn't we know Chocolate could be molded into Christopher Columbus's head? Didn't we know that Chocolate was a great material to make a diorama with.
No, we didn't.
Dermot and I shuffled out of the museum into the cafe adjacent. On the counter sat this big thing filled with thick chocolaty, gooey unctuousness. I looked at the menu board. It said hot chocolate, I put two and two together. It was the nicest hot chocolate I'd ever had. The cocoa was as dark as ganache and thick like cold pouring cream. I knew Dermot and I would be back the next day for another. It was the Chocolate I knew, the funny Woody Allen, an ode to Picasso's rose period. Frankly, a much happier chocolate. Not depressed like the stuff in the museum and not self-destructive like the Mars Bars Dermot eats. You know, the kind of chocolate that stays up all night doing shots of tequila and picks fights with dudes twice your size and hits on your girlfriend.
This cocoa was the fun stuff.

Spanish Hot Chocolate

1 cup milk or soy if you're like me

2 1/2 oz dark chocolate 70%, or 2 oz bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), broken into pieces

2 teaspoons of sugar sugar or the sweetness you prefer

plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Bring milk to the boil. Whisk in cornstarch and sugar and keep whisking until mixture thickens to desired consistency. Take the milk off the heat. Whisk in Chocolate pieces. Serve. If the mixture is a little lumpy sieve and then serve.

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