Photo by Gunnar Knechtel
Photos by Gunnar Knechtel
Eaten with churros or a spoon, warm chocolate a la taza is divine.
When I moved to Barcelona almost two decades ago, I quickly learned that going out on a weekend night meant staying out until almost morning. My girlfriend (now wife) and I might meet friends at a restaurant around 10 p.m., then go to a bar for drinks, and still, well after midnight, someone would inevitably ask, “What are you going to do tonight?” Often, by the time we headed home, after whatever adventure we had improvised, the sun was coming up, and we felt exhausted. But we made a habit of stopping in one of the cafés just opening up for the day for a sweet nightcap—churros con chocolate. Lightly crunchy and sprinkled with sugar, deep-fried churros are delectable eaten alone but are somehow incomplete. Like Fred without Ginger. Abbott without Costello. If churros are king, then chocolate a la taza is their mandatory consort. Taza means “cup,” but with a thick, creamy, almost pudding-like consistency, this chocolate isn’t so much drunk as eaten—with a small teaspoon or by dipping churros.Mexico, they found the locals drinking chocolate seasoned with such additives as hot chili pepper and ground corn. Sometime in the mid-16th century, Spaniards carried cacao beans back home and began making chocolate themselves. Heated, sweetened with cane sugar, and whisked with water until frothy, chocolate became an instant hit as a beverage. By the early 1600s, it was a favorite of the Spanish court and proved an excellent refreshment during bullfights on the cobbled Plaza Mayor in Madrid.
Recipe by Jeff Kohler
1. Bring 3 cups water (or milk) to a boil in a saucepan and remove from the heat.
2. In a small cup, dissolve the cornstarch in three tablespoons of cold water.
3. Add the chocolate pieces to the hot liquid and stir until melted.
4. Return the pan to the stove and bring to a boil over low heat.
5. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and dissolved cornstarch.
6. Reduce the heat to low and stir without stopping for three to five minutes, until the mixture thickens and dribbles heavily off the spoon.
7. Taste for sweetness, and stir in more sugar if desired.
8. Serve immediately in wide-mouth teacups for dipping churros, muffins, or cookies.
Learn four ways to taste chocolate a la taza in Spain here.
This article originally appeared online in April 2014; it was updated in December 2017 to include current information.
>>Next: The Surprising Reason Spain Does Big, Long Lunches
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