Peruvian Drinking Chocolate

Something I have learned in Peru is that people stretch their money as far as possible to feed as many as possible. Once the money runs out, the food is stretched as far as possible to feed as many as possible.

For example, when unexpected guests show up, it is important to offer something to drink and eat. Funny how it so often happens at lunchtime!!! I always have in mind how I can extend my meals to accommodate guests. Sometimes that is by making extra rice to fill their plate a bit fuller. Sometimes that is by boiling unpeeled potatoes until they are soft then peeling the skin off; this fills up a plate as well and most here are very satisfied to eat both potatoes and rice in one meal! Sometimes I run to the corner store and buy plantains (or use up the ones lining my wall…again!) which I peel and boil until their color changes and they are soft & sweet.

This happens with some of the recipes also. I have tasted many things that I both like or dislike. But, I realize that I must work through some of the original recipes because they are often different than what people explain to me. People cook with what they have, what they can afford. So, the recipes are “watered down” and I find that by trying out some of the best chef’s recipes, I encounter more flavorful and richer tasting food.

The same thing happens at the chocolatadas around Peru. There is a simple way of making hot chocolate and watering it down (literally!) it so that all are able to participate. But there is also a way that you can make hot creamy chocolate in your own home! This is certainly not the recipe we used in the jungle, but it is one that you will enjoy in your home for years to come.

Chocolate Caliente Tres Leches /
3 Milk Peruvian Drinking Chocolate

2 cups of water
2 cinnamon sticks
100 grams of chocolate*, chopped
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
4 cups of milk
1 3/4 cup of evaporated milk
1 cup of sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of salted butter

1. Bring water and cinnamon sticks to a boil over a high flame. Boil for 15 minutes. remove the cinnamon sticks and add the 3 milks (fresh, evaporated, condensed). Stir to combine and allow to boil for 2 more minutes.

2. In a small bowl, combine chopped chocolate and cocoa powder. Remove one cup of milk mixture to the small bowl with the chocolates and stir to dissolve chocolate and cocoa powder. Return the chocolate mixture to the pot of milks. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes.

3. Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/4 cup of water (I did this in the same bowl I had made the chocolate mixture) and add to the milk mixture; stirring continuously. Add the vanilla extract and the butter. Stir and cook over low heat for 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and serve hot. (Here in Peru, this is served with Panettone bread for Christmas and New Years)

Makes enough for 6 medium mugs. Recipe from Nuestros Grandes Chefs: Teresa Izquierdo.

* This is sold in bars for making hot chocolate. You may find the same thing in an ethnic food store or section of a store. Without the original bar, choose a high quality chocolate.

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