My Peruvian Hot Chocolate is rich and creamy with hints of cinnamon and cloves. Traditionally served with a slice of Panettone. Funny story included!
Peruvian Hot Chocolate is the one thing that we have never gone without at Christmas. This is a big deal in my family. First, we would prepare a huge, delicious feast with Peruvian dishes which now also included meat and potatoes that Dad introduced when coming into the family.
We would spend the day cooking then everyone would take a nap because Peruvian tradition is celebrating at midnight. Around 6 o’clock, we started setting up. The table was set, appetizers were being prepared, we would get dressed up, and then we would welcome all the family that would share the celebration with us.
After the meal, my Mom and my Tía Renee would start to make this Peruvian hot chocolate. It was the same routine every single year. My mom would take out the biggest pot she had. Tía Renee would get the chocolate she brought from Peru. It was this delicious chocolate enhanced with spices of cinnamon and cloves. It brings back the memory of the only Christmas we celebrated in Peru with my grandmother, Mama Maria, and my great-grandmother, Mama Manuela, along with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins that I got to meet for the first time. That was something. We spent three weeks in Peru during the holidays and it was such a special experience. So grateful to have shared it with my family.
Ok, back to the routine…Mom and Tía Renee would get the ingredients for the hot chocolate. Big pot, water, Peruvian chocolate, evaporated milk, cinnamon sticks, and sugar. My mom would stir the chocolate in the water. Then she would add the sugar and cinnamon sticks. She would stir until the chocolate melted and then she would boil it. After boiling and stirring, she would remove from heat then add the milk.
Mom: “Renee, taste this. What does it need? More milk? More sugar?”
Tía Renee: “More sugar.”
Mom: “I think it needs more milk not sugar.”
Tía Renee: “Well if you aren’t going to listen to me then why do you ask me?
Mom: “You like everything too sweet.”
Tía Renee: “Nooooo, you just don’t know how it is supposed to be.”
Mom: “Natalie! Come here and tell me what this needs. Tía Renee says more sugar but she always says that because she likes everything too sweet.”
And so the dance continued until finally I said it was perfect and then she would bring it to the table after the feast along with the sliced Panettone. Everyone would serve themselves a ladle of hot chocolate and grab a piece of that delicious Italian sweet bread. It is quite comical to see my Mom and Tía Renee in the kitchen. Every… Single… Year… the same dialogue. I love it.
I asked why they just didn’t write it down so it would come out the same without any argument.
Mom and Tía Renee: “Ahhh, come on, Natalie! We don’t need to write things down! We know how to do it! Just taste and do it.” Hahahaha. I love it. It did come out perfect every single time.
This hot chocolate is so good. Whenever someone new came to my Mom’s annual Christmas Eve open house, they would try the hot chocolate and exclaim how it was so delicious. Then both my Mom and Tía Renee would smile taking credit. I’m laughing as I write because the memory is so special to me. I love how the family is so competitive with cooking. Both the Italians and the Peruvians!
I wanted hot chocolate one night with my family. It was just a cold night and hot chocolate sounded amazing. I didn’t have that special Peruvian chocolate that Tía Renee brings from Peru. Necessity is the mother of invention. I created my own version of Peruvian chocolate. I didn’t have the blocks of chocolate but I did have cocoa powder. The Peruvian chocolate had hints of cloves and cinnamon so I grabbed my spices and added just a touch of salt to bring out the flavor. I couldn’t believe it. I was able to replicate that wonderful memory.
I have to disclose that I am not a fan of it being too sweet so I add just enough sugar. If you are like my Tía Renee, you might want to add more.
I have to write another little tidbit about this hot chocolate. When my husband, Bill, and I were first going out we spent our first Christmas Eve together as a couple at my Mom’s open house. My whole family was there. The men in my family are a bunch of jokers. I mean, they are nice and loving but if you are new coming into the family, you will have to go through this initiation of sorts. I knew they were thinking of something to say to this blond, Scottish, French Canadian, and other bloodlines I keep forgetting.
Bill made it too easy for them…
Picture this: a table FULL of delicious food. There were mashed potatoes, roast beef, gravy, saltado, rice, and so many other delicious treats. My then boyfriend, Bill, who my uncles called Bob just to bother him, filled up his plate like he hasn’t eaten in a week. I was a little embarrassed at his glutenous nature. This particular Christmas Eve, my Mom decided to put the hot chocolate out along with the food. So, everyone is watching Bill fill up his plate. He was oohing and ahhing at the food. Then he grabbed the ladle in the big bowl of the hot chocolate and carefully poured it all over his food – obviously thinking it was gravy. I almost DIED. Everyone got quiet and watched him. No one said anything. It was too late anyways. He sat down and smiled at everyone and took a big bite. You could see the expression of his face turn from a smile to confusion as if he was thinking ‘what the heck is this?‘ Still, no one said anything. At this point Bill knew what he had done but didn’t say anything. He didn’t want anyone to notice. Of course we all saw it happening.
Tío Joe: “Hey Bob, how’s that gravy?”
Bill: “It’s Bill. Ummm good.”
Tío Victor: “Hey Bob, you like?”
Bill: “Yes, very good.”
Me, thinking…”What a dope.“
My sweet grandmother, Mama Maria: “¿Que está haciendo este tonto? ¿No se da cuenta que hechó chocolate caliente en su comida?”
Translation: “What is this fool doing? Doesn’t he realize he poured hot chocolate on top of his food?”
My Dad – the English, Irish, Scottish, Frenchman – just stood there shaking his head because he felt bad for poor Bob – I mean Bill.
My gosh! I am dying laughing as I write this. Sometimes my Tío Joe still calls him Bob!
To this day, 27 years later, every Christmas Eve when we are at Mom’s open house and Bill fills his plate with food, everyone still asks if he wants to pour hot chocolate over his food. Silly Bob.
Try this hot chocolate and think of this story. I hope they both put a smile on your face!
Peruvian hot chocolate is traditionally served without a topping needing nothing except a slice of Panettone.
Note: I want to thank my Mom, Tío Joe, and Tío Alberto along with my cousin, Marco for making sure I translated correctly. What’s funny is that they all disagreed on how it should be translated! I LOVE my family! They are so passionate and funny!
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ - ⅔ cup sugar - or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 2” stick
- 3 cups water
- 2 (12 ounce) cans evaporated milk
- Whisk dry ingredients together in medium saucepan then slowly whisk in water.
- Place saucepan over medium high heat and continue to whisk until cocoa and sugar are dissolved.
- Bring to a soft boil.
- Slowly whisk in milk and reheat gently.
- Serve hot with a slice of Panettone.
- ¡Al Ataque!