Sunday, February 28, 2010

Colombian-style Hot Chocolate

Colombian-style Hot Chocolate

While my part-time weekend job in a chocolate shop is not always as idyllic as it might sound, it certainly has its moments. One recent evening a couple came in asking to see the owner--not usually a good sign. When I explained that she was out for the day, they were crestfallen. Turns out that they had driven in from the far side of town just to bring her, out of the blue, a big block of cheese.

The backstory: they had attended one of the tasting events our shop does for a local business and heard about our range of drinking chocolate. The woman, who grew up in Colombia, decided that we needed to experience drinking chocolate done Colombian-style, which involves soaking a piece of fresh, lightly salted cheese in the cup, then eating it when it's warm and soft and saturated with chocolate.

This generous pair of chocolate evangelists searched the Latino markets for a queso fresco that would best approximate the kind used in Colombia, then schlepped it all the way to our shop. Finding that the boss wasn't in, they left us the entire block of cheese (!) and some verbal instructions.

I finally had time to fix myself a cup today. Keeping to the theme of the experiment, I used a single-origin Santander chocolate from Colombia for the drink. Then I dropped in a cube of cheese and started sipping. As I drank, I couldn't detect any cheesy flavor, but when I got to the bottom there it was: still cube-shaped but soft around the edges, pale ivory mottled with brown blotches like some alien sweetbread.

Since I'm about to start an elimination diet that will exclude all of the components of this treat (dairy, chocolate, and sugar--among many other things), I was sort of hoping it would turn me off chocolate for a while. No such luck. The cheese was a little rubbery and squeaked against my teeth (which, as my fellow former eraser chewers will agree, is a rather pleasant sensation), and then the fattiness melted across my tongue and released alternating ripples of salty chocolate and sweet cheese.

I can't believe I'm going to have to wait at least a month before I try Colombian drinking chocolate again!

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