Che bevanda delicata!
Che diletto che mi dà!
Viva pur la cioccolata
che dà gusto e sanità.
What a delicate beverage!
What joy it gives me!
God save chocolate
which is tasty and healthy!
(Carlo Goldoni, La Conversazione, 1758)
Caigo (mist) season has definitely arrived in Venice. If you are visiting and need to keep warm, you can always do what the Venetians do, drink cioccolata calda, or hot chocolate. Drinking chocolate arrived in Venice, Mexico via Spain, in the early seventeenth century and took the city—and the rest of Europe—by storm. Just over 100 years later, Carlo Goldoni, the acclaimed Venetian playwright, began one of his plays, La Conversazione, with the cast singing a song in honour of drinking chocolate!
You can find drinking chocolate all over the city, at all levels of comfort and price, from the street vendor outside the church of San Lio to Café Florian in the Piazza di San Marco. My personal favourite is found at Torrefazione Cannaregio, a long-established coffee shop on the Strada Nova, the long road linking Rialto with the train station.
Venetian hot chocolate, is not like the cocoa-flavoured milk that you sometimes get in the USA or UK, but like a glass of pure chocolate, melted in a glass. The flavour is achieved by using the highest quality chocolate you can find, and just the right amount of cornflour is added to make thicken it.
Recently, fortified with cioccolata calda from Torrefazione Cannaregio, I took a short walk along the Strada Nova to the Santa Sofia traghetto (ferry) station, where I took a gondola across the Grand Canal to the Rialto Market in order to buy the ingredients for the next recipe I am going to share with you. Find out what that is in the next post.
In the meantime, here’s how to prepare cioccolata calda at home, just like in Venice. Use the best chocolate you can find, with 70% cocoa solids: any less will not taste so good and any more will be too bitter. Grating the chocolate will help it to melt into the milk.
- 40g / 2 1/2 tablespoons cornflour
- 40g / 2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 5g / 1 teaspoon powdered cinammon
- 250g / 9 ounces dark chocolate (70%), grated
- 1 litre / 4 cups full milk
- 50g / 3 tablespoons sugar
- Sift the cornflour, cocoa powder, and cinammon together into a bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of the milk and mix together with a whisk until it forms a smooth paste without lumps.
- Put the milk, sugar, and grated chocolate into a large saucepan. Slowly heat, stirring all the time until the chocolate has melted.
- Stir in the cornflour and cocoa powder mixture.
- Slowly bring to the boil, stirring all the time and allow to boil for about two minutes until the mixture thickens.
- Serve, topped with whipped cream.