Churros are a traditional and beloved Spanish snack. They are often served with little cups of chocolaté (pronounced cho-ko-lah-tay) for dunking. There are churrerias all over Spain where you can get churros con chocolaté. However, the Spanish chocolate drink is nothing like our American hot cocoa. Spanish chocolaté is thick and when I say it’s thick, I mean thick. But it’s rich and creamy and oh-so-delicious. It’s the perfect complement to the crispy churros.
Growing up in the Philippines where the Spanish influence is very strongly visible in our food, I always had hot chocolate prepared the Spanish way. My Mom would buy these chocolate tablets or tableas as they were commonly known which were made from locally grown cacao beans. The brand we used most often was Antonio Pueo Chocolate which was founded by a Spanish immigrant and has been manufactured in the Philippines since the early 20th century. It’s easy to find here in the States but if you can’t find it, you could substitute Mexican chocolate in a pinch. Pueo chocolate tableas come in two forms – pure cacao tablets which are wrapped in gold paper, and cacao-and-milk tablets which are wrapped in white paper. I prefer to use the gold-wrapped tablets, though the white ones work just as well.
In the Philippines, traditional chocolaté (or tsokolaté) is prepared by placing chocolate tableas in a pot with some water and then setting it on the stove to boil until the chocolate dissolves. The mixture is then transferred to an iron pitcher called a tsokolatera, after which milk and sugar are added, and then it is hand-beaten with a utensil called a batidor which is like a wooden stick with a carved knob at one end. You hold the handle of the batidor between your two palms and then rub your palms together back and forth causing the batidor to spin left and right. This is the hard part. You spin and spin and spin and spin some more until you’re sure your arms are going to fall off, but as you spin the batidor, the chocolaté froths up into a creamy, thick, slightly grainy concoction that smells divine and tastes like heaven. Some people like to add ground peanuts to their chocolaté which gives it a delicious nutty flavor.
I make my chocolaté the lazy man’s way which is definitely easier on your arms than using a batidor though you still have to whisk. No getting around that. But first I pulverize the tableas until they’re crushed into small pieces because they dissolve much faster that way. I also add a little cornstarch to my mixture which helps ratchet it up to the Spanish level of thickness.
- 1 pack (7.4 ozs.) Antonio Pueo Chocolate Excellent (in the gold wrapper)
- 3 cans evaporated milk
- 1 can condensed milk (you won’t use the whole can)
- 2 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup milk or water
- Crush the chocolate tablets in a food processor or place them in a ziploc bag and pound them with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin. It is not necessary to pulverize them to a powder. Just crush them into small pieces.
- Combine crushed chocolate and evaporated milk in a heavy-bottomed pot, stirring with a wire whisk to combine.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. This can take some time so just be patient and keep whisking.
- Meanwhile, taste the mixture for sweetness. If you think it’s not sweet enough, whisk in ¼ cup condensed milk and taste again. I would start with ¼ cup and go from there. If you want it still sweeter, just add more condensed milk, little by little, till it reaches the sweetness you desire. I find that ¼ cup is plenty sweet for me, but if my daughter Bashful had her way, she’d pour the whole can of condensed milk in!
- Once chocolaté starts to boil, reduce fire to low, and whisk in cornstarch mixture.
- Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until chocolaté is thick and smooth. If the chocolaté doesn’t seem to be thickening, raise the fire a little to bring the mixture up to a boil again. Don’t forget to keep stirring so it doesn’t burn!
- Pour into demitasse cups and serve with churros. We also love it with hot pan de sal or ensaimadas. Yum!
NOTE: I have made this with both the pure cacao in the gold wrapper and the cacao with milk in the white wrapper using my same recipe. Both work fine. Even though the white-wrapped Pueo tablets already have milk in them, there’s no need to adjust the amount of evaporated milk you use. That being said, I like the pure cacao in the gold wrapper better. It has a much richer, bolder chocolate flavor.