SPANISH CHOCOLATE CALIENTE (for four)
When chocolate was first introduced in Europe after the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, some of the original taste of Mesoamerican chocolate was maintained by using similar spices. Note the presence of traditional Aztec flavorings – chile pepper and vanilla bean — in this Spanish recipe from Paul Richardson.
4 cups whole milk
½ teaspoon saffron threads, lightly crushed
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
1 whole dried arbol chile or pequin chile
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
¼ cup sugar
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1. Combine the milk, saffron threads, cinnamon stick(s), chile, vanilla bean and sugar in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep for 10 minutes.
2. Strain into a large pot, discarding solids. Heat again gently, then add the bittersweet chocolate. Whisk briskly for 5 minutes to dissolve the chocolate and make a frothy head. Serve at once.
from Paul Richardson, Rustic Spanish