Hot chocolate has long been highly popular in Spain, recalling a tradition dating back to the 17th century where it was served at lavish receptions called agasajos. Food historian Maricel Presilla kindly shared with us her version of this decadent drink.
1⁄2 gallon milk
1⁄4 oz. dried rosebuds or 2 tsp. rosewater
1 tsp. saffron threads, lightly crushed
3 sticks cinnamon
2 whole dried arbol or penquin chiles
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 lb. bittersweet chocolate
1. Combine milk, dried rosebuds (or rosewater), saffron threads, cinnamon sticks, chiles, vanilla bean, and sugar in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat.
2. Scald milk, stirring to dissolve sugar, then lower heat and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat; steep 10 minutes. Strain into a large pot.
3. Heat gently, then add bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped. Whisk briskly for 5 minutes to dissolve chocolate and make a frothy head.