Hot chocolate. Perfect for cold weather. Many people add things such as peppermint or marshmallows to their hot chocolate. To be totally transparent, I grew up in Colombia drinking hot chocolate only one way, and it wasn’t with peppermint or marshmallows.

It will sound surprising to you but hear me out (or, in this case, read the entire blog post before knocking it down). Us Colombians like to drink our hot chocolate with (drum roll pause) … cheese! I can almost picture your face of confusion, and that’s okay; I’m used to it after telling so many of my American and European friends. Now, let’s dive into it. 

There is a saying in Colombia: “Chocolate sin queso es como amor sin beso”. It translates into “Chocolate without cheese is like love without a kiss.” For us, it’s something that goes hand in hand, like Peanut Butter and Jelly or Turkey and Gravy.

I grew up thinking everyone did the same throughout the world until I started traveling and realized it’s something we Colombians do. 

When do Colombians drink hot chocolate?

Colombians love hot chocolate. It’s a staple primarily for breakfast; however, in colder regions like Bogotá, you may have it for a snack (onces), or anytime you need to drink something warm. Generally it is served with an arepa or almojábanas

What kind of hot chocolate do Colombians use?

Colombian chocolate comes in very dark chocolate bars and has generally been pre-flavored with cinnamon and cloves. We typically buy a brand called Chocolate Corona. 

How do you make Colombian hot chocolate?

Colombian hot chocolate is made on a chocolatera which is like a metal jug you can put on the stove. First, milk is added to the chocolatera, and as it starts boiling, you start breaking bars off your Corona Chocolate and adding them into the boiling milk. Then, as the chocolate melts, the mixture is mixed with a tool called a molinillo. 

How do you add cheese to your Colombian hot chocolate?

Traditionally after your hot chocolate is served in a mug, we take a piece of cheese and cut it into chunks (either with a knife or with your bare hands). These chunks of cheese are added to the hot chocolate. They sink to the bottom and become gooey. Then, you would use a teaspoon to eat/drink your chocolate. With the spoon, you fish the melted chunks of cheese and enjoy a spoonful of hot chocolate and cheese. 

What kind of cheese do you put in Colombian hot chocolate?

Ideally, you want to use Queso campesino or Queso Doble Crema. Here in the United States, if you live in an area with a lot of Hispanics, you may find it in small Latin Markets or even the supermarket. If I am in a pinch here in the U.S., I may also use Queso fresco, or mozzarella sticks cut up into chunks.  

Sugar and salt have always complemented each other. As a Pastry Chef student (yes, you read that right. I am almost done with that degree), I find myself always balancing between salt and sugar, even with cookies and cakes. Salt intensifies the flavor, and sugar adds sweetness. So, the hot chocolate’s sweetness with the cheese’s saltiness is simply an explosion of flavor. 

Are there any other drinks Colombians add cheese to?

Colombians may add cheese to a traditional drink called Agua de Panela. Although the drink can be served hot or cold, the cheese will only be added to the hot version. Agua de Panela literally translates into Water of Panela. Panela is a solid form of sugar cane. When boiled in water, you can make Agua de Panela.   

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