Colombian Hot Chocolate: Just Add Cheese
Chocolate is virtually synonymous with decadence. So is cheese. Put them together and you get Chocolate Santafereño (also called Chocolate Completo), a high-calorie hybrid to rival the cronut — except nobody in Bogotá stands on line for this. It is as de rigueur as coffee.
The cheese is not mixed into the hot chocolate, but added to the top, as we would do with marshmallows. “The result is a chewy, salty sensation that heightens anticipation for the next sip of sweetness,” writes Michael Turback, author of Hot Chocolate. It is key to add the cheese right before serving the drink, which is usually consumed during breakfast. It makes for a good evening snack as well, especially when paired with an arepa or almojábana, a spongy corn and yucca cheese bun.
If you’re planning on making this at home, don’t even think about using cheddar. Chocolate Santafereño needs to be topped with mild cheese that will not dissolve under heat. Queso blanco, halloumi, and farmer’s cheese are best, though any cheese typically used for grilling will suffice.
Or you could book a ticket to Bogotá and visit La Puerta Falsa, which was established in 1816 and continues to be the city’s most popular snack shop. Their Chocolate Completo arrives neatly — on a plate with a wide-rimmed cup surrounded by almojábana, milk bread, and a wedge of white cheese — but you are encouraged to be messy. Let those torn shreds of bread float on its dense surface like shark fins. After all, you can’t deny that your arteries and waistline are its prey.
But save those concerns for home. The Colombians have an expression for this sense of something being so wonderful it is a sin: “que pecau!”