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Dining Out: Peruvian hot chocolate a favorite dessert at El Tulé in Lambertville, N.J.


Hints of cinnamon and cloves add fragrance and flavor to the cups of hot chocolate served at El Tulé restaurant in Lambertville, N.J.

The popular hot chocolate is offering stiff competition to the river town’s other favorite restaurant hot chocolate, which also is made from scratch and served at Caffé Galleria.

El Tulé began serving hot chocolate, made using bars of Peruvian chocolate, several months ago, when the weather first turned cool.

In Peru, hot chocolate is a popular Christmas tradition, usually served with a slice of panettone, the Italian cake. This is despite the fact that in December it is summertime in Peru.

Peruvian hot chocolate can be made using as many as three different types of milks as well as butter and/or brandy. At El Tulé, which serves both Mexican and Peruvian foods, it is creamy with the thickness of traditional American hot chocolate, but with more body and the subtle flavors of spices.

Here in America we have been drinking hot chocolate at least since the 1600s when it was brought here by Dutch immigrants. Records of hot chocolate being sold in the Colonies began in the 1700s, and today it is one of the most popular wintertime drinks.

It can be as simple to make as opening a paper packet, but it really is better if you make it from scratch, which only requires a few ingredients. Some recipes call for dry cocoa, while others use grated chocolate bars that are melted into hot milk with a little added sweetness.

At Caffé Galleria the hot chocolate is made from scratch and often is served with homemade marshmallows.

El Tulé has its own recipe for hot chocolate with no marshmallows required. The restaurant’s recipe is private, but if you want to make your own, this one comes from

Peruvian Hot Chocolate

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ to 2/3 cup sugar - or to taste

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 2-inch stick

3 cups water

2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk

1. Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium saucepan then slowly whisk in water.

2. Place saucepan over medium high heat and continue to whisk until cocoa and sugar are dissolved.

3. Bring to a soft boil.

4. Slowly whisk in milk and reheat gently.

5. Serve hot.