Hot Chocolate in a Cheesy Way

photo credit bell'alimento

We’re a week into a freakishly warm February, and your wall calendar or planner (hope you read the Go Girl Gift Guide!) indicates that Valentine’s Day is around the corner.  Currently being single, I have accordingly made Valentine’s cards for elderly New Yorkers, read about radical vulnerability (thank you VICE magazine) while sitting cozily by the wood stove next to my cat, and felt authorized to formulate Valentine’s Day advice for others.  With all that said, I will authoritatively tell you that nothing says romance like cheese (You think the recent solar flare displaced cheese state particles into the Windy City or is this legitimately true?).

Cheese and chocolate truly are a FANTASTIC combination.  I was first introduced to hot chocolate with cheese in Ecuador, at a posh little dessert restaurant in the gringo district within Quito.  At this restaurant, a mug of hot chocolate is served with several cubes of cheese on the saucer. The cheese is placed into the mug of hot chocolate and subsequently becomes melty and mmmm.

Tena, Ecuador, where the cacao trees grow

Ecuadorian chocolate holds a special claim to fame in my fame claim book.  Nowhere else have I been handed fresh cacao (cough cough: Portlandia!) pulp to taste from a cacao pod whacked off of the tree by a woman with a machete and an uncle who was a shaman.

For your own shamanistic chocolate and cheese experience, you can drive to Wisconsin and pick up a little somethin’ somethin’ just across the Illinois border.  The romance level will definitely be off the chart when you go chocolate CHEESE fudge shopping at the Mars Cheese Castle.  Yes, castle as in fairy tale/disney/proper homage to cheese.  In Chicago you can also  buy chocolate fudge made with cheese.  It sits in the fancy cheese section of the grocery store (obvi!), and the friendly cheese woman at my local Dominick’s will gladly slice and wrap whatever quantity you desire. Be cautious. Be aware of its irresistible perfection. This New York cheddar cheese fudge is so paramount that it gets its own category on the Herkimer County Cheese product website.  It’s categorized as “unique”…in a good way!

Or you could stir up a pot of homemade hot chocolate on the  wood stove or stove top and toss a couple cubes of cheddar in there yourself. I recommend using goat milk  with your favorite hot chocolate mix and adding a little extra cocoa powder.

Juliet Tarantino
Ever since a summer trip to Girl Scout camp in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York when she was a young lass, Juliet’s been furthering her experiences away from home. Her travel includes social justice awareness trips to Nicaragua, rubbing shoulders and sharing a drawing class with indigenous Quichua people while studying abroad in Ecuador, bike riding through vineyards in Argentina, developing that signature lisp while teaching English in Spain, as well as wining, dining, and beaching in Italy and Portugal. A gourmet of enjoying life, Juliet has been acculturating to Chicago, and the many nations that call its ethnic neighborhoods home, for the past two years, where she is now lucky enough to work with refugees and immigrants and translate documents from Spanish to English on the side. She also delights in cooking in her apartment which used to be a milk factory, listening to public radio, attending art and music shows, and embroidering. She’s interested in languages, fair trade and visual anthropology.

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    1. For someone who adores both of these two items separately, thank you for prompting me to try them together!

    2. I hope you enjoy it, Samantha! Thanks for being sufficiently adventurous to try the combo!

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