It’s that time of year again when – apart from other goodies – we also get more chocolate, at least here in Slovakia. The reason is that on 6th December Mikuláš (Slovak for St Nicholas or Santa Claus) has his day in the Slovak calendar and, by tradition, he brings packets of sweets and chocolates to children, supposing they were nice and good all through the year. In most Slovak households children clean their boots on the eve of St Nicholas’s Day, and put them up on the window sill, where Mikuláš will leave his treats overnight.
More often than not, chocolate will also adorn our Christmas trees. If you happen to be in Slovakia at this time of year, you’ll find our shops and supermarkets filled with collections of chocolate toys, figures and little ornaments packed in festive boxes. Not only are they meant to be put up on the Christmas tree as decorations, but they can be eaten as well, so we have to make sure there’s enough trinkets up there to avoid the Christmas tree going naked 😉
For people like me though, chocolate is an all-year love affair. A cup of hot cocoa is not only a sweet memory of my childhood, but it remains my comfort drink to these days. Here is how I make it:
When I want to treat myself or my special people to a quality hot chocolate (horúca čokoláda), I’ll take them to a chocolate house/bar. Now, hot chocolate means different things to different people, and not only in Slovakia. I have drunk hot chocolate in Belgium, Switzerland and England, but none of them tasted the same. Depending on the venue and the price, hot chocolate can be anything from a cheap, thin mixture of some artificial powder with water (at least it tastes like that), to a more pronounced chocolaty drink (I don’t know what they make it from, but it’s more expensive and tastes much better), to a thick, rich, warm chocolate probably made by melting chocolate chips. And this is what I’d call ‘crème de la crème’ of hot chocolate.In Slovakia, this ‘real’ hot chocolate comes in many different flavours (vanilla, cinnamon, chilli) and with various additions (fruit, cream, liquors). Last time we went to our favourite chocolate bar with my daughter, she ordered a mix of dark and white chocolate with vanilla flavour, and I had a dark one with bilberries.
I found mine a little on the sweet side, but I suppose I could have just asked for less sugar in it before serving. All in all, it was a delightful experience, as the place had a very pleasant, cosy ambience, and a beautiful mirror ceiling.