Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Barbajada Chocolate Drink

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


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The Barbajada was a popular Milanese hot drink in the 19th century, made with whipped chocolate, milk and coffee in equal parts, along with any amount of sugar, and topped with cream. It was served cold in summer and hot in winter, with a slice of Panettone (Christmas sweet bread), or any other cakes of preference. It was created by Domenico Barbaia, a waiter turned impresario at Caffe’ dei Virtuosi (Virtuous Cafe’) in the luxury venue of Piazza della Scala near the Opera House in Milan. This simple recipe should be made right before serving and a great alternative for the Valentine’s celebration of chocolate.

Serves 4 people


  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 16 oz. whole milk
  • 4 shots of espresso coffee, freshly brewed
  • fresh whipped cream, for garnish


In a medium saucepan put the sifted powdered cocoa and sugar. Combine well the two ingredients then add slowly the cold milk and the coffee. Cook at medium heat, beating constantly with a whisk, or with a hand blender, until the surface will form rich and stiff foam. Pour into cups and serve hot with fresh whipped cream on top. Shaved unsweetened chocolate may also be sprinkled over the top.

Note: Barbajada may also include chopped hazelnut but that is purely optional. In many areas of Piedmont the variety “La Tonda “is used. This particular fruit which enjoys the IGP status (stands for protected geographical indication), is a precious variety because of its almost Tonda=round shape which makes it very suitable for confectionery industry and the cultivation is from the Langhe region also well known for its grapes.


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Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well”. /


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