Imbuljuta tal-Qastan

Imbuljuta tal-Qastan is a traditional Maltese hot chocolate, which is flavoured with quintessentially Chistmassy ingredients and served after Midnight Mass and on New Year’s Eve.

Preparation time: 5 minutesSoaking time: 8 hours
Cooking time: 60 minutesServes: 4
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients
  • 400g/14 oz/2 cups of peeled dried chestnuts
  • 200g/8 oz/1 cup of sugar
  • 100g/3½ oz/1 cup of cocoa powder
  • 100g/3½ oz/⅔ cups of chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 cloves, ground
  • ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons of grated tangerine or mandarin rind
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch

Make it vegan: use a vegan cocoa like Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate and ensure that the dark chocolate is dairy free.

Special Equipment

  • A large saucepan

Method

  1. Wash the chestnuts thoroughly, then soak them in water for a minimum of eight hours (preferably overnight).
  2. When ready, drain the chestnuts and add them to a saucepan along with 4 cups of water and all of the remaining ingredients except for the cornstarch. Put the pan on the hob over a medium-high heat and bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly. Allow it to simmer for an hour, or until the chestnuts are tender.
  3. Dissolve the cornstarch in a little water before stirring it thoroughly into the chocolate mixture.
  4. Pour the Imbuljuta into cups and serve hot.
  5. Gawdi!

Tips

  • If desired, try gently crushing the chestnuts after they have been cooked so that they release a bit more flavour. But don’t crush them too much, or you will end up with bits of chestnut floating about in the Imbuljuta.
  • Similarly, make sure you stir the cornflour and water together thoroughly before adding them to the rest of the ingredients, or you will end up with bits of undissolved cornflour in the drink.
  • To spruce up the Imbuljuta, add a large glass of red wine to the saucepan and cook it for an hour with the other ingredients before serving.

Background

Pronunciation: (Im-bul-yu-ta tal-kast-an)
Home:
Malta

Relatives: Cioccolata Calda (Italy), Chocolate Caliente (Spain), Vroča Čokolada (Slovenia)
History

Malta lies just south of Sicily and east of Tunisia. The archipelago is situated on several historical Mediterranean trade routes, and over the centuries has been conquered by the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Aghlabids, Norman Sicilians, Knights Hospitaller (consisting of knights from a range of European kingdoms), Aragonese, French and British. Having been influenced by so many different cultures Malta is vibrant and diverse. The country’s food has been strongly influenced by Sicilian, Arabic, Italian, British, Provençal, French and Spanish cuisines.

Most Maltese people are Catholic and Christmas is widely celebrated. Many attend midnight mass, after which a range of Christmassy sweet treats, including Imbuljuta tal-Qastan, are traditionally served. Imbuljuta tal-Qastan is perfect for the occasion- it’s hot and flavourful enough to warm people up on cold winter evenings, and its ingredients- chocolate, chestnuts, citrus fruits and spices- are quintessentially Christmassy.

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