Barbajada [bar – bah – ya – da]

That’s not a word you see every day. It actually isn’t even a real word, it is a person’s surname that has been transformed into the name of a rich, chocolaty, coffee flavoured drink.

This drink was born in Milan in the 1800’s and was traditionally served to accompany desserts and was popular until the 1930’s. Now there probably isn’t a bar in Milan that has it on the menu, in fact I had never heard about it until my son brought me a book on traditional Milanese cuisine.

It’s inventor was a man by the name of Domenico Barbaja (or Barbaia) and he started his professional life as a waiter in a cafe.

He is credited with having invented the Barbajada, a frothy drink, served hot and which is equal parts chocolate, coffee and milk or cream.

The invention of this drink occurred (reportedly) while he was a garzone di caffè at the Caffè della Cecchina, also known as the Caffè dei Virtuosi, located across from La Scala.

The drink was so successful that Barbaja made a fortune, which he increased during the Napoleaonic Wars.

He then became a theatre impresario and at one point he even ran La Scala.

After making this and tasting it, I can’t quite figure out why it fell from grace, because frankly, it was delicious.

I made my version more decadent than the original – but it’s always nice to put your own spin on things don’t you think?

Ingredients – Serves 2

100 gr dark chocolate, melted (70 % Cocoa)

100 ml espresso

100 ml milk

sugar to taste

In a milk pan or small saucepan, combine all the ingredients and warm over low heat. Whisk energetically until you achieve a froth. Serve.

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