Imbuljuta tal-Qastan (Maltese Christmas Hot Chocolate)

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner. Where did this year go?!

I am trying to be good for the last days of 2017 and not overindulge in anything but I could not bypass another year without making some delicious Imbuljuta tal-Qastan.

This year I decided to make a wonderful vegan hot chocolate recipe that is super amazing, perfect for Christmas. Imbuljuta tal-Qastan comes from the European county of Malta. Malta is small island south of Italy and has a diverse and long history.

It has been under the rule of Greeks, the Spanish, the Romans and more recently the British. With all those cultural influences it’s no wonder that Maltese cuisine is varied.

While much of its cuisine may have been influenced by outsiders there are a few dishes that are proudly Maltese in origins, such as Imbuljuta tal-Qastan which I have made this year. Imbuljuta tal-Qastan is a thick chocolate drink simmered with chestnuts, orange peel and spices. It is traditionally drunk on Christmas Eve after Midnight Mass and on New Year’s Eve.

Imbuljuta tal-Qastan is basically Christmas in a cup. It smells of cinnamon and oranges and makes the whole house smell amazing. I can see why this would be the drink to have on a cold winter night. I love everything about this drink and love that chestnuts are a key ingredient.

I do recommend you use dried shelled chestnuts as it takes a long time to prepare fresh ones, as I did. First I had to roast them (pierce them with an X mark first to ensure they don’t burst). Then I had to remove the hard outer shell before soaking them overnight and removing the thinner shell layer before they were finally ready to be used. Trust me when I say using dried ones makes everything so much easier, though you do need to soak them overnight still to soften them.

I do hope you give Imbuljuta tal-Qastan a try and enjoy it as much as I do and I will see you next year!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!


Imbuljuta tal-Qastan (Maltese Christmas Hot Chocolate)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 2 Cups peeled whole dry chestnuts
  • 200g Dark chocolate, roughly broken up
  • ½ Tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 6 Whole cloves
  • Peel of one orange plus 1 tsp grated
  • 1 Tsp cornstarch
  • 3-4 Cups water
  • Dairy free cream (optional)
  1. Soak chestnuts in cold water overnight and up to 12 hours before preparing the drink.
  2. Drain and add to a medium-sized pot. Add spices, orange peel, chocolates and water and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn down to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add in cornstarch and turn heat up to low medium and allow to thicken for roughly 5 minutes.
  5. Serve in small deep bowls or mugs with grated orange peel sprinkled on top.
  6. Dairy-free cream can be added if you prefer a thinner and creamier flavour.
  7. Will keep in a refrigerator for 3 days.

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