Seriously, I feel like I’ve been missing something. Mexican chocolate. I mean I’ve had a Mexican hot chocolate before but have never experienced the pure form of it. The deliciously sugary, cinnamony thick tablets of sweet dark chocolate. It’s a serious love affair, and I’m going to find more and more reasons to sneak these into desserts…or my morning coffee. You’ve been warned – forgoing the recipe in favor of just eating the chocolate did not seem like an outlandish option after the first bite.
Atoles are a group of masa-based Mexican and Central American hot drinks with champurrado a specifically chocolate one. The drink consists of water or milk with masa, spices like cinnamon and/or anise, and chocolate in the case of champurrado. The masa acts as a thickening agent to create a drink that can range in thickness from a pudding-like consistency to a thinner liquid.
As the weather continues to cool, the thought of a warm, spicy chocolate drink crept into my mind, and I thought I would explore this version over the traditional Mexican hot chocolate. Champurrado is actually a Christmas drink, though it’s also had for breakfast, often with churros. That’s the breakfast of champions if I ever knew one….would not mind it myself.
I happened to find this luscious Ibarra Mexican chocolate at Whole Foods along with the masa harina I used to thicken it. Although the chocolate is sweetened and has cinnamon, I added a touch more of both along with some vanilla bean for good measure. The result is thick, rich, warmly spiced deep hot chocolate with a hint of that sweet corn flavor. Totally addictive. Enjoy!
4 cups milk
2 tablets Mexican chocolate, chopped into little pieces
1/3 cup masa harina
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped or ¼ tsp vanilla powder (optional)
In a saucepan, warm 1 cup of milk on low (want it warm enough to melt the chocolate). Pour into blender and add chocolate pieces and masa harina. Blend on high for 30 seconds, and strain back into the saucepan.
Add remaining milk and ingredients and heat on medium-low. You want to slowly bring the mixture up. Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce heat to low and let simmer 10 minutes until it thickens and the cinnamon and vanilla have infused.
FYI – It’s natural for a skin to form as you’re cooking. Feel free to remove before pouring.