Friday, October 29, 2010

Mexican Hot Chocolate

The Maya and Aztecs of Mexico were the original chocoholics- with cocoa pods being considered medicinal and used a currency. A swill called xocoatl was drunk (in excess by the nobility), which was a mixture of unrefined chocolate, water, and spices which was served cold. This heritage continues to this day with full-bodied recipes for warm drinking chocolate, normally with a kick. This isn't your typical Swiss Miss or Nestle's chocolate for gulping down on a snowy day- this is chocolate for sipping (cautiously, it burns).

My recipe is a mix of traditional ones and a few modern shortcuts (like hot sauce) for convenience. Marshmallows are wholly optional.

Kagashi's Mexican Hot Chocolate

- Saucepan (smallish to medium)
- Spatula
- Small bowl
- Whisk (or fork)
- Spoons

- 1 dark chocolate bar of your choice (I used a 30 cent Trader Joe Bar)
- 1 tbsp  (15mL) cocoa powder
- 3 tbsp (45mL) white sugar
- 1 tbsp (15mL) cinnamon
- 3 1/2  (840 mL) cups milk (your choice of fat percentage, I used good old 2%)
- 1/2 (120) cup water
- 2 eggs
- Hot sauce or chili powder to taste
- 1 (4.9 mL) tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Break up your chocolate bar into pieces and melt it in a double boiler or over low heat- then add your chocolate, sugar, and water. Be sure to mix thoroughly so it becomes a nice, smooth concentrate. Once that's together, slowly add in the milk (.... keep stirring) and the water (KEEP STIRRING) until that's velvety smooth and ever-so slighty bubbly.

Remember that small bowl? Crack two eggs and begin whisking as if your life depends on it (El Chupacabra exists, and it goes after people who don't whisk and stir their hot chocolate enough). At this point, add in your cinnamon and vanilla (if desired).

 Now it's time to temper. If you've never tempered before, it's easy- but ESSENTIAL. Take a few spoonfuls (one at a time!) of your hot mixture from the pot and stir it into your eggs. If you don't gradually bring them up to temperature this way, the stark contrast of heat will scramble the eggs- and grainy, eggy chocolate isn't particularly appetizing- so temper ladies and gentlmen!

 At this point, finish up your hot chocolate with the spices of your choosing- I opted for a few dashes of hot sauce. A bit of chili powder, a pinch of peppermint, or even a little bit of cayenne are also quite delightful.

Remember that in this recipe, a little goes a long way. This is fairly concentrated stuff, and taking big gulps of it like you would Swiss Miss might result in a scorched esophagus. Although some people are rather keen on that these days, what with ghost pepper salsa becoming commonplace in supermarkets.

Enjoy a cup on a cold evening with friends, top it with a dollop of whipped cream, have some on Dia de Los Muertos in honor of your chocoholic grandmother (Rest her soul).

Speaking of Dia de Los Muertos, I'll be headed to Detroit on Monday to take a look at the celebrations happening in Mexicantown.


  1. Another excellent post!And while I must now substitute stevia powder for the sugar, I've never had El Chupacabra visit to scold me about the eggs...

  2. Mexican chocolate is one of our all time favourites for the season of white fluffy stuff (winter in Canada).

  3. I'm from mexico and in all my life we've never used eggs and sauce or chili powder on our hot chocolate :/

  4. MS, I do know that there is a tradition of hearty drinking chocolate with cinnamon though (I'm a fan of Abuelita). The use of chili powder (and hot sauce for me) was taught to me from a friend and a few other recipes trying to hearken back to the xocoatl drink the Aztecs had. The eggs just help make it thick and rich.

    Besides, it's pretty tasty stuff either way.

  5. You need to read the book, Naked Chocolate! There are some great recipes in there, as well as some cultural history of chocolate and some rather discouraging information about 'dutch process', which is most of the cocoa available.

  6. Mmmmm! This is a very similar receipe to my own mixture of Cocoa powder, cristalyzed organic sugar cane sirup, powdered cinamon, vanilla and either chili powder, Kari Gosse, Pink pepper, Armenian pepper or Espelette pepper, whatever I have on hand (or the first one I find in the spice cupboard).

  7. Nice post! The recipes for traditional chocolate varied in different parts of MesoAmerica. This is a site where you can order recreation MesoAmerican versions of chocolate as well as contemporary ones. I made up some of the Mayan Spice one last night for our Day of the Dead altar. I have also been involved in the Aztec dance community for years and their traditional recipes used just chocolate, spices, sugar and water.