The Mexicans really 'own' chocolate more than any other culture. The cacao bean originated in Mexico and South America, and chocolate's been consumed there for centuries. So really, this is the granddaddy of all hot chocolates. It's flavored with cinnamon, star anise, and Mexican chocolate, but gets its velvety pudding-like consistency from masa harina.
You can find tablets of Mexican chocolate in the international aisle of the supermarket. It's mixed with various spices, and sugar, and has sort of a grainy texture when you cut into it. The licorice flavored star anise is common in Eastern cuisines, but here it's more of a specialty spice. Keep an eye out for it, but if you can't find it, don't worry, just use the cinnamon. I've talked a lot about masa harina, the finely ground corn meal made from lime treated hominy. Your should find it either in the International aisle, or with the grains and flours. Don't substitute corn meal, that won't work.
This is a very distinctive hot chcocolate, probably unlike anything you've ever had.
If you're used to hot chocolate out of a packet, you owe it to your self to try this. This is like a thick chocolate porridge. Almost breakfast in itself.
Chocolate Atole ~~~ slightly adapted from the Muy Bueno Cookbook
1 1/2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 anise star
- Bring the water, cinnamon stick and anise to a simmer in a saucepan. Turn off the heat and let steep for 10 minutes.
1 cup whole milk
1 tablet Mexican chocolate (about 3 oz)
1/4 cup brown sugar
- Remove the spices and turn the heat back on under the saucepan. Whisk in the masa harina, and when it is combined, add the milk, chocolate and sugar.
- Cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat, whisking often. The mixture will come to a boil and thicken, When it is thick and smooth, pour in mugs. You will need a spoon!
Other hot chocolates you might enjoy---