A Cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate Nostalgia

Nostalgia can sometimes play tricks on you. Some memories are so vivid that you literally feel the same emotions you felt as when they first happened. Others are nebulously indistinct, evanescent as a coastal fog at midday. Did they really happen, or was it just your imagination? The wry expression of a person you've just met, a musical notes wafting out of a storefront door as you walk past, the whiff of someone's perfume--all these can trigger memories of people or events from your past. For me, just smelling Mexican hot chocolate brings me back to a cold February evening of my childhood.My sisters and I are sipping hot Mexican chocolate from bright blue enameled tin cups while sitting at the kitchen table, covered with a white cotton tablecloth, cross-stitched in red roses that our mother embroidered before she met our dad. She serves us large chunks of toasted bolillo, a Mexican roll that resembles a deflated football, hot from the oven and smothered in butter for us to to enjoy with our hot chocolate. The fragrant aroma of bittersweet chocolate, mingled with the scent of almonds and cinnamon spice, fills the entire house. From the brightly illuminated kitchen we watch as our parents, still young and guapitos, slow dance in the darkened living room to Serenata Sin Luna (Moonless Serenade), José Alfredo Jimenez's intensely romantic, yet sweetly melancholy mariachi ballad. Presently, a snappy little cumbia comes on. Instantly forgetting the chocolate, we all jump out of our seats to join in, hopping, rather than dancing around and stepping on their feet. What brings more happiness to a child than to see one’s parents delight in each other’s company? I do not think that this lovely childhood memory would have been quite the same if we were all drinking a spot of tea with biscuits, wouldn’t you agree?

I read somewhere that Mexicans consume over 5 pounds ( 2.26 kilos) of chocolate per year, more than any other people. Perhaps the Europeans were the first to add sugar and milk to chocolate, but we Mexicans gave it soul, and if you adore chocolate, well dear reader, then perhaps you have a Mexican soul, too.

So to all you Mexicans out there who are reading this post, I will not presume that you do not know how to prepare Mexi hot chocolate (that is unless you're a Mexican guy), but I love how this one combines chocolate with three other flavors, cinnamon, vanilla, and chili, most of them just a few of Mexico’s deliciously sublime gifts to the world. You will not really notice the chili, but everyone who drinks this will taste the difference. No need to tell them right way. Just wait for the compliments, and only tell them about the chili after they have finished the last drop. Buen provecho, and may this delicious Mexican hot chocolate help you create some memories that you will never forget.

Mexican Hot Chocolate with a Little Kick of Chili

(Have some culinary courage!)

1 quart milk
2 round tablets of Mexican Hot Chocolate, or to taste (Ibarra's, etc., available at most grocery stores, or go online)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 pinch salt
dash of chili powder (go ahead, add more, a lot more!)
dash of cinnamon to taste
semi sweet chocolate pieces or sugar to taste (optional)
Cut up the chocolate, or do as my mother used to do, grate it. In a saucepan, bring the milk and the chocolate to a boil.

After the chocolate has completely melted and is thoroughly blended with the milk, add the salt, cinnamon and the chili powder.

Simmer for about 10 minutes or so, and then, roll the handle of a molinillo (see picture, above) in the chocolate between the palms of both hands. Or, using a whisk or a electric manual beater, beat until very foamy.

Serve immediately with hot buttered bolillos or french bread straight out of the oven.


sarala said...

I just had hot chocolate last night (not the Mexican kind). It is definitely special. Thanks for sharing a lovely memory.

Dona Junta said...

Love the memories!
I never had chocolate with the added toaches you add sounds good.
we always just boiled the milk and added the Ibarra or Abuelita
we would eat it with bolillo too but we called it birote

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to have this Mexican hot chocolate when it gets cold!:-)

Jeff said...

I LOVE Mexican hot chocolate. I can't remember who made it for me, but I remember that it kicked trash! Good stuff! Thanks for reminding me of it! :)

Clementina aka "La Traductora" said...

Hi Jeff--
Well, now that you have the recipe, I think it's time that you let some Mexican Hot Chocolate kick some trash again. Hope you'll like this recipe!

Lindsay said...

What's a good chile powder to buy? I'm looking for one that would be good for this, or just to sprinkle on fresh mango or pineapple, or on a mango paleta. Any recommendations?

Clementina said...

Hola, Lindsay!
Any powdered California or New Mexico chile powder would be just fine. California chile is milder than New Mexico chile.
Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this recipe. I made it last night for our book club as we discussed "Como agua para chocolate". So delicious! I used Abuelita chocolate tablets and did not bother grating or chopping them, just let them melt while whisking the milk as it warmed. It took a little longer to meld but ended up saving work. Everyone enjoyed it!

Karin Anderson said...

Our local natural food store carries Mexican chocolate, and I made the hot chocolate today - loved it! My husband had it plain, he doesn’t like spiced chocolate, but I added all the spices.
A pity that you didn’t post anything more, Clementina