Mexican Hot Chocolate is my favorite drink on a cold winter's day.
Mexican chocolate has a hint of cinnamon and spice in it. It makes a better cup of hot chocolate than the one I grew up with.
*Swiss Miss powder, with the tiny "marshmallows" in it.
Our kids love it. They've been drinking it since they were little.
Years ago, we were visiting my aunt and uncle in Chicago.* We spent a day downtown on Michigan Avenue, checking out all the shops on the Miracle Mile. Ben and Natalie loved the Lego store; Tim was a little over a year old, and was snoozing in his stroller. We went for a late lunch at Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill. The kids thought it was the best meal of our visit. They ate tortillas and drank cup after cup of Mexican hot chocolate, while the servers cooed over Tim as he slept in his stroller.
*Hi, Terry and Mary!
- Stick blender (Or a regular blender, if you're brave. See the Notes section below.)
- 3 ounce disk of Mexican chocolate, broken into tabs
- 2 ½ cups milk
1. Heat the Milk and Chocolate: Put the chocolate and milk into a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the milk is steaming and the chocolate is melted. The milk will be 200*F; steaming, but not quite simmering.
2. Blend the Hot Chocolate: Using your stick blender, blend the hot chocolate until it has a good head of froth on it, about 1 minute.
3. Serve: Pour into cups and serve!
*Spicy hot chocolate: Add a quarter teaspoon of ground chipotle chile pepper before heating the milk. Spicy heat and chocolate are a combination that goes back to the Aztecs.
*Vanilla: Add a split vanilla bean to the pot when you're heating the milk, and take it out before you start blending.
*The kids love this with mini-marshmallows. I know it's not very authentic, but it tastes great.
*Sometimes, the hard part of this recipe is finding Mexican chocolate. Look for it in the international aisle of your grocery store, or, preferably, at your local Mexican market. I get the Ibarra or Nestle Abuelita brand.
*Blending the hot chocolate. I recommend blending the hot chocolate; it gives you a nice, frothy layer on top. I love using my stick blender for this. Because I have a wide pot, I pour the hot chocolate into 1 quart pyrex cup before blending. If you have a sauce pot that is taller than it is wide, and is less than half full from the hot chocolate, you can blend in the pot.
*Also, the pyrex cup has a pouring spout, which makes for easier serving.
*If you use a traditional blender, watch out! Hot liquid plus blender equals lid shooting off and hot chocolate spraying all over the place.
*Warning - I go full-on food science geek for the next paragraph or two...
Why? Hot air expands in volume by about a quarter. When you put hot liquid in a blender, you have room temperature air above it in the blender. Turn the blender on, and that air gets mixed into the hot liquid and heats up. This causes two things to happen: first, the air in the top of the blender, heated by the liquid, increases in size by a quarter. This causes a blast of air pressure, which will shoot the lid off the top of the blender if it can't escape. Second, the air mixed into the liquid causes the liquid to expand as well, and climb up the sides of the blender. If you have a tight seal on the lid, or too much liquid in the blender…kablooey.
*For more details, including the equation that shows you get 1.273 times more volume of air in your blender, read this: Blending Hot Liquids [kitchensavvy.com]
*Safe blending tips are: don't fill the blender more than half full, leave the feed tube cap off the lid to let the expanding gases escape, and hold the lid on tight with a kitchen towel to force the expanding gases out through the hole in the feed tube.
*If you want to be really authentic, get a Mexican molinillo and spin it between your palms to whisk up the froth.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Iced Sweet Tea
Rick Bayless: Authentic Mexican
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