Mexican Hot Chocolate
July 19, 2011

This popular warm, spicy treat drunk in Mexico generally contains milk, semi-sweet chocolate, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. This recipe is my favorite variation because it contains honey, which adds a whole other dimension to the drink. While making this drink I first tried freshly grated cinnamon, most easily made by using a micro plane or a spice grinder, and it really is much more flavorful and has more of a kick. What really makes Mexican hot chocolate unique though is the addition of hot chili peppers, which were an important part of the original Aztec Xocolatl. This recipe only calls for a hint of chili though, not nearly enough to feel the burn, just enough for added warmth and flavor and an extra layer of spice to accompany the cinnamon. High quality cocoa powder or dark chocolate really will make all the difference in a recipe like this since it prominently features it, and why not splurge a little on an ingredient that's known to do everything from reduce blood pressure to raise serotonin levels. This version of hot chocolate is still comforting and homey but the cinnamon, honey, and especially the chili powder makes every sip interesting.

While this dessert is rich and filling, it has no cholesterol and only one gram of fat. Of course, if you want a richer hot chocolate, substitute two percent or whole milk. If you don't have Sweet Ground Cocoa like Ghiradeli's then you can substitute unsweetened cocoa powdered or finely chopped dark chocolate and sugar. Vanilla honey is one of my absolute favorite things, which is simply made by scraping the beans from a vanilla pod and mixing it into honey and storing it. Using plain honey instead and adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract would also work just fine, and it's less expensive. The cinnamon sticks are such a nice touch and work well as a stirrer, but of course are unnecessary. However, don't leave out the pinch of salt- like in all desserts it helps to bring out the sweetness. I didn't call in this recipe for too much chili powder since for some this could be an acquired taste, but if you enjoy it try adding more next time. Take care to check the ingredients of your chili powder though to make sure it is just made from chilies. Many products labeled "chili powder" are spice mixes containing anything from oregano to garlic powder, and you might be able to taste them in the hot chocolate.

Mexican Hot Chocolate
Kathleen Neumark

3 cups Skim Milk
4 tablespoons high-quality Sweet Ground Chocolate
12 teaspoon Cinnamon
14 teaspoon Chili Powder
14 teaspoon of Salt
2 teaspoons Vanilla Bean Honey
2 Cinnamon Sticks

Heat milk in a heavy saucepan over medium, stirring often, until foam and tiny bubbles appear around the edges. Turn the heat to low, and whisk in the chocolate, cinnamon, chili powder, and salt until the chocolate is melted. Whisk in the vanilla honey, and remove from heat. Serve in two mugs, each with a cinnamon stick.

Calories*: 222 Fat*: 1 g Carbs*: 25 g Cholesterol*: 0 mg
Sugar*: 38 g Fiber*: 1 g Protein*: 13 g Servings*: 2 (1.5 cup(s) each)

Ease*: 10/10 Categories: Drink, Dessert
Total Time*: 20 minutes Active Time*: 15 minutes
Kosher: Dairy


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