Mexican Recipes

Chocolate Atole: Champurrado

“Ni amor recomenzado ni chocolate recalentado.” (Neither rekindle a love affair nor reheat chocolate.) Anonymous

Long gone are the days when Mexican women would twirl the melting chocolate in boiling water (which is still used rather than milk in most of Mexico) with a molinillo. We have all seen the molinillos in the market place: a wooden stick topped by intricately carved rings, meant to be held between your palms and twirled to create foam on the hot chocolate. Most modern Mexican women will put hot water and and chocolate tablets together into the blender, or licuadora, and when well mixed, serve up the frothy brew. This beats 16th century Mexico when, pre blender and pre molinillo, in order to get hot chocolate to foam, someone would have to practically climb atop a pyramid and pour the chocolate down, down, down, into the gold ceremonial vessels. Today we can just buy the chocolate tablets, usually chocolate ground up with almonds, sugar and vanilla, and add either milk or water, following directions on the package, for a wonderful cup of Mexican hot chocolate.

Another rich traditional chocolate beverage, especially in Oaxaca where you can find really good freshly ground chocolate, is champurrado, or chocolate atole. Go to the place where you buy freshly made corn tortillas and ask for 4oz of masa. Stir the masa into 4 cups of water and let it stand for 15 minutes. Strain the water into a saucepan, add 4 more cups of water and cook over medium heat. As it is heating, thinly slice 2 oz of piloncillo, or raw sugar, a cinnamon stick and 5 oz of semisweet baking chocolate. Keep stirring, and the chocolate should be melted and the beverage ready in about 15 minutes. The masa thickens and enriches this mixture. Other flavors of atole, a thick beverage which incorporates corn meal masa, are equally popular. Typically, champurrado is served with tamales and is as important on a feast day in Mexico as is baked turkey and cranberry sauce in the US for Thanksgiving.

Next week, in Comida Mexicana, learn to make a delicious Mango, Pineapple, and Chipotle Salsa that is delicious with salmon, shrimp, and turkey too!

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