Chocolate has long been a popular and important food staple in Mexico and South America. The Aztecs used cacao beans as a form of currency and even had a chocolate god named Quetzalcoatl. Mexican chocolate is made from dark, bitter chocolate flavored with spices, most often cinnamon, and sometimes nuts, seeds or even chilies. It is most often sold in round disks; common brands include Nestle and Ibarra, which are available in all Mexican markets and most higher-end grocery stores. In this recipe, you make the hot chocolate from scratch using unflavored chocolate. This enables you to flavor the drink with whatever spices you like. In a pinch, however, you should certainly feel comfortable using the commercial Mexican chocolate. This is the ideal drink for snowy afternoons spent wrapped up in a blanket with a great book!
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4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
dash of salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped

Cooking Instructions

Place the milk, sugar, salt, cinnamon and vanilla in a stainless steel saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to combine the ingredients. Allow the milk to come to a gentle boil, whisking often. Place the chocolate in a mixing bowl. Pour about 1/2 cup of the heated milk over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is smooth and completely melted. Add the melted chocolate back into the saucepan and whisk until heated through and slightly frothy. Pour into mugs and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings



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For a quicker but just as authentic treat, pick up some Ibarra Mexican chocolate (available at all Mexican and some higher-end markets.) Place 2 wedges of the chocolate in a blender with one cup of hot milk; blend until combined and frothy! This is the easiest option when you just want to make a single serving of hot chocolate for yourself.

Try replacing the vanilla in this recipe with almond extract for a slightly different flavor. Or, for a really deluxe treat, top your hot chocolate with freshly whipped cream and chopped toasted nuts.

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