Mexican Hot Chocolate–Another Happy Accident
I love happy accidents in the kitchen, and making this cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate ranks right up there as one of the best.
Last year, to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I bought a box of Ibarra Mexican Chocolate to make an easy version of Chicken Mole Slow Cooker Style.
Each colorful yellow box contains six 3ish-ounce “tablets” of Mexican chocolate. This chocolate is not designed to be something you’d eat straight from the box. The texture is hard and coarse, making it SUPER hard to cut into pieces. I almost got out a hammer and chisel for that task. No kidding!
As for the taste? I do have to admit, I had to give it a try straight out of the package. After chopping off a small piece and popping it into my mouth, I would have to say it feels gritty and rough, and AFTER I got over the whole texture thing, it actually tasted good. This Mexican chocolate is super SUPER sweet, too. The first ingredient is SUGAR (and lots of it) if that tells you anything. According to the package label, 2 wedges contain 16 g of sugar. Since we’ll be using about 4 wedges per serving that’s about 8 teaspoons of sugar per serving. OUCH! But my plan is to stick with drinking it only on a “special occasion.”
I love a good story when it comes to food, and Ibarra Chocolate has a good one. The brand began in 1925 when Maria Ruiz and Camilo Gomez Ibarra created and then began selling their homemade Mexican chocolate. They were the first to export Mexican chocolate to the USA and around the world. The Ibarra chocolate business grew into an international and prestigious Mexican chocolate industry in the ensuing years as their children came on board to run the family business.
Because of their “gourmet” reputation and REAL chocolate liquor as an ingredient, I chose the Ibarra brand when I was looking for Mexican Chocolate for my Chicken Mole Slow Cooker Style recipe. I found Ibarra Mexican Chocolate at a local Mexican specialty store, but it’s available from many online retailers.
The Other Mexican Chocolate
Abuelita Mexican Chocolate is another very popular brand of Mexican chocolate. This one is easily found on the shelves of major grocery stores. I found it on the shelf at my local Walmart’s Latin Food section. Although I have not tried it, it probably tastes very good given all the positive reviews.
So which one is better? Both brands definitely have their faithful fans. I even found this comparison on YouTube Abuelita vs Ibarra, which was fun to watch.
Like most comfort foods, the preferred Mexican hot chocolate seems to be based on nostalgia with those childhood memories and holiday and family traditions playing an important role in brand choice. Kind of like me and my mayo–Hellman’s or bust.
So what’s the difference? Ibarra contains cinnamon and Abuelita does not. Ibarra contains chocolate liquor and Abuelita does not.
What To Do With The Leftovers
After making the Chicken Mole Slow Cooker Style recipe, I was left with several remaining chocolate “tablets.” So, I thought, why not just use them for what they were traditionally designed to be used for–Mexican Hot Chocolate. What an idea!
I wanted to do something extra with the hot chocolate rather than just use the package directions, so I started flipping through Diana Kennedy’s The Cuisines of Mexico and Rick Bayless’s Authentic Mexican and then on to googling WAY TOO MANY recipes online.
The experts agree that nothing compares to REAL stone ground chocolate made in Mexico, but since that’s not easily available, I chose to use Ibarra Mexican Chocolate. My recipe ended up being a combination of several recipes. Some recipes I found added chile powder and some did not. I thought the addition would give it a little extra punch so in went a couple pinches of chile powder.
And even though the Ibarra brand had cinnamon in it already, I thought adding a little more might be nice, so in went a couple pinches of cinnamon. I used Ceylon cinnamon as that’s what is traditionally used in Mexico and many believe its healthier. Any type will work, though. A little apple pie spice might taste good, too, I think. I’ll add it next time.
As for that extra punch thing, I added Mexican Kahlua as an afterthought. A friend suggested Baileys Irish Cream and another suggested adding a little of both–all good suggestions by the way. However, even skipping the Kahlua or alcohol of choice, this Mexican Hot Chocolate is delicious.
Also, I used whole milk in my recipe. Several folks seem to like Mexican Hot Chocolate with almond or soy milk, but I’ve never tried it. So you’re on your own with that one.
Because Cocoa Powder is Healthy
I added what seemed like A LOT (4 Tablespoons) of cocoa powder. Someone suggested it on line, and I agreed. Plus, it added a hint of healthy to the drink. After all, cocoa does have TONS of much needed minerals, flavonoids and antioxidants in it.
Cocoa powder, the unsweetened kind, contains iron (needed to make red blood cells), manganese (a bone builder and antioxidant), magnesium (for normal heart rhythm) and zinc (builds new cells to keep the immune system working at its peak).
Adding the cocoa powder probably doesn’t neutralize all that sugar and fat from the Mexican chocolate tablet, but with all that healthy going on with cocoa, for me it’s still worth the addition.
The result of my experimenting was a rich and creamy almost decadent cup of hot chocolate. It has SO MUCH CHOCOLATE in it that it’s like drinking a melted chocolate bar. And because it wasn’t “rich enough”, I topped it off with whipped cream with a sprinkle of cinnamon. It seemed to mellow that touch of bitter. Oh my it was sweet and delicious. Definitely a “special occasion” kind of drink.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Dutch process but any type works)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (I used Ceylon cinnamon but use whatever you have on hand)
- 3 ounces 1 disk Mexican sweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ibarra brand)
- In a medium saucepan, HEAT the milk, cocoa powder, chili powder, cinnamon and salt, whisking constantly until it comes to a boil.
- WHISK in the chocolate until it is completely melted.
- SERVE warm topped with whipped cream, if desired.