A new cooler season has arrived, and though the change isn’t as nearly as dramatic here in the Tropics you can smell and feel a difference in the air. For us we are months away from there being an actual chill in the air — but at least the sweltering heat of the tropical summer is gone, and with that change my body begins to crave different kinds of foods.
Something else that also affects my cravings is the holiday season. We are just days away from Halloween, then Dia de Muertos, American Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Dia de Los Reyes Magos, La Candelaria…. Ay ay ay here come those extra lovehandles!
So far my first seasonal cravings have been a warm, soft, airy pan de muerto and a frothy, warm, sweet cup of chocolate caliente. Autumnal heaven!
My craving was very vivid, I could feel the sweet bread in my hand and fingers, the way the airyness caused it to squish a bit when I ripped off a piece. Then holding the cup of hot chocolate in one hand while I carefully dipped my piece of bread into it to let it soak up that chocolatey goodness. Sigh.
I’m not one to let cravings go unsatisfied — life is to short for that!
Well, unfortunately and sadly, this year my pan de muerto (bread of the dead) didn’t quite turnout as perfect as last year. The taste was spot on but it was the texture that failed, a bit too dense. I’m still trying to figure out the liquid ratios adjustment, due to the high humidity here it’s a constant adjustment of liquids in my baking. (Anyone have some tips for me?) So even though I was so excited to share a video recipe for the pan de muerto, I’m going to have to hold off on that.
You can say that my craving was three quarters satisfied (if you can say such things). Even though the pan wasn’t perfect I still wanted to dip it into some frothy Mexican hot chocolate. Today’s “recipe” is for the hot chocolate, it’s not really a recipe as it’s a very basic drink to put together when you have the help of the chocolate discs.
But wait, this hot chocolate has a special extra something. Read on to find out what it is.
This hot chocolate version is made using the chocolate discs and they can be found at your local Hispanic food store, the ethnic food aisle at the grocery store and of course there’s always trusty Amazon.
There are several brands of chocolate discs and it comes down to your personal preference and budget. Some are vegan and non-gmo certified and others though they don’t contain dairy in their ingredients list, are not certified vegan…so that’s a personal call for you to make.
Abuelita is the more economical option of the three and though it doesn’t include dairy in it’s ingredients, it is made in a factory that processes dairy, eggs and wheat. Though the company doesn’t claim the “vegan” label on Peta Latino they do list them as so. The sugar content is high so you really don’t need to add any more sugar. There are hints of cinnamon and as far as I’ve seen there’s only one classic version of the discs. Occasionally I’ve seen the chocolate in granulated form so it’s ready to mix, heat and enjoy. Abuelita is owned by Nestlé which is a Swiss company.
Ibarra is an actual Mexican owned company out of Guadalajara, Jalisco and has been around since 1925. The ingredients are cacao paste, Lecithin, cinnamon flavoring and sugar and they also claim 100% natural ingredients. I’ve seen the classic Ibarra tablets package as well as individual packages and even a reduce sugar version — though it’s only been on a couple of occasions so it may be difficult to find. They too have the ground packages for a quicker preparation. They recently launched a premium or semi-dark version and even have just cacao for your baking needs.
My family is from Jalisco and Ibarra is quite popular there, for obvious reasons, but we grew up drinking both Ibarra and Abuelita. I buy both brands, sometimes I lean towards the Abuelita because they occasionally include gorgeous free mugs with the box of chocolate (I’m a sucker, what can I say).
In the Hispanic community it’s a big debate which brand you like best, it’s an Ibarra vs. Abuelita battle! I suggest you try both and decide for yourself — or even better if you can splurge on a more expensive brand then do so.
Traditionally Mexican hot chocolate is frothy and this is due to the use of a molinillo or a special wooden whisk,but if you don’t have one you can use a regular whisk.
- Place the chocolate disc in a saucepan, pour in the milk and add the cinnamon stick. Over medium-low heat simmer and stir often to help break up the chocolate. Once chocolate is dissolved, cover and simmer under low heat for another 10 minutes -- careful don't let it boil over!
- Remove the cinnamon stick and discard. Using a whisk or the traditional molinillo begin to froth up the hot chocolate continue until you have a thick froth or until you're desired taste. Serve and enjoy! Makes 2 large servings or 4 small ones.
- For the spiked version add a shot to each cup, or as much Kahlua as desired. Salud!
** If you don't have a molinillo you can use a whisk instead.
As you can see I choose almond milk for my chocolate but you can also use regular milk or even soy would work well. I was happily surprised at how well the almond milk frothed up, it doesn’t stay too long but enough to enjoy the delicious drink.
This is totally optional, but I highly recommend you try it out sometime. Add a shot of Kahlua to your chocolate caliente! Kahlua is also from Mexico and it’s vegan too, did you know that?
The coffee liqueur compliments the chocolate and cinnamon tones perfectly. It is very sweet though and specially if you’re drinking with a pan dulce, I don’t recommend you have all this sugar too often.
As I previously mentioned my craving was for a hot chocolate and a pan dulce to dip into, that’s exactly what I enjoyed. If you pair your chocolate caliente with a pan de muerto then you have a perfect treat for celebrating Day of The Dead.
Now wouldn’t you love to be doing this right now? Si!! Go on and make yourself a pot of Mexican hot chocolate!
¡Buen provecho amigos!