Learn how to make traditional Mexican hot chocolate using chocolate tablets or disks. This recipe is vegan, perfect for a chocolate lover and there’s also a spiked option!
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Did you know that Mexico gave the World chocolate?
Yes, plants and the cacao beans come from what is now modern day Mexico.
The native people of Mexico, the Maya, the Olmec and Aztec, had a long history with chocolate way before the arrival of the Spanish.
Chocolate was revered by the native people and often formed part of rituals and religious ceremonies. It wasn’t just reserved for the powerful and wealthy of society, it’s actually believed that it was a drink enjoyed by all members of the community.
The Aztec believed that chocolate was a gift from the gods. The modern word chocolate is actually derived from the Aztec word xocolatl.
The indigenous peoples made the chocolate into frothy drinks that were served both hot or cold. It’s believed that they mixed the ground chocolate with water, spices and chili pepper. The Maya sweetened it with honey but it seems that the Aztec preferred a more bitter dark chocolate taste.
The drink they knew then is quite different than the milder milk chocolate mixed with hot milk that is so common today.
Though now it’s not common to find the rustic texture of chocolate, it’s not difficult finding a chocolate shop or gourmet shops anywhere in the World. Nowadays chocolate comes in all shapes and sized, in different flavors, you can buy cacao nibs or even cocoa butter.
Chocolate is truly one of best things in all of the World!
It Mexican Chocolate Season
The weather is changing and autumn is arriving.
So far my first seasonal cravings have been for warm, soft, airy pan de muerto and a frothy cup of chocolate caliente.
Autumnal heaven in my book!
I just love how the sweet bread feels in my hand and fingers. The way the airiness causes 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 or cookies 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, and this is truly one of the best chocolate drinks.
Let’s Make a Cup of The Best Mexican Chocolate
Today I want to share some tips and my recipe for making the best Mexican hot chocolate. We’re going to learn about authentic Mexican chocolate brands that you can use — and don’t worry you can find these in the United States too.
We are going to be using Mexican chocolate bars that are actually round and sold in just about any grocery store and Amazon too.
Hot Chocolate Disks
This hot chocolate version is made using the chocolate discs. Many people also use this same chocolate to make mole sauce and so it’s a very common food item found in Mexican kitchens.
These chocolate disks or tablets are one of the simplest way to make a cup of Mexican hot chocolate.
You can find them on sale at your local Hispanic food store or just about any Latin markets. Also in the ethnic food aisle at the grocery store. But of course there’s always trusty Amazon.
There are several brands of chocolate discs or chocolate tablets. But it comes down to your personal preference and budget to decided which are the best chocolate brands for you.
Please note that this type of chocolate is quite different than the type of chocolate bars you eat as a tasty treat and very much so different than the type used by North Americans to make the hot cocoa drink mixes.
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 and choose which will become your favorite brand.
Additionally the brands mentioned here are the more commercial brands, but you can also use artisanal chocolate brands — or if you visit the Yucatán Peninsula or the state of Oaxaca, make sure to look for local artisan made chocolates.
Most Popular Mexican Chocolate Brands for Hot Chocolate
The three most popular chocolate disc brands are Abuelita, Ibarra and Taza chocolate. Please read through the notes to make sure you’re choosing the best one for you. There are countless other brands, but I choose to focus on these because they’re the easiest to find.
Abuelita Hot Chocolate
Abuelita is the more economical option of the three. Though it doesn’t include dairy in it’s ingredients list, it is made in a factory that processes dairy, eggs and wheat.
The company doesn’t claim the “vegan” label, but on Peta Latino they do list Abuelita chocolate as vegan.
Ingredients in Abuelita Chocolate
The ingredient are: sugar, chocolate processed with alkali, soy lecithin, vegetable oils (palm, shea nut and/or illipe nut), artificial cinnamon flavor, PGPR (an emulsifier).
The sugar content in Abuelita is high so you really don’t need to add any more sugar.
Abuelita has 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 Chocolate is an actual Mexican owned company out of Guadalajara in the stat of Jalisco. It has been around since 1925.
The Ibarra ingredients are cacao paste, Lecithin, cinnamon flavoring and sugar. They also claim 100% natural ingredients.
Ibarra tablet chocolates don’t state whether or not they are vegan, but their ingredients appear to be vegan. The question comes in how the sugar they use is processed — is it vegan or not.
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.
Ibarra also has the ground or powdered packages for a quicker preparation. They recently launched a premium or semi-dark version.
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.
But sometimes I lean towards the Abuelita simply because they occasionally include gorgeous free mugs with the box of chocolate. (I’m a sucker, what can I say).
Taza is USDA Organic, Non-GMO verified, gluten free, vegan and comes in several different flavors.
I’m not too familiar with this brand. I’ve never actually tasted it. So if you have any feedback do share in the comments below.
Which Mexican Hot Chocolate Brand is Best
In the Hispanic community it’s a big debate which brand is the best one.
It’s the never ending, epic battle of Ibarra vs. Abuelita!
I suggest you try both and decide for yourself — or even better if you can splurge on a more expensive artisanal brand then do so. Look for an artisan made one or just less unpronounceable ingredients.
How to Make Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate
Making Mexican hot chocolate is super easy! Especially when using the premade chocolate disks.
Basically all you do is simmer either water or milk (or both). Then you add a stick of Mexican cinnamon and the chocolate disk.
Please note that some people will simmer water with cinnamon first before adding the chocolate and milk. This yields a stronger cinnamon flavor. It’s all a matter of personal taste.
The ingredients are simmered and stirred to help dissolve the chocolate tablet. Then the liquid is frothed up with a molinillo. This is to give it that frothy layer that must be present in Mexican hot chocolate.
If you don’t own a molinillo you can use a regular whisk.
But wait, this hot chocolate has a special extra something. Read on to find out what it is.
Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate
As you can see I used almond milk for my chocolate. But you can also use soy or cashew milk would work well.
I was happily surprised at how well the almond milk frothed up.
Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate
This is totally optional, but I highly recommend you try it out sometime.
Simply add a shot of Kahlua to your chocolate caliente!
Kahlua is also from Mexico. Plus Kahlua is 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.
Recipe for Authentic Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate
Ok amigos below is the super simple recipe for my Mexican hot chocolate. It makes the BEST Mexican chocolate and it’s the perfect drink on a cool autumn night or snowy winter’s day. Enjoy!
Mexican Hot Chocolate Recipe (vegan)
- 1 disk Abuelita chocolate or Ibarra
- 34 oz unsweetened & unflavoured almond milk * it's about 4.25 cups or one liter
- 1 whole stick of Mexican cinnamon canela
- 1 shot Kahlua coffee liqueur optional
- 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 and dissolve 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!
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!
(*Updated Sepetember 2022 | Article originally published October 2018)
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…