Mexican Hot Chocolate

Champurrado is one of a family of hot drinks called atole.  Atoles are a corn masa gruel sweetened with raw sugar and flavored by fruit or berries or chocolate or even chiles.  They have a water or milk base and may be further seasoned with spices such as cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract.   The fruit and berries most often used are crushed pineapple, strawberries and blackberries.  The sugar used is piloncillo which is a Mexican brown sugar formed into a hard cone as you see in the pictures below.  If you don't have access to piloncillo, you could use dark brown sugar and add a couple of tablespoons of molasses.   If you don't have access to Mexican chocolate, you could use a dark or bitter-sweet chocolate.  Quantities are not exact, they're a matter of taste.

Today Doņa Martha is using masa from the neighborhood tortilleria,  When I suggested using dry masa, she turned up her nose at the idea, saying that dry masa is OK only for making gorditas.  If you don't have access to a tortilleria, you'll have to use dry masa which you can find in a grocery store that carries Mexican food items.  Regular corn meal would not work well.  If you use dry masa, dissolve about one and half cups of the masa in about a cup of warm water by whisking or in a blender, then proceed as Doņa Martha does.

Doņa Martha begins by dissolving about one and half cups of prepared masa in a liter (quart) of milk.  She does this by massaging the masa in the milk until it is dissolved.  

If you are using water, a blender could be used, but a blinder is not a good way with milk -- too much foam.

4 liters (one gallon) milk, 2 piloncillo cones, 2 discs of Mexican chocolate (180 gm = 6 oz total), and 2 cinnamon sticks.

The dissolved masa milk is strained to remove any undissolved lumps. Then the rest of the milk and other ingredients are added along with salt to taste.  The cooking continues in a gentle simmer with frequent stirring until the chocolate and piloncillos are completely dissolved.

This chocolate delight is the traditional drink with Christmas tamales.

If you are using brown sugar rather than piloncillo, cooking should continue until the chocolate has completely dissolved and the atole has thickened enough that it will coat a spoon and gently run off.

If you are using fruit or berries rather than chocolate, add them after the atole has been cooked.

If you wish to write to Doņa Martha, you may send an e-mail to Cooking Directory