Those of you who follow me know that I am usually a stickler for authenticity, especially when it comes to the subject of Mexican cuisine and customs. But, baby, it’s cold outside and today’s post is about how to get a quick fix of something hot and Mexican (unless you already have this in your life, in which case you don’t have to worry so much about the cold. But for the rest of you….), so we are going to cut some corners.

Hot Choc & CHurroIf you have:

2-3 teaspoons sugar, preferably brown,  to taste

1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional), we recommend MySpaceSage Pure Vanilla Extract

1-2 sticks cinnamon (if you happen to have Mexican chocolate disks: the best are from Rancho Gordo, you don’t need this)

3 oz or 6 tablespoons chocolate (in any form)

2 1/2 cups milk or, water and 1/4 cup cream or half & half

… then you can make

1. Quick Mexican Hot Chocolate

Follow link for Traditional Mexican Hot Chocolate

(Makes enough for 2 large mugs)

Bring 2 1/2 cups of milk or water (yes, in Mexico, they sometimes make hot chocolate with water) with a teaspoon of vanilla (optional) to boil and reduce heat, adding  1 stick of cinnamon only if you do not have Mexican Chocolate disks (like Abuelita or Ibarra). Allow to simmer (on low) for ten minutes. If using milk, you’ll want to stir occasionally as you are warming the milk mixture, being careful not to allow the pot to boil (or boil over!) Next, add your chocolate. This part is important: if you are adding any kind of sweetened chocolate, including Mexican Chocolate disks, do not add sugar (see next step). If using unsweetened baker’s chocolate square, add 2-3 teaspoons, to taste, of brown sugar (or cane sugar if you don’t have brown sugar) to the hot milk or water and continue cooking until chocolate is completely melted. If using any kind of sweetened bar chocolate, or even sweetened chocolate chips, follow this same step but do not add sugar. If using unsweetened cocoa powder, heat 2 tablespoons of water, sugar and the cocoa powder and microwave briefly and stir to form a paste, which you will add to the hot milk or water. If using sweetened cocoa powder, follow this same step but do not add sugar. Remove warmed milk-chocolate mixture from the stove. Whisk until the hot chocolate turns frothy. Pour into individual clay mugs. Garnish with a stick of cinnamon.

If you have:

1/2 cup prepared tortilla masa (Maseca brand or equivalent) or fresh tortilla
masa (not tamale masa)

scant pinch of salt

4 cups water and a cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate (see above)


5 cups water and any kind of chocolate

1/2- 1 cup milk

… then you can make

2. Quick Champurrado (Chocolate Atole)

Follow link for Traditional Champurrado

(Makes enough for 4 large mugs)

Blend masa with a cup of water by hand or with a hand mixer; be sure there are no lumps left after mixing. Add a second cup of water gradually, continue blending. In a large pot, heat 2 cups water, salt and 1 cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate,  bring to a gentle boil; or, add whatever chocolate you are using (see italicized section above in the instructions for Mexican Hot Chocolate)  to 3 cups water to which salt has been added and bring to a boil. Add masa mixture. Lower heat to medium and continue stirring until masa is cooked (5 minutes), then add more water if needed (in case mixture is too thick, you want to achieve a consistency similar to a thinnish gravy, although some prefer a thicker atole)  and stir for 5 more minutes. Finish by adding 1 cup of milk.Taste for sweetness, add more sugar if needed.  (You may want to use an electric whisk to finish off your atole, it adds a lovely foam and will get out any lumps of masa that might remain.)

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-7-41-15-pmIf you have:

2 cups apple cider

an apple, cut bite-sized

a pear, cut bite-sized

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup other dried fruit such as prunes, cherries

1/4-1/3 cup dried cranberries (important for tartness)

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cinnamon stick

2 whole cloves (optional)

1 star anise (optional)

2 oranges, sliced and cut in half

… then you can make

3. Quick Mexican Holiday Punch

Follow link for Traditional Ponche

(Makes enough for 2 large mugs)

Wash all fruits and cut as required. In a large pot, boil apple cider to which add star anise, cloves, brown sugar and cinnamon sticks have been added. Boil on high for 10-15 minutes, strain mixture to remove any remaining spices. Once strained, add all cut fruits, cook 5 minutes and add dry fruits, and sugar cane. Cook for additional 20 minutes. Serve in a mug or a clay cup. Add brandy for extra warmth!


If you have:

*an envelope of “Horchata


1 cup of white rice

1 cup milk

2  sticks of cinnamon

8 cups water

1 tsp vanilla extract

¾ cup sugar or to taste

Ground cinnamon to taste

… then you can make

4. Horchata Lattes

*Note, if you leave near a Mexican market, like Casa Lucas on 24th St. in the Mission district in San Francisco, you can buy envelopes of “Horchata” to which you just add water. It’s not the real deal, but it is certainly much quicker. If not, recipe for making Horchata follows

(Makes 8 -10 cups of horchata)

Wash rice and then soak it in 1 cup of milk with cinnamon sticks in a covered container; refrigerate overnight. In a blender, add rice, milk, and cinnamon sticks with some of the water; mix until completely blended. Strain though a coffee filter or a fine cheese cloth.In a large pitcher, add the strained mixture, vanilla, sugar to taste, and the rest of the cold water. Stir well and reserve.

Prepare coffee for lattes as usual. Substitute Horchata (rice milk) for regular milk. No need to add sugar, your Horchata Latte is already sweet. Serve with a dash of ground cinnamon

If you have:

Mover el Bigote México DF | Restaurante Don Chon | Café de olla

A clay pot* (optional)

4½ oz piloncillo, roughly chopped or brown sugar

Zest of half orange, finely chopped

2 whole cloves

3-inch piece of cinnamon stick

¾ cup freshly ground dark-roasted Mexican coffee

… then you can make

5. Mexican Coffee or Cafe de Olla

(Makes 2 cups)

*The clay pot used for this recipe adds a subtle put perceptible flavor to the coffee. Do not use the same clay pot you use to prepare beans—you need a separate pot.

In a clay pot (olla) or a kettle bring 9 cups of water to boil, combine the ingredients, stirring until the piloncillo or brown sugar is dissolved. Let steep at least 10 minutes. Pour through a strainer before serving. For special occasions, it is traditional to add a splash of rum or brandy to the individual coffee cups.


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