Snow, hail, sleet, temperatures below freezing. Some days it seems that winter will never end here in Washington, DC. Well, at least it’s a good excuse to prepare one of our favorite hot winter drinks: Mexican Hot Chocolate. My daughter Rosa thinks it’s like an enormous liquid bonbon, and I guess she’s right. This hot chocolate is velvety smooth because of the cornstarch and has a rich, pure chocolate taste. I love to add spices, like cayenne, cinnamon, and ground cloves. It’s a delicacy, but if you’re not a real spice lover, you can easily leave them out. Or just use one of the spices mentioned below (for my kids I leave the cayenne out). We like to eat Polvorones, Mexican walnut cookies, with this hot chocolate. A delicious combination.
MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE
Drink, serves 2-3
Action Time: 10-15 minutes
2 cups/500 ml milk
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp cornstarch
2½ tbsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of cayenne, ¼ tsp ground cloves and/or ½ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1.75 oz/50 g dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
ground cinnamon, for sprinkling (optional)
1. Pour a small amount of the milk into a saucepan. Add cocoa, cornstarch, sugar, vanilla, and the spices, if using. Mix well with a whisk. Add the rest of the milk.
2. Heat the milk while whisking over medium heat and add the dark chocolate. Allow to boil, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes or until the chocolate has melted and the hot chocolate is slightly thick. Remove from the heat, pour into cups or small mugs (it’s quite heavy!) and sprinkle over some cinnamon if you like.
MEXICAN WALNUT COOKIES (POLVORONES DE NUEZ)
Sweet, 22-24 cookies
Action Time: 25-30 minutes
2 oz/50 g walnuts
2.5 oz/75 g sugar
5 oz/150 g all-purpose flour
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick (8 tbsp)/ 115 g butter, into cubes
icing sugar, for dusting
Extra: food processor, baking sheet covered with parchment paper
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. In a food processor grind the nuts together with the sugar. Add flour, vanilla, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 1-2 tbsp cold water and pulse until the dough comes together; don’t overwork the dough.
2. Shape dough into 1-inch balls: again, don’t knead more then necessary. If the dough becomes too soft and warm after all, put it in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Place the balls on the baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes until lightly golden.
3. Remove from the oven. Let cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar.