Swoon to the movie “Like Water for Chocolate”? We do. For many reasons, among them the fact that the title draws, word for word, on an ageless and really quite apt Mexican saying. See, when someone is said to be “like water for chocolate,” they’re at the point of boiling over with emotion. Makes perfect sense when you consider that in Mexico, where hot chocolate is made the proper way and not from pathetic little envelopes, water must be sufficiently caliente in order to melt the discs of slowly toasted, hand-ground cacao, sugar, and aromatics into something to sip. This old-fashioned approach results in the “wonderfully frothy hot chocolate from Oaxaca” that Fany Gerson speaks of in her book, My Sweet Mexico, and captures in the recipe below.
Said chocolate discs—or tablets, as Gerson says—exist in a vast array of styles. Plain. Infused with chiles. Spiced. Nutty. With a lilt of vanilla. And, um, other intriguing things. They can also be a little tricky to find. If you want Mexican hot chocolate that’s truly made from scratch, consider making your own chocolate tablets as Gerson instructs in her lovely, lavish book. If that’s a little beyond your desired commitment, seek out Mexican chocolate discs at specialty stores, online, or, natch, in Mexico.–Renee Schettler Rossi
LC Holy Moli-What? Note
Mexican hot chocolate is traditionally energetically beaten with a molinillo and, according to Gerson, poured from up high so the not-too-sweet sipper is foamy. She says it’s okay to use a whisk if you don’t have a wooden tool that’s turned with the palms of your hands to froth the hot chocolate. But for best results, just make sure the chocolate is really frothy and really hot before you drink it.
Mexican Hot Chocolate ~ Chocolate Caliente
- 3/4 cup or so whole milk or water
- 1 Mexican chocolate disc or tablet broken into pieces (these may be flavored with almonds, spice, chiles, vanilla, or nothing but cacao)
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a boil. Add the chocolate (the quantity depends on how rich you like your hot chocolate), reduce the heat, and stir until the chocolate has melted. Remove from the heat and froth vigorously with a molinillo, a whisk, or a hand mixer until you have a nice, bubbly foam. Immediately pour into a mug.
Originally published January 24, 2011