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{Dairy-Free or Not} Mexican Hot Chocolate – With Spice!

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Highlighting Spices: Cinnamon & Chipotle pepper


Chocolate Caliente {Mexican Hot Chocolate, with a kick}

Last weekend I had the kitchen all to myself. Mr. Wonderful was out of town and I had the whole day to get the kitchen messy and no one to stare me down about it ;-). Don’t get me wrong, I was a little sad that he wasn’t there to share this delicious treat with me. That Saturday morning was cold and dreary and the only thing that made it better was this Mexican hot chocolate, which I adapted to my dietary needs and made Dairy-Free! I’m not a vegan or anything I just don’t drink regular milk anymore, and since this traditional drink calls for milk, I used almond instead. Feel free to use any milk that suits your fancy, it won’t matter as long as the milk is unsweetened. This weather makes me want to crawl up under a blanket and watch old movies all day while sipping on some chocolate con leche caliente… mmmmm


Use ground or whole cinnamon.

The tradition of drinking hot cocoa dates back to the Aztec times in the old city of Tenochtitlán (currently known as Mexico City, el DF or Chilangolandia), the latter is more of a provincial insult, avoid using it. Back to the hot cocoa story… Back before the Spaniards arrived in Tenochtitlán, the Aztecs used ground cocoa beans and chili peppers creating a paste that would then be mixed with water to make the frothy drink known as chocolatl. This was a sort of sacred drink that was often reserved for special occasions in celebrating the Gods. After their arrival, the Spaniards updated this drink version by removing the spicy peppers and introducing spices like cinnamon and vanilla. They also added ground almonds, cane sugar and traded the water for milk, then served it with a side of small pox… I couldn’t help myself*. That is how the traditional Mexican hot chocolate drink we ♥ today was born. If you ever get the chance to buy the prepared chocolate bars, like Chocolate Ibarra they sell at many markets, you will see that the main ingredients are: cocoa, sugar and cinnamon, some even have ground almonds too. But you can also make your own version at home. It takes a little more time but at least you know exactly what’s going into your Mexican hot chocolate.

{*Disclaimer: I like Spanish people and Spain, simply pointing out historical facts here. :-)}


Ground chipotle peppers

Since many chocolate bars and chips have milk ingredients, I normally stock a small bag of Dairy-Free chocolate chips in my pantry. You can also use 100% cocoa, if that makes it easier, just know that the higher the cocoa content of your chocolate, the more bitter it will taste. If you use pure cocoa just add more honey and use less cocoa. It might take you a few tries until you get the exact ratio of cocoa and honey.

Now for the spicy kick… The Spaniards took out the chilies, probably because they were wimpy, I kid I kid! If you want to make this recipe with the “Aztec twist” you’ll want to add just a tiny bit of dried pepper powder like Chipotle, which is what I used. I bought the dried peppers and ground them to make the powder. Again, it was a good thing Mr. Wonderful was out for the day because the whole house smelled spicy! I had to crack open some windows. So just beware if you decide to grind peppers at home, you might want to do it while no one else is home or when it’s nice outside. Or you can just shimmy over to your nearest market and buy some cayenne or ground chipotle.

A quick note about  the traditional frothy foam that accompanies the Mexican hot chocolate – If you want to make it as authentic as possible you will need to invest patience, time and about $18 to get it. In Mexico many people use what we call a “molinillo” to achieve the perfect foam. But I use a practical lazy-man, battery-operated milk frother instead.

Enough chatter, it’s cold out here!



The rich foam in a traditional Mexican hot chocolate occurs after a constant churning with what we call a “molinillo”. You can also use a regular whisk, but I use this practical lazy-man, battery-operated milk frother instead.


Mexican Hot Chocolate

Mexican HOT Chocolate {Dairy-Free or Not} – With Chili Pepper

Serves: 1 ~ Prep time: 5 minutes

♥ INGREDIENTES {ingredients}

1 1/2 Cup almond milk {or any unsweetened milk}

2 ounces (or less if you prefer) Dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate {I use these chips}

1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

1/4 tsp Ground cinnamon or about 1/2 a stick

1/2 TBSP honey

1/4 tsp Ground chipotle pepper

♥ MODO de PREPARACIÓN {preparation}

1. HEAT the milk in a small sauce pan over medium heat for about 30 seconds.

2. ADD the chocolate, vanilla extract, cinnamon and honey.

3. STIR the ingredients together until all the chocolate has melted. Be careful not to scorch the milk. If it starts to boil, turn the heat down so it just simmers.

4. ADD the ground chipotle and turn the burner off.

5. FROTH away with your favorite tool.

6. POUR into your favorite mug, wait a few seconds so you don’t burn your mouth, then enjoy!

QUESTION: What’s your favorite cold weather drink?


Dairy-Free Mexican Hot Chocolate – With Spice


About Maribel

Bilingual digital media and marketing pro | blogger| foodie | fashionista | philanthropist #NotTheCoolGirl

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