Ok, let’s talk hot chocolate. I love a good hot chocolate in hand while meandering through the St. Paul Winter Carnival. But what if you could kick your cocoa up a notch? What if your cocoa could not only be silky, chocolaty, hot goodness in a mug, but it could also be flavored with a hint of cinnamon and warm your throat and your belly with the little zing of dried chiles? I’m here to tell you, it can. And it’s delicious.
I live in Minnesota, which means that in order to truly call yourself Minnesotan, you have to make the most out of every season. That doesn’t mean that you get to stay inside and hibernate under 50 blankets when the temperatures hit freezing (sometimes that happens though, let’s be real). There are a few things that we Minnesotans might consider “essential gear” for the winter months. If you wanna be able to hang, you gotta get with it.
- Some kind of parka – Probably something fur hooded, down to at least your knees and down filled.
- Winter boots ya’ll! – Perhaps an old pair of Sorels handed down by your cousin.
- All wheel drive – Snow (Nuff said.)
- Hat and mittens – Not your cute little beanie and open fingered gloves. Nope, I mean a serious winter stocking cap and some Thinsulate lined mittens that you probably picked up at the church craft show.
- A thermos filled with some kind of warm, delicious beverage – Enter, Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate…
Steep chile peppers and cinnamon sticks in hot milk. Then add the steamed milk to a mixture of cocoa powder, sugar, a little salt and a pinch of cayenne powder. Top it with marshmallows or whipped cream and you’ve got Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate. Yum! Be sure you don’t skimp on the cocoa powder. Get a good one, it’ll make all the difference in the taste of this delicious beverage. I use this organic/fair trade dark chocolate cocoa powder which I ordered on Amazon.
Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate
2 1/2 c. Milk
3 Cinnamon Sticks
2-3 Dried Chile Peppers
3 tbs. Cocoa Powder
3 tbs. Raw Sugar
1 pinch Salt
1/8 tsp Ground Cayenne (or more if you want more kick)
In a small sauce pan, heat the milk to a simmer over medium heat (do not boil). Once you can see bubbles appearing around the edges of the pan, turn burner down to low and add in the cinnamon sticks and chile peppers. Allow to steep on low for at least 15 minutes. In the meantime, in a separate bowl combine sugar, cocoa powder, salt and cayenne. Make sure to squish down all of the cocoa lumps, you can also sift the cocoa powder if it is really lumpy. Once your milk has steeped sufficiently, remove the cinnamon and chiles and slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the powder mixture. Make sure you pause occasionally to whisk all of the ingredients together. Pour your hot chocolate into mugs and top with your favorite cocoa toppings like marshmallows or (in our house) cinnamon flavored whipped cream. Cheers!!