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Classic Maya Hot Chocolate Recipe

This recipe is courtesy of David Sterling, Executive Chef and Founder of Los Dos Cooking School in Merida Mexico.

For centuries, the Mayas controlled the lucrative production and distribution of kakaw (cocoa) throughout Mesoamerica. Throughout those centuries, cocoa was processed into a beverage - not bonbons. Cocoa beans were fermented, sun dried, roasted and ground into a thick paste. The paste was then formed into a tortilla-shaped patty. Diary was not available until the Spanish introduced cattle into the New World, so the patty was dissolved in water. The chocolate beverage was traditionally served hot or cold, savory or sweet. When savory, it might have included such ingredients as chile, salt, and achiote. When sweet it included allspice, vanilla and, or course, one of our local honeys. The resulting chocolate beverage was poured back and forth between two gourds or pots to aerate it and produce a froth. This recipe includes several of the traditional ingredients and is served sweet and hot. We recommend using Tajonal honey from Yucatan; it's stronger flavor holds its own well against the chocolate. Additionally it would have been on of the most commonly available honeys in ancient times. While the cornstarch may seem anomalous, in fact the Mayas frequently thicken their chocolate beverage with ground maize.

ingredients
3 cups whole milk
1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)

8 oz bittersweet (70-80%) chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder (or to taste) 1 tablespoon Honey
directions
1. In a large saucepan, heat the milk and cream until simmering around the edges. For a slightly thicker drink, place one ladle of the hot mil mixture into a small bowl and add the optional cornstarch. Whisk until incorporated, then whisk cornstarch mixture back into the saucepan. Continue whisking over medium heat until mixture thickens. Reduce heat and simmer - checking and stirring frequently to avoid scorching.

2. Add remaining ingredients to the hot milk mixture. Continue whisking over medium heat until chocolate is completely dissolves and a froth appears. Chick flavorings and serve immediately.

Serves 8-10