How to cook with Mexican Ibarra chocolate?
After reading some recommendations for Mexican chocolate, I stumbled across some Ibarra brand "Authentic Mexican Chocolate" in a Church Ave. shop in Kensington, Brooklyn NY. $2.50 for a 1 lb 2 oz hexagonal yellow box.
I recall the chocolate is made with whole beans, not by combining separate cocoa + added cocoa butter products. So the Ibarra chocolate is not creamy at all and has a simply fruity taste which goes well with the cinnamon which is already mixed in. Also, since the sugar is not fully blended into the chocolate, it has a grainy texture.
Any recommendations how to cook with it? Bake with it? Wondering if the fat content (only 5g out of 23g)will affect ability to substitute for other kinds of chocolate. I can imagine this blending nicely into a prune cake.
I made brownies with it once, substituting it for unsweetened baker's chocolate, and decreasing the rest of the sugar substantially, and thought they were pretty good. They did have that grainy sugar texture, but I liked that. I used the directions on the side to make hot chocolate, too, and loved it... note to self, stop by the latin market this week.
The Mexican chocolate most often found here NOB is mostly for various Mexican beverages, i.e. hot chocolate, chocolate atole, champurrado, etc. It is not impossible to cook with, but requires different handling and methods. You'll need to do a little experimenting and trail and error to find out what works with the recipe you're using.
The extra sugar in a tablet of Mexican chocolate *usually* doesn't need to be compensated for, however, if you don't want to make the final product overly sweet, you can reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe by 1 +/- tablespoons/tablet of chocolate. Exactly how much depends upon your tastes.
Getting rid of the gaininess requires a little effort. The key to getting rid of the graininees, or seriously reducing it, is to dissolve it, which can be easier said than done with Mexican chocolate. The first step is to chop the chocolate into small to fine pieces. A lot of the sugar will render out, which is what you want. Place all the choclate and the sugar that came out of it in a small bowl.
You have a couple of options for dissolving the chocolate and sugar, the microwave is not one of them. If the chocolate doesn't need to be melted, the easiest thing to do is just pour the liquid ingredients (including eggs, vanilla, milk, water, juice, liquor) over the chopped chocolate and let it stand for about 10-20 mintues stirring occassionally. The sugar from the chocolate will eventually dissovle into the liquid and then you just add it to the dry ingredients according to the recipe directions. This works well for recipes like pecan pie.
If the Mexican chocolate needs to be melted for a recipe (like a brownie), it's a little trickier. Mixing hot liquid with the Mexican chocolate will dissolved the sugar, but can cause the chocolate to sieze. Sometimes you can get it smoothed out by continuing to heat and stir, sometimes you can't. Or, if the overall amount of liquid in the recipe is small (like for a cookie) you can melt some regular chocolate and when it is very hot, add it to the Mexican chocolate, stirring to incorporate and then continuing over a low heat until the Mexican chocolate is melted and the extra sugar dissolved.
Mexican chocolate melts extremely well in water or milk because, well, that's kind of what it was designed to do. Heating the liquid in the recipe first, like you were going to make hot chocolate, and then adding the Mexican chocolate to dissove both the sugar and the chocolate works well. You will probably have to cool the liquid to room temp., or refrigerate, before proceeding with the recipe, but this will eliminate the graininess. Strain the liquid before using to remove any particles that didn't dissolve all the way.
Ibarra and Abuelita are the 2 most common brands of Mexican chocolate found in the U.S. While they are serviable, neither is particularly good because of their high sugar content. It is possible to get better quality Mexican chocolate, however, on-line. Susana Trilling's chocolate de metate is available from Zingermann's at about $15/pound. MayorDomo chocoalte from Oaxaca is available through Chocosphere.com.
Thanks for the great note Gayla - TONS of great information.
I have been using Ibarra to make hot chocolate. I first simmer the milk with a few whole cloves, some nutmeg, and a few dried red pepper flakes (I have also added fresh orange zest if I have it). Meanwhile, I pulse the chocolate in the mini food processor until I have powder. Once the milk / spice mixture has simmered for a few minutes, I add the ground chocolate and simmer for a few more minutes. The mixture is then strained and pulsed with an immersion blender until a frothy topping is achieved. This makes a great drink in my opinion - Sabrosa!
i haven't tried these, but the cookie special report on chowhound (http://www.chowhound.com/writing/cookies.html linked below) has a chocolate chip cookie recipe with chopped up mexican chocolate instead of chocolate chips.)
scroll down to the recipes or search for "Ibarra" for the recipe/variation.