Mexican Hot Chocolate
I volunteered to make dessert for a Feliz Navidad-themed party. My friend says she wants "authentic" Mexican, so I bought her the Rick Bayless book.
My plan is to make Mexican wedding cookies and Mexican hot chocolate.
Having read the recipe for MHC in Bayless's book, I am now torn. Originally, I was just thinking rich hot choc. w/ a hint of cinnamon and or chili. Now, I am unsure....
Should I hunt down real Mexican chocolate bars?
Where? Whole Foods does not appear to have them. We have tiendsas in town, but they don't look "upscale". I don't want the Mexican equivilent of Hersheys.
Can I just froth it with a whisk? There's no way I'm putting a hot liquid in a blender at someone else's house.
I really wanted to try to make something like Jacque Torres hot choc. that would be very rich and served in small delicate tea cups along w/ the cookies. But I don't want to embarrass my authentic hostess.
BTW, there will be around 15 guests, all girls.
Please give me some advice!
The absolute best hot chocolate I've ever had was at Cafe Azul y Oro in Mexico City, and it was made with water. It was thick, rich and utterly satisfying.
Cafe Azul y Oro is owned by chef Ricardo Munoz Zurita. He has his chocolate ground for him to his specifications by a chocolate house in Oaxaca (I suspect MayorDomo but I'm not 100% sure on that). It's a delicious blend of chocolate, almond, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar.
MayoDomo chocolate is readily available in the U.S. from http://www.chocosphere.com . I've used it to make Mexican hot chocolate here NOB by heating milk with a couple of cloves, a few hot chile flakes and a couple dashes of orange oil,then adding the Mexican chocolate tablet, stirring to dissolve then frappeing in the blender.
If you really want to guild the lily, I second the recommendation for Susanna's chocolate de metate, it really is fabulous. And the recommendation for champurrado is a pretty good one too.
It's true, the Ibarra or Abulita "cakes" of chocolate make a very, very sweet chocolate, with a hint of cinnamon and almond. I think you could get a similar but better flavor using a mixture of good quality bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder, sugar to taste, and a pinch of cinnamon plus a little almond extract or almond liqueur. Or use something like JT's Wicked Hot Chocolate. If it's good, it's good, and that's what counts.
In my travels in mexico (not exhautive by any means) nor in eating at many, many mexican establishments here in the States, I've actually never had chile infused hot chocolate. Certainly, I've had chocolate used in many other dishes (moles, etc.), but hot chocolates, whether it be straight or in champurrado, etc., I've always had it sweet without any chile.
At home, I love to mix in a bit of chipotle or something, but I don't think it's incredibly common to do that in Mexico, even though they have other chile-chocolate combos. For sweets, they seem to keep it sweet. I'm absolutely sure there are exceptions... this is just what I've experienced.
Also, as to brands... people may disparage ibarra, but all my mexican friends, neighbors growing up and inlaws use either ibarra or nestle (the mexican chocolate nestle, in the octogonal box, like ibarra). So it may not be super high quality, but I'll bet it is used ten fold over anything else. If you have access to better, go for it, but don't hold back if it's all you have.
One thing to keep in mind with ibarra and other similar mexican chocolates is that they are already sweetened (as well as laced with some cinnamony flavors, etc.). So in hot chocolate, be sure not to add any more sugar. Mixed with the right amount of milk, I find it a great balance - not too sweet.
Now... after all that tangent... here's what I'd do if I were in your position... I'd make champurrado. It's mexican hot chocolate (ibarra works great) thickened with masa. It's wonderful. If you want, you can certainly lace it with some ground chile. Taste wonderful.
Oh, and yes, you can definitely use a whisk. No problem. Works great.
Ibarra is what my grandmother used. She'd melt the chocolate with some milk, spices & some vanilla. Sugar was added to taste. Keep in mind that authentic Mexican chocolate is not for everone. It is a bitter chocolate. I remember not liking it when I was a kid. I wanted the one my mom made. The Americanized Hershey cocoa kind.
I found this link with some hot drink recipes using Ibarra
Gourmetsleuth also carries Mayordomo chocolate from Oaxaca, which is one of the best. I use it often in the winter for hot chocolate. One that is even better is Susana Trilling's handmade Mexican chocolate from her cooking school outside Oaxaca; however, it's about $18 a pound and only available from Zingermanns.
By "real Mexican chocolate" do you mean Ibarra? I wouldn't use this. I was given a box by a friend so I made the hot chocolate following the instructions on the box. It's very, very sweet. I couldn't drink it without adding a lot more unsweetened chocolate and cocoa and reheating it with more milk to take the edge off the sugar. I tried serving it to guests who had the same reaction. I think you're better off blending your own.