Ignorant "gringa" needs to make some hot chocolate Feb. 2
Some of my coworkers from Mexico brought in a cake a few weeks ago and I got a plastic baby in one of my bites. Apparently, this means I have to make some special hot chocolate tomorrow (another lady is handling the tamales, bless her.)
So...how do I make this chocolate?
The toughest part is getting the right chocolate. Luckily, you appear to be in LA. Last time I was down there, I got some really tasty Oaxacan chocolate from Guelaguetza. It's exactly like the stuff you can get from Mayordomo and smaller chocolate makers in Oaxaca. So much better than Ibarra or Nestle.
They'll make it with water or milk in Mexico. Either way works. You just put the chocolate in a saucepan. Use about 16 oz liquid or less (depending on your tastes) for every 4 oz of chocolate. Bring it up to simmer or scald and whisk the chocolate to dissolve. I often microwave the disks first to start the process. It won't dissolve as fully as European chocolate. Traditionally at this point, you would use a molinillo to froth the drink. Or, even more traditionally, you would pour the drink several feet through the air from one container to another to aerate it. Whatever.
Add sugar to taste. A little dash of cinnamon over the top is nice, too.
I agree with this route. I would definitely use milk. The trick is the "batido"--get one on the tall chocolate pots and wooden utensil used for frothing the chocolate as it's heating and dissolving. Rub the handle between your palms like a maniac for an extended period of time until the grainy texture is gone and the chocolate is nice and frothy.
Here's a recipe from Epicurious that they would probably like:
SPICED HOT CHOCOLATE
6 cups whole milk
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
15 whole cardamom pods, crushed
12 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
2 whole star anise*
3/4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Bring first 9 ingredients to simmer in heavy large saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep 20 minutes. Add cocoa powder and vanilla. Bring to simmer, whisking until blended. Strain hot chocolate into 8-cup measuring cup; discard spices. Divide hot chocolate among 6 mugs.
*Brown star-shaped seedpods sold at Asian markets and some supermarkets.
Here's my quick version I don't use the anise :
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayanne pepper
1/8 tsp ground coriander
a few crushed cardamom pod seeds
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Add to milk in a pot. Then stir in:
a few drops vanilla
sugar to taste
You could also run to the store and buy either Abuelita or Ibarra chocolate bricks to dissolve in hot milk.