Favorite brand of Mexican hot chocolate?
On a side note, what's everyone's favorite brand of Mexican hot chocolate. The only thing I've really found locally is Ibarra, which is tasty, but very, very difficult to break apart.
Here in Patzcuaro we have a handmade chocolate tablet called Amargo. It's excellent.
Chopping the chocolate on a cutting board is easier that breaking it.
We really like Ibarra. If you have a heavy chef's knife, use steady pressure and the little triangles should come apart. I'm interested to hear about other brands, though!
Mexican tablet chocolate is really hard, I don't think there's any way around that. I also like 2 scored pieces for my mug of hot chocolate, so, breaking the large tablet into 4ths works well, and is relativley easy to do. Ibarra's flavor is the best, IMHO. I bought Abuleta, and there's a slight hint of flavor i'm not fond of. I know, I should give it another chance- that way I can pin-point my issue with it. Carlos V is pretty good, as well.
Ibarra is widely available and very good. I prefer it to Abuelita. Another brand that I've found readily and that I like is Popular (pronounced in Spanish pop--oo--LAHR, or close to that). Popular is sold in thin slabs about the size of a large Hersey's bar and is easier to cut.
You can also buy a more boutiqey Mexican chocolate through Zingerman's of Ann Arbor, MI. Some Americano in Oaxaca is mixing it up and selling it from what I understand.
The tablets shouldn't be too hard to slice with a good knife... and if they aren't too old. Find a market with lots of turnover. Of the mainstream, industrial brands... Ibarra, Abuelita etc., all mediocre. The best of the lot would be Mayordomo from Oaxaca (they also make decent moles).
But no self respecting, chocolate foodie in Southern Mexico (the cradle of chocolate) would drink the tablet stuff... it must be made from whole cacao beans.
Of course... I am not willing to put in so many hours & hard physical labor for a morning cup of xocolatl... so my short cut, for higher quality using readily available ingredients in the U.S.:
> quality cacao powder such as Vahlrona or similar brand
> or a decent baking chocolate bar
> 70% + chocolate bar
> high quality dark chocolate chips
Mix the chocolate with water... bring to an almost boil, simmer. Add your preferred combination of spices (high quality vanilla from Veracruz, true cinammon sticks, dried chile peppers, allspice etc.,)... sweeten to taste & voila.
If you want to recreat the Abuelita / Ibarra flavors well then you need milk, sugar & cinammon. I like making a more traditional hot chocolate with good vanilla & just enough sugar so that it isn't excessively bitter. Another variation I like is the just add Xtabentun (Mayan honey annissette liquer).