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Oct 20, 2008 10:46 AM

Atole season

Atole is a hot beverage we start seeing in our Mexican community about this time of year. It's traditional at Day of the Dead celebrations. I bought a cup of the pineapple flavor today, although it's really not cold enough yet for this deeply warming beverage. The chocolate flavor is called champurrado, and I'll get that one next time, if only to have the pleasure of saying the word! It can be thick like porridge or more watery, depending on how much cornmeal is used. I like it pourable, sort of milk-shake consistency. If anyone makes it at home, please do share your method on the Home Cooking board!

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  1. If you've never tried atole, you should try it - I usually get atoles from taco trucks. The flavor and consistency of atoles and champurrados varies a great deal from cook to cook, but I can't say I've ever had a bad one. Generally, atoles tend to be much less sweet than hot chocolate or arroz con leche. As Pat says, they are extremely emotionally comforting on a cold night.

    I recently had an atol de elote (corn atole) from a Salvadoran restaurant - it was made with fresh corn, and had an amazingly satisfying custardy texture and a sweet fresh corn flavor. I'd never had atole like that before - much richer and sweeter than the taco truck versions I've had.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Sarah Perry

      You were lucky to find someone using fresh corn. I've only run across canned niblets.

      Here's a photo of Salvadoran atol de piƱa, made with pineapple and flavored with pimiento (peppercorn).

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Oh, that looks wonderful! Thank you both! Around here (Westchester Cty., NY) you find them where tamales are made. Tamales are sort of hard to find and really good ones, even harder. I have to say that the consistency of the one I had was "slickety", i.e. semi-slimey, but I'm a fan of slime! I bought a large one, and had enough left over for just the right sized night-cap. I'll look for Salvadoran atol de pina next. Again, thanks!

        1. re: Pat Hammond

          As far as I could tell, this pineapple atol didn't have any corn in it --- masa, dried, canned, fresh or otherwise. Here's my post on the SF board,

          If that tamal was slick with real lard, i can get behind that!

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Me too, with regard to nice, lardy tamales. I was referring to my pineapple atole! It was just thick enough, like a good milkshake, but it did have a slickness that I found very appealing.

    2. Tamales and atole is my favorite breakfast for early, cold mornings in the highland coffee growing areas of Mexico. Walking vendors here in Colombia sell champurrado, but its not cold enough out to ever really enjoy it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Here's my old post on a place that called 'em "tamales smoothies".

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Funny how the meaning of words so often changed to one degree or another across the Spanish empire. As Sam probably knows, champurrado in Filipino cuisine is not a drink but a chocolate flavored rice porridge made with sticky rice and often eaten with little dried or fried fish. Among Charleston's Filipino community, I think it's a Christmas thing mainly and it's usually topped with condensed milk, at least in my experience.

        2. So where in Westcheser and/or 5 boros do you find the best atoles/champurrados? I have never tried one before.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mlzeats

            I've started a thread on the Tristate board: My stomping ground is New Rochelle. You could start your own query on the Outer Boroughs board.

          2. I had a champurrado from an organic Mexican food booth at the farmer's market Saturday and it wasn't at all what I expected. It was not at all sweet and tasted primarily of masa with some earthtones from the spices. It tasted eggy to me.

            I was expecting a thickened hot chocolate drink. The atole de nuez which I've had before was very sweet, like maple syrup had been added. I liked that, not so much the champurrado. Wrong expectations?

            1 Reply
            1. re: chocolatetartguy

              Sounds like you tried the champurrado from El Huarache Loco. I've had it once there, thought it was horrid, but figured it was a one-off. Please do post to the thread on the SF board.