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Mexican Hot Chocolate

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Mexican hot chocolate, known as chocolate caliente in Spanish, is a heartwarming beverage that's deeply rooted in Mexico's rich cultural heritage. This delicious drink is not just your regular cup of cocoa; it's a rich, frothy concoction that's full of history, tradition, and a unique blend of flavors that sets it apart from its counterparts around the world.

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Whether you're savoring it on a cold winter's day or as part of a festive celebration, Mexican hot chocolate offers a delicious way to experience the cultural heritage of Mexico. Let's embark on a flavorful journey to discover the magic behind this unique treat.

Top view of Mexican hot chocolate served.

What makes Mexican hot chocolate different?

Mexican hot chocolate, also known as “chocolate caliente,” is a traditional drink deeply rooted in Mexican culture. Unlike the classic hot chocolate we know and love, this version uses coarsely ground chocolate discs called “tabletas de chocolate.” These tablets are made from roasted cacao beans, sugar, cinnamon, and other spices like nutmeg or allspice. The result is a unique blend of sweet, spicy, and bitter flavors that creates a more complex and intense taste compared to regular hot chocolate.

History of Mexican Hot Chocolate

Chocolate has been an integral part of Mexican culture for centuries. The Mayans and Aztecs were the first to cultivate cacao beans and use them in beverages for religious ceremonies and as a symbol of wealth. It wasn't until the Spanish conquest in the 1500s that chocolate became widely popular in Europe.

The Mayans and Aztecs believed that cacao was a sacred gift from the gods and even used it as currency. The name “chocolate” comes from the Nahuatl word “xocolātl,” which means “bitter water.” This reflects how the Aztecs used to prepare their chocolate drink by mixing it with water and spices. It wasn't until the Spanish added sugar and milk that the sweet and creamy version we know today was born.

What makes the flavor of Mexican hot chocolate unique?

Mexican hot chocolate stands out for its unique blend of flavors. Unlike traditional hot chocolate, which is primarily sweet, Mexican hot chocolate combines sweetness with a hint of spice. The chocolate used in Mexican hot chocolate is typically dark, contributing to a deep, rich flavor profile.

A key characteristic of Mexican hot chocolate is the addition of spices. Most notably, cinnamon is often included, giving the drink a warm, aromatic note. Some recipes also incorporate other flavors, such as nutmeg and chili. These spices create a complex taste experience that is sweet, spicy, and slightly earthy.

Moreover, Mexican hot chocolate can also include additional natural flavors like coffee and almond. Some recipes even use unsweetened cocoa powder and a touch of bittersweet chocolate to enhance the depth of the chocolate flavor.

Top view of Mexican hot chocolate ingredients

What are the ingredients needed to make Mexican hot chocolate?

This recipe can be prepared in 5 minutes. The cook time is  6-8 minutes. The following are the ingredients you are going to need for 2 servings.

  • Milk: This is the backbone of your hot chocolate, providing a smooth and creamy base that carries all the other flavors.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: This ingredient is non-negotiable if you want to achieve that rich chocolate flavor. Remember, it's hot chocolate, after all!
  • Brown Sugar: To counterbalance the bitter cocoa powder, brown sugar is added to sweeten the hot chocolate in just the right amount.
  • Ground cinnamon – give it a warm, sweet-spicy flavor that pairs perfectly with the richness of the chocolate.
  • Star Anise: This might be a surprise ingredient, but it's worth the adventure. Star anise offers a distinctive sweet and spicy flavor profile to your hot chocolate.
  • Vanilla Extract: More than just sweet, aromatic essence, this extract enhances the depth of the chocolate in every sip.
  • Chili Powder: Want to add some excitement to your drink? Chili powder offers a spicy kick that surprisingly complements the sweetness of the chocolate.
  • Ground cayenne (optional): If you're up for the heat, this is an optional addition. Cayenne pepper will add an extra layer of fiery spiciness to your hot chocolate.
  • Bittersweet chocolate, chopped: This is the secret to a deeply flavorful hot chocolate. As the bittersweet chocolate pieces melt, they enrich the drink with an irresistible depth of flavor.

How to make Mexican hot chocolate

Now that you have gathered your ingredients, it is time to make Mexican hot chocolate. Follow these step-by-step instructions to create an authentic Mexican hot chocolate experience at home:

  1. Grab a medium-sized saucepan and place it over a medium to high heat source.
  2. Then, throw in the milk, cocoa powder, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, star anise, vanilla extract, and your pinches of chili powder and ground cayenne (if you decide to use it).
  3. Once the ingredients are in the saucepan, take a whisk and stir everything together. Continue stirring until your mixture is heated all the way through.
  4. Now, add the chopped bittersweet chocolate to the mixture in your saucepan.
  5. Continue stirring until the bittersweet chocolate completely melts into your mixture, which should now be hot. Just be cautious not to let it boil.
  6. Pour the hot chocolate evenly into two mugs.
  7. If you'd like, you can add a dollop of whipped cream on top of each mug, followed by a sprinkle of cinnamon for extra flavor.
  8. If you're in the mood for a spicy kick, sprinkle a little ground cayenne on top of the whipped cream.
  9. Now it's time to sit back and enjoy your homemade Mexican hot chocolate!
overview image of Mexican Hot Chocolate

Tips For Making This Recipe

Looking to whip up some delicious, flavourful Mexican Hot Chocolate? Here are some tips to help you master the recipe.

  1. Always opt for high-quality ingredients. This is particularly important for our stars of the show – cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate. The richness of your chocolate plays a huge role in the outcome of the recipe.
  2. Patience is key when heating your milk and chocolate mixture. Let it heat gently and ensure it doesn't come to a boil. This will aid in achieving the perfect smooth consistency.
  3. Stirring your mixture continuously is essential – you don't want any lumps of chocolate left. Make sure it's completely melted to provide a seamless, velvety finish to your hot chocolate.
  4. Spice it up or down; it's totally up to you. Whether you prefer a hint of cinnamon or a good kick from the chili powder or cayenne, adjust the spices to suit your taste buds.
  5. Indulge and top your hot chocolate with a lush dollop of whipped cream, and don't forget that sprinkle of cinnamon on top for an added flavor boost.
  6. Feeling adventurous? Go ahead and add some ground cayenne to your whipped cream topping. It's a match made in heaven for those who prefer a spicy kick.
square image of Mexican Hot Chocolate

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes

Mexican Hot Chocolate is a rich and creamy beverage known for its unique blend of dark chocolate, cinnamon, and chili. It's a warming treat often enjoyed during the colder months or festive occasions in Mexico.


  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of chili powder
  • pinch of ground cayenne, optional
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped


  1. Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, and add milk, cocoa powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, star anise, vanilla extract, chili powder, and cayenne pepper (if using). 
  2. Stir the mixture with a whisk until heated through, add the chopped chocolate.
  3. Continue to stir until the chocolate has completely melted and the mixture is hot, but DO NOT boil.
  4. Divide the hot chocolate into 2 mugs and serve, top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Also, if you like it spicy, add some group cayenne on top of the whipped cream.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 370Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 127mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 6gSugar: 23gProtein: 13g

These nutritional calculations might not be accurate. Please speak with a licensed nutritionist to assist you.

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