Waxing Poetic/Gastronomical and Three Recipes for Mexican Hot Chocolate

Liam and I had dinner this last Tuesday at Pho Vung Tau, my new favorite Vietnamese place in North Beach/Chinatown. (Dennis and I discovered it together a few weeks back…sigh.) With all that’s been going on in both our lives recently, I think we were both in need of some family time.

Over Seafood Chow Mein, Beef and Eggplant Saute and steaming cups of tea, we shared where we are right now. We’re kind of in similar places – both a little lost, both wondering where life will take us next—to a new job, back to Asia or to Peru even. Whatever we do and wherever we end up, I am grateful for the time we have together now.

I’ve posted a  poem Liam shared with me that night. (My brother, waxing all poetic—Love it.)

nagual speaks
written by tosi

here is natural darkness seen
lurking in waters beneath our dreams
whispering seduction to the schooling souls
incarnate sufferers new and old
nagual is speaking
yin and yang, all the same
play the game
float above


embrace the breeze and breath of the blissfully divine
within me, without me
life flows on

we are free

In honor of Liam’s poem, I decided I wanted to find something that inspired similar feelings in me but related to food (My turn to wax gastronomical–ha ha). And after brainstorming for a while, I came  up with Mexican Hot Chocolate—creamy, rich and completely comforting but at the same time dark, spicy, earthy and even magical.

I’m posting three recipes here. Though I can’t try them all right now, I like how each one varies in ingredients and method.

Mexican Hot Chocolate (adapted from a Tyler Florence recipe found on The Food Network)

A simpler version using Mexican chocolate—and the one I chose to try.


3 ounces (tablet or cone) Mexican chocolate or bittersweet chocolate

3 cups milk

2 tablespoons sugar

Pinch salt

Miniature marshmallows, for serving

6 cinnamon sticks (preferably Mexican canela), for serving


  1. Using a sharp knife, break up the chocolate into smaller pieces. In a saucepan, combine the chopped chocolate, milk, sugar and salt over medium-low flame. Heat and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the milk is very hot, but not boiling (ca. 10 minutes).
  2. Remove from the heat and froth the chocolate milk with a whisk or molinillo. Divide the hot chocolate among big mugs, top each with a few marshmallows and serve with the cinnamon sticks as stirrers.

Mayan Hot Chocolate (recipe from What’s Cooking America)

This one seems the most traditional…


2 cups boiling water

1 chile pepper (preferrably ancho), halved and seeds removed

5 cups light cream, whole or non-fat milk

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1-2 cinnamon sticks

8 oz bittersweet chocolate or 3 tablets Mexican chocolate, cut into 1/4-in pieces

2 tbsp sugar or honey, or to taste

1 tbsp ground almonds or hazelnuts

whipped cream, to top


  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add chile pepper to boiling water. Cook until liquid is reduced to 1 cup. Remove chile pepper, strain water and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine cream or milk, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick until bubbles appear around the edge. Reduce the heat to low.
  3. Add the chocolate and sugar (or honey). Whisk occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the sugar dissolves. Then, turn off the heat, remove the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick.
  4. Next, add the chile-infused water, a little at a time, tasting to make sure the flavor isn’t too strong. If the chocolate is too thick, dilute it by adding a little more milk.
  5. Serve in small cups and top with ground almonds or hazelnut and whipped cream.

Spicy Mayan Hot Chocolate (recipe from The Leftover Queen)

Most convenient version using ngredients you probably already have at home.

Serves 1-2.


8 oz whole milk

4 tbsp Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Powder

2 tsp Dutch processed cocoa powder

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg


  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk. Add the hot cocoa, the cocoa powder and spices and mix until blended.
  2. Serve in mugs and garnish with a dollop of whipped cream.
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