Out my window it’s snowing, so I thought I’d share an idea to spice up your love life, or at least your taste buds, while you do or do not cuddle with your honey this Valentine’s weekend—up to you.
Amigos, you know that I’m a wannabe Mexican these days, and I’ve loved learning about different Mexican traditions that we can incorporate into our familia. (Henceforward please imagine me saying any Spanish words with an over the top accent like an obnoxious newscaster. Comprende?)
One thing I LOVE about Mexico is café de olla—literally translated, jar or pot coffee. It is delicious on its own, requiring no extra sugar, cream, nada. It’s made in earthenware clay pots, and the flavor is coffee with some brown sugar, cinnamon, and—I just learned—orange zest.
The best place to get it is at a side of the road place on the huge highway into Mexico City. Guys, I have no expertise on this. When we were on our honeymoon, Tio Manuel pulled up at the place on the side of the road. You want a place that’s really cold, enough that you don’t take off your jacket. And you want a place where the abuela is sitting in the back room, pretty clearly visible from the “restaurant section,” watching either her “stories” or a futbol match.
You may not have a Tio Manuel to hook you up like that. In DC, we’ve had café de olla at Oyamel, and highly recommend it. (Overall Oyamel is pricier, but authentic, Mexican food—suegra approved!)
So, the way I Americanize those flavors and call them my own is not with coffee, but by making Mexican hot chocolate to keep around and give people at Christmas. My recipe for a big batch of Mexican hot chocolate is below, but you could try adding cinnamon and a tad of chili powder to your regular hot chocolate. Another good option is the Abuelita brand of hot chocolate (which Pioneer Woman wrote about here), probably available at your grocery store and certainly at your local tienda. And here is a recipe I haven’t tried for the coffee—could be an important cultural project for a snow day.
Stay cozy and spicy! ¡Adios! ¡Olé! ¡Vaya con Dios! And . . . time to quit.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
To make 4+ servings of powder mix (or for a big batch, 30+, measurements are in parentheses), mix together:
5 tablespoons sugar (2.5 cups)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (1 cup)
2 tablespoons (heaping) cocoa (1+ cup)
2 teaspoons cinnamon (1/3 cup)
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (2 teaspoons)
1/8 teaspoon salt (1 teaspoon)
Optional: To add vanilla flavor, I sometimes include chocolate chips that I soaked in vanilla extract. Or you could add a drop or two of vanilla when you heat your milk.
For one serving: heat one cup of milk on stove top. At any time, add two big spoonfuls of mix and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat as soon as milk simmers. Serve and enjoy! ¡Buen provecho!