Atoles are rich drinks usually thickened with masa, and flavored with spices, fruits, and in this case, chocolate. Such drinks have an ancient history and are still made in traditional homes and also sold in market food stalls. Champurrado is served steaming hot. Sweet tamales or Mexican pan dulce (sweet bread) are typical accompaniments. In the United States, masa harina and Mexican chocolate can be found in many supermarkets or in Mexican grocery stores. Even though Mexican chocolate already contains sugar and cinnamon, the atole needs extra sweetness and flavor from Mexican brown sugar (piloncillo) or regular brown sugar and additional cinnamon.
- 1/4 cup masa harina (flour for corn tortillas)
- 2 cups cold water
- 1 tablet (2 ounces) Mexican chocolate, broken into pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (Mexican canela or Ceylon variety preferred)
- 2 small cones piloncillo, or 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk
- In a medium bowl, whisk to blend the masa harina with about 1/2 cup of the water. Add remaining water and whisk very well. Let stand about 5 minutes, whisking 3 to 4 times. Pour the masa-water through a fine-mesh strainer into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil over low heat, whisking constatntly, 6 to 8 minutes, or until thickened.
- Add the chocolate pieces, cinnamon, and sugar to the masa mixture and continue whisking constantly until the chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes. Keep the heat low or medium-low to prevent scorching. Add the milk gradually, whisking all the while, and cook until the champurrado is creamy and steaming hot. Serve at once.