It all started with a visit to Old Mission Santa Barbara in late January. CA has 21 beautiful missions dotting the coastline from just north of San Francisco down to San Diego and even if you don’t LIKE old buildings, you’ll probably find something to enjoy on the the visit. The missions vary in size, but the hill-top ones I’ve visited in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara have mini-museums with exhibits on building materials and strategies and the inhabitant’s day to day lives.
You might think that this has very little to do with a recipe, but I LOVE food. And I’m ALSO equal opportunity. So, as I was reading about how Lincoln signed the order which returned the Missions to the Catholic Church after some corrupt Mexican governor leased the land out to private parties, all I could think about was Mexico. And how it was sunny but chilly outside and Mexicans make REALLY good hot chocolate and MAN. I needed to make some Mexican Hot Chocolate.
So, I sweetly bullied Alyssa into letting me pick this week’s recipe theme. Which wasn’t very nice of me considering I know that it costs like $14 for a single cherry in Tokyo. And cherries are MUCH more universal than SPECIFIC, REGIONAL CHOCOLATE PRODUCTS. If you haven’t read Alyssa’s account of a journey to a scary store and lots of wishing to acquire a reasonable substitute, you should probably do that RIGHT NOW. So that you can accurately COMPARE AND CONTRAST.
The hardest part of my journey to pick up Mexican hot chocolate was parking. And that’s only because the urban planner who decided on the parking lot layout for my local Safeway/Trader Joe’s market area probably just has a very low IQ or a very skewed idea about how cars work. It took me about 13 minutes to get a spot, but then I went inside and LO! Two full aisles of international products! I was starting to think that I had equal access to JAPANESE products at this point (probably not- no cookies and cream Kit Kats in sight)- but nothing made me feel like a spoiled CA foodie than spotting this:
Yes, folks. That IS an entire section of BRITISH FOOD PRODUCTS. Cadbury! Aero Bars! PG Tips! I love and respect all foods, but I think we can all agree that I live in a VERY special place when I can get lemon curd FROM BRITAIN for my tea within 2 miles of my house.
I’ll cut to the chase since I’ve ruined any element of suspense: I found Mexican hot chocolate within minutes. It was the Abuelita brand made by Nestle, which I actually haven’t used before. (I suspect this is only because I’ve always appreciated the Mayan-ish packaging on the Ibarra brand, but I’ve been told they’re extremely similar. Amazon carries Taza Chocolate which offers organic versions in different flavors like ginger and chili and coffee. I didn’t want to stray from the traditional cinnamon infused chocolate for now, but will probably test a few in the coming weeks.)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream (The original recipe notes that you can use half and half but I was making ice CREAM, not ice HALF AND HALF. Maybe next time.)
- another 1 cup heavy whipping cream (Can use half and half again, as above.)
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 disk and 2 triangles of mexican hot chocolate (like Abuelita or Ibarra)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Pinch salt
- Pinch cayenne (I’m leaving this item in because it sounds delicious, even though I didn’t use it. This was only because I didn’t OWN it in my spice cupboard. Note: Alyssa probably has cayenne in several varieties from several different regions in HER spice stash.)
- Pinch espresso powder or instant coffee (Funny story: I drink tea at home because it’s easier to make. So I didn’t HAVE any sort of powder or coffee. I ended up buying those Starbucks Via instant coffee packages and using a pinch from one of those.)
- 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract