Contains: Nightshades. Is: Quick and easy, savory, vegetarian, vegan, keto.
This one may well be an acquired taste. Simply: be forewarned! This is New World Aztec, Mayan, or Meso-American.
The various pre-Columbian tribes and nations that occupied current-day Mexico and Guatemala made use of the cacao bean we’ve come to know today as the confectioner’s delight — chocolate. One of those nations was comprised largely of the Aztec people, and as this particular preparation is associated with them in the literature both of the times and now – I’ve named this drink, “Aztec Chocolate Beverage”. But this or similar variants were common through a large part of central America prior to the coming of the Spaniards. (It was the Spaniards who brought the cacao bean back to Europe, where it got played with, and doctored, into so many new permutations, mostly of the sweet sort.
Theobroma cacao is a small evergreen tree which grows no taller than about 25 feet / 8 meters in height, and is native to Mesoamerica, surviving only in tropical regions. Much of what is grown these days has been transplanted to Africa (and intensively in the nation of Ivory Coast).
The inspirations here are ancient, some of the methodology is modern.
For the chili, I chose ground Guajillo. It has a low to moderate heat, and a wonderful ancillary flavor. For less heat, try Ancho, perhaps. Or for more, and limited subtlety, go Cayenne.
Mixing and frothing was obviously a bigger, time-consuming deal back in pre-Columbian and early Columbian times. I use modern tools today.
Prep Time: 5 minutes.
Cook Time: Enough to boil some water.
Rest Time: Not essential.
Serves: 1 serving each.
Cuisine: Mesoamerican. (Aztec, Mayan….)
Leftovers: You can, and re-heat. Or drink at room temperature, after stirring again.
MesoAmerican Chocolate Beverage
1 ounce / 30 grams unsweetened baking chocolate, shaved or grated, OR 1 ounce unsweetened cacao powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup / 160 mL boiling water
ground chili to taste (I used Guajillo chili powder, starting with 1/4 teaspoon, but feel free to start at 1/8th teaspoon.)
Grate the unsweetened chocolate (OR measure the unsweetened cacao powder into a bowl or perhaps a mortar), and cover with a small amount of boiling water. Mash the mixture into a paste, if you are using the baker’s chocolate bar. Add the rest of the water and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer or hand mixer until frothy. Add the chili powder, and mix further.
The chocolate may not totally dissolve, especially with the baking chocolate bar, and will have a grittiness to it. For a more authentic drink let the mixture cool to room temperature, and then beat further until frothy. I have a mini-frother for my coffee maker (should I want espresso) so I used that. Drink and enjoy, but do NOT expect sweetness!
If you wish to make more of a Spanish concoction, add some sugar and milk. This actually grows (slowly) on me! Although I listed this as one serving, you may want to try the one serving among several people at first. Those small Japanese tea cups might work nicely in such a case.
But, I stayed with the pre-Columbian South of the Border variant!
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