Chocolate is one of the greatest gifts of Mexico to the world. Cooking with Mexican chocolate is easy and delicious. It can be used in savory and sweet dishes, like cakes, ice cream, moles, and chile based sauces.
To the indigenous people of Mexico chocolate was known as xocolatl, and it was thought to be a gift from the gods. The cacao beans were ground into a paste and mixed with water to make a bitter, yet creamy beverage. The beans were also valued as currency, and they were commonly used in rituals and special celebrations. After the conquest, the Spaniards took chocolate to Spain where milk and sugar were added to it, thus becoming something very similar to what we know and love today.
So what’s the big deal with Mexican chocolate? Currently, what we know as Mexican chocolate is sold in small round tablets and is used to make hot chocolate (the beverage). To make these tablets, cacao beans are ground with sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon, and then packed into a mold and formed into a tablet. The use of whole cacao beans gives this chocolate a deeper and richer flavor profile than other commercially made chocolates. Luckily, there are many high quality brands of Mexican chocolate available nowadays. Check your local grocery store or your nearest Mexican market to find some.
Cooking with Mexican chocolate can add a special touch to your favorite dishes like:
Mexican chocolate and cake, what else could be better? To add Mexican chocolate to your baked goods, simply chop it finely with a knife or place it in the food processor, then add to the batter. (If you are substituting Mexican chocolate for traditional chocolate, you will have to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe since Mexican chocolate has a high sugar content.) You can make this chocolate avocado cake or this chocolate banana cake.
Mole, unlike what you might have heard is not a savory chocolate sauce. It is a complex, chile based sauce, that happens to have chocolate in it, and Mexican chocolate is definitely the best chocolate to use for this dish. When making your mole, add a couple of pieces of the chocolate tablet into the sauce and stir well to dissolve. Try it with this delicious mole poblano.
Paletas bring back so many memories of sticky hot summers, and the cool relief of an ice cold Mexican popsicle. The flavors of paletas available in Mexico are almost innumerable, but one of the best ones, without a doubt, is chocolate. To use Mexican chocolate for paletas: heat up your milk of choice with the chocolate, let it dissolve, and then use this mix as a base for your paletas. You can do this with these Mexican chocolate paletas with a touch of cinnamon.
Did you know chili isn’t actually Mexican? It is clearly inspired by the flavors of Mexico, but it actually originated in Texas. Mexican chocolate is the perfect addition to the classic flavor of chili. To use it, break off a piece of a chocolate tablet, add it to your chili and stir. Try this spicy chili with Mexican chocolate.
Just like paletas, there are so many delicious flavors of ice cream in Mexico. Some flavors can be unconventional like corn, avocado, and rose petal. However, you can’t go wrong with the classic flavor of chocolate. To use Mexican chocolate for ice cream, heat up your milk of choice with the chocolate, let it dissolve, and then use this mix as a base for your ice cream. Try it with this Mexican chocolate-banana ice cream.
Sweet tamales might not be very well known outside of Mexico, but they are a scrumptious treat. Some of the classic flavors available are strawberry, lime, pineapple, and of course chocolate. To add Mexican chocolate to your tamales, chop it finely in your food processor and add it to your batter. Try this sweet chocolate tamales with chopped pecans.