Sunday, February 9, 2014

World Beverages: Champurrado

In addition to tea, I am also interested in the preparation and presentation of other beverages from around the world.  In sharing my own experiences, I hope you may also be inspired to experience the world in a cup!

My first recipe attempt was Champurrado (Mexican Hot Chocolate).  A friend was visiting who happened to be quite enthusiastic about the drink and I wanted to treat them to the homemade variety.  The result was a sweet, flavorful, spicy, and perfect to warm up on a cold winter day.

3 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 whole star anise
1/4 cup masa harina (finely ground corn flour)
2 cups milk
3 ounces piloncillo, finely chopped
1/2 disc Ibarra chocolate, finely chopped

Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.
Add cinnamon sticks and star anise to water and remove from heat, steeping for 10 minutes.
Remove cinnamon sticks and star anise from the pot and return to low heat.
Slowly add masa harina to the water, 1/3 cup at a time, stirring until completely dissolved.
Add milk, piloncillo, and Ibarra chocolate, stirring until completely dissolved.
Place a whisk or molinillo (recommended), into the pot and roll the handle between your palms to froth the drink before it is served.


  • After reading a number of recipes and reviews mentioning a slightly grainy texture, I chose to use Maseca's Instant Masa Harina rather than the standard version.  The results were relatively smooth.  
  • I found that leaving the pot on low heat to keep the Champurrado warm while first portions were served produced a thicker, less enjoyable drink, most likely due to the nature of the corn flour.  In future, I will remove it from heat after the first serving.
  • A standard metal kitchen whisk works quite well to produce a froth, though I would recommend using one with a smooth, evenly rounded handle.  The traditional molinillo is designed specifically for this purpose and also works well with other recipes where you might want to quickly dissolve ingredients or add froth.
  • I highly recommend using a very sharp knife with a wide blade, like a santoku, to cut the piloncillo and Ibarra chocolate.  Both ingredients are rather dense and can be quite frustrating and time consuming if using an inferior knife.
  • I have seen a number of reviews recommending a substitution of brown sugar for piloncillo and corn starch for masa harina.  Sometime, I will try both substitutions in a side-by-side comparison with the traditional recipe and share the results.

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