Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Cafe De Olla and Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate.

Mexican hot chocolate, rather than being made from cocoa powder or powder is made using bars of spicy sweetened chocolate. This chocolate is very sweet and has a coarse texture, you can see the grains of sugar in it and it's spiced with cinnamon.

The hexagonally shaped Ibarra and Abuelita brands are popular, but it also comes in rectangular slabs similar to regular cooking chocolate.

Preparation is simple. Heat the milk, place in a blender with the chocolate and process until combined. Simple. There is a traditional tool called an molinilo which can be used to whisk the drink, and while it probably makes a fine souvenir, the blender is faster.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Cafe de Olla.

Cafe de Olla is a sweet coffee spiced with cinnamon and sometimes also clove and orange peel. It is sweetened with piloncillo, a unrefined sugar sold in cones slightly smaller than a fist. Assuming this isn't available to you dark brown sugar will substitute just fine.

When it comes to preparation there are lots of methods, most of which tie themselves up in knots with French presses etc. The problem is that the time necessary to extract the flavour from the spices and dissolve the cinnamon is longer than required to brew the coffee. Rick Bayless gets around this by making a spiced syrup first then brewing the coffee using the syrup. Personally I can see no reason not to simply add the coffee grounds to the pot after the syrup has been made and let that stand for five minutes. The drink can then be strained directly into a mug, removing both the grounds and any stray bits of cinnamon or clove at the same time.

I think a single stick of cinnamon and two to three cloves will flavour about four cupfuls of water and to my taste this will require about 3 heaped tablespoons of ground coffee and add as much sugar or piloncillo as you like.

It's unusual, but comforting, and goes well with pastries of any kind, perfect for a mid-morning break.

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