I think that my interest in the Mexican combination of chocolate and chilli may have been originally sparked from watching the film adaptation of Laura Esquivel’s Like Water For Chocolate in college. The fire of chilli and the dark richness of chocolate seems, to me, to be a rather good combination. The Chocolate and Chilli Biscotti I picked up recently to accompany my flat white (coffee) at the Underground Coffee Company Café in Christchurch was a good example of this and put my mind musing over other ways I could use chocolate and chilli together.
My interest was heightened while browsing at Aji last week. I came across discs of Ibarra Mexican Chocolate – a type of sweetened chocolate laced with cinnamon which is said to be perfect for making hot chocolate or a spicy Mexican mole sauce to serve over turkey. The owner of the shop said that she encourages people add a pinch of Aji’s Kashmiri Chilli Powder while making hot chocolate. I didn’t need a second telling and took that as well plus, as I had had a run of bad quality of cinnamon lately, some of their Triple A grade cinnamon. As we were going down to stay at a bach near Dunedin for the weekend – and an essential part of bach living are regular hot chocolates – the chocolate and spices were packed with the rest of the food, ready for experimentation.
I wouldn’t rave about Ibarra Mexican Chocolate for eating purposes – it’s rather sweet and grainy – but, for hot chocolate, it does a wonderful job especially when combined with the chilli and cinnamon. We sat on the deck outside the bach, the Boyfriend trying to catch fish with a hand-line while I, wrapped up in a rug, read one of my stack of books, sipping away on the surprisingly intense blend. Sweet, but with a hint of a kick, it really warms you from the inside out. I used about a ¼ teaspoon of chilli powder for the two of us and that was enough to make the tastebuds tingle. I would suggest adding the chilli a pinch at a time, tasting as you go, as each chilli powder will differ in the amount of heat it delivers. If you can’t source the Ibarra Mexican Chocolate, you could try using some bars of good quality dark chocolate.
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Ibarra Mexican Chocolate – half a disc
Milk – two mugs full
Chilli powder – ¼ teaspoon
Ground cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon
Put the milk in a saucepan to heat over a moderate heat. Chop the chocolate roughly and add to the saucepan with the spices. Stir until melted then whisk briskly until near boiling point. Do not allow to boil. Pour into mugs while still frothy and serve immediately.
Serves 2…unless you’re very greedy!