Nix the mix: DIY Mexican hot chocolate

Forget the powdered mix and make it from scratch!

For each serving, use about 6-8 ounces of milk, one ounce of chocolate or one quarter of one Mexican chocolate disc, a tablespoon of sugar (or to taste) and 1/8 teaspoon of each spice you're using (or to taste), including the vanilla extract. Simply heat your milk in a small sauce pan, until it just starts to bubble (don't boil it, though), then whisk in the chocolate, sugar, spices and vanilla. When the chocolate just begins to melt, remove the pan from the heat and continue whisking until all of the chocolate is melted. Pour into mugs, garnish with cinnamon and/or whipped cream and serve hot. For an added kick of flavor, add a shot of Tia Maria coffee liqueur to each mug of hot chocolate — it will give you an added feeling of warmth (and maybe even a little buzz).

If you want thicker hot chocolate, use more cream in place of milk and more chocolate, or let the mixture simmer on very low heat until it reduces and thickens. You could actually get it to "drinking chocolate" consistency if you let it reduce far enough. Don't let the mixture get too hot, though, or the chocolate will break and turn into clumps in the liquid.

Try this recipe and I promise that you'll nix those powder packets for good!

Check out the video below, by Hilah Cooking, for a video tutorial.

click to enlarge Nix the mix: DIY Mexican hot chocolate -
Nix the mix: DIY Mexican hot chocolate

click to enlarge Nix the mix: DIY Mexican hot chocolate -
Nix the mix: DIY Mexican hot chocolate

Hot chocolate is perfect for this time of year and makes a comforting treat on chilly winter nights. Yes, you could take the easy route and buy a box of Swiss Miss (that also contains a slew of ingredients you can't pronounce), or you could spend a few extra minutes and whip up a batch from scratch with a flavorful twist — Mexican hot chocolate!

Mexican hot chocolate is basically hot chocolate with the addition of spices, like ground cinnamon and cayenne. And believe me, it's incredibly easy and foolproof to prepare. All you need is milk or cream (or sub soy or almond milk), semi-sweet chocolate, sugar, vanilla and spices. Some versions also call for a little bit of cocoa powder and whole spices, but it's all a matter of taste and interpretation.

As for the chocolate, you could use any brand of solid chocolate you like, but for a more authentic taste, I recommend using Taza's organic Chocolate Mexicano discs (which come in many flavors and are available at some specialty grocers and online), Ibarra chocolate discs, or Abuelita chocolate (the yellow box with a picture of a white-haired grandma), which can be easily found in the ethnic section at most grocery stores.

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