Cinnamon (Canamomum zeylanicum)
comes from Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). It is pale brown, even
tan in color, and has a warm, sweet flavor with citrus and clove
notes. Compared to the flavor of cassia, it is drier and more
subtle. True cinnamon bark is thin and rolls in a spiral.
To confuse matters, in Mexican
cooking, recipes call for canela true Ceylon cinnamon.
Mexican cooks prefer canela both for its flavor and because the
thinner bark can be easily pounded and ground, as it is in Mexican
In Mexico, hot chocolate is
a frothy drink hand-whipped using a wooden molinello. The actual
chocolate is a gritty combination of cacao, ground almonds, canela
and sugar. The drink it makes, unlike the super-intense, stimulating
hot chocolate currently in fashion, is a soothing drink all at
once milky, spicy and warmly chocolate.
Mexican Hot Chocolate - Makes 2 servings
Very different from the traditional
cup of hot cocoa, this is milky and tastes more of cinnamon and
spice than chocolate. It also has a head of froth. Because Mexican
chocolate is loaded with sugar, I prefer this version. I use
Chocolove Milk Chocolate, with 16 grams of sugar per ounce and
a rich taste. Scharffen Berger Dark Milk is good, too. Avoid
sweeter milk chocolates like Dove, Ghirardelli, Trader Joes
and Hersheys Milk.
2 cups low fat milk (1 percent
or skim) milk
3-inch cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela
1 1/2 ounces (1/2 bar) good-quality milk chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch ancho chile powder, to taste
In small saucepan, heat milk
with cinnamon stick over medium-low heat until milk is foamy
and small bubbles rise. Cover, and steep for 10 minutes, off
the heat. Remove and discard cinnamon stick.
In small bowl, combine chocolate
and cocoa. Whisk in 1/4 cup hot milk until chocolate and cocoa
are dissolved. Whisk chocolate mixture into remaining hot milk.
Mix in vanilla and chile powder.
Pour hot chocolate into blender.
Cover and whirl at medium speed until hot chocolate is frothy.
Divide between two medium-size mugs and serve immediately.
Note: If doubling the recipe,
use a 4-inch cinnamon stick.
Per serving made with skim milk:
220 x calories, 7.5 g total fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 26 g carbohydrate,
12 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 150 mg sodium.