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August 5, 2008

Mexican chocolate (Recipe: Mexican chocolate pots de creme)

Mexican chocolate

Thank you, Moctezuma II.

You may have lost the entire Aztec empire to Spain back in the early 16th Century, but you did tell Cortés (the guy who got your empire) about Mexican chocolate, and he brought it home to the king, who shared it with the French, who carried it around Europe, and pretty soon chocolate was everywhere.

The Mexican chocolate we buy today -- unlike the sour chocolate of Moctezuma's time -- is made by grinding cacao nibs with cinnamon and sugar. Both Ibarra and Abuelita, the most popular brands, are sold in disks; each disk is 3.1 ounces, delineated into 8 wedges. (Abuelita is also sold in bar form, though it's harder to find.) Two wedges seems to be just the right amount for a cup of hot chocolate, made with steaming milk.

If you're lucky enough to live near a Latino market, you'll find other brands of chocolate in bars, some containing almonds, nutmeg, allspice, or other spices. Be sure to read labels carefully (remember that all packaged products sold in the US must contain a label listing the ingredients in English).

You can substitute one ounce of semisweet chocolate plus half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon for one ounce of Mexican chocolate, and then add sugar in your recipe to taste. Or use one tablespoon of cocoa powder for every one ounce of Mexican chocolate, again adding sugar as needed.

Mexican chocolate, though sweetened, is a fundamental ingredient in savory moles, where it tempers and deepens the flavor of chile peppers. Of course you'll also want to use it for pecan pie bars, brownies, cinnamon-chocolate-pumpkin bread, or La Chispa, a hot chocolate drink kicked up with tequila.

Mexican chocolate pots de creme

Mexican chocolate pots de creme

Yes, a French dessert made with Mexican chocolate, inspired by several recipes and especially by my friend Cindy Salvato, an executive pastry chef. Serves 6-8.

Ingredients

2 cups whipping cream, chilled
6 oz Mexican chocolate (2 disks minus one small wedge), finely chopped
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract, or the seeds from one vanilla bean
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions

Set your oven rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 325°F.

In a saucepan, heat the whipping cream to the simmer; remove the pot from heat, and stir in the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract and salt. When the mixture is well-combined, whisk in the chocolate-milk mixture. Pour through a strainer into a large glass measuring cup.

In a large, deep roasting pan, place 6-8 small ramekins, custard cups, small rice bowls, espresso cups or pots de creme cups. Distribute the mixture among the cups you have. Pour hot (not boiling) water into the roasting pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the little cups. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake for 25 minutes or until the custard is just set around the edges.

Remove from oven, and remove the cups from the roasting pan. Let them cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight. Serve topped with slices of fruit.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Mole colorado
Chocolate-orange sorbet
Chocolate refrigerator cake
White chocolate brownies

Comments

Oh wow, these sound so indulgently delicious! I love Mexican hot chocolate so I'm sure I'll just devour these custards :-)

Bet that is good. My friend bought some and had no idea what to do with it. I used it in a bread but I think this is a much better option.

sounds heavenly! perfect for chocoholic like me :)

Hmmm...don't think I have tried Mex choc before but since it has the word "chocolate" on it, it sounds tempting :)

Have you ever compared the real stuff to the substitutes? I'm lucky enough to have the real thing close at hand but have always wondered whether they were comparable.

I finally got my hands on a disk of mexican chocolate this past spring... unfortunately, it didn't make it to a post because we sucked it down in hot chocolate too quickly to take a picture! :)

Pot de creme rocks and this is an absolutely brilliant idea. And i just happen to have a bunch of this chocolate in the pantry left over from my mole experiments.

I have never tried this, but I can tell it's delicious, Lydia. :)
And I LOVE chocolate pots the creme!

I love chocolate and cinnamon cake so this must be heaven. And I can imagine the faces of my children when I make his! Thanks Lydia!

I'm a dissenter on this one: I thought that the process of making the hot chocolate was a lot of work, and didn't actually like the result as much as I like the cocoa I get from good old Hershey's! I also tried it in chocolate pudding, and wasn't thrilled either, compared to my ordinary recipe. I think the cinnamon overwhelms the chocolate. No accounting for taste!

Thanks so much for this recipe. I just made the southern living version of this the other day but am now excited to try it with the Mexican chocolate...it's such a popular ingredient here in Texas.

All the best,

Mary

I'm always adding cinnamon to my hot chocolate, my mochas...anything to get that flavor. In bakeries we always had a tiny yellow box of the "treasured" Mexican chocolate up on a high shelf, and had to use it sparingly. Thanks for the delicious recipe, Lydia!

I've never seemed to find Mexican chocolate yet, but I was unaware of the substitution options--very good to know! My wife keeps saying I need more chocolate desserts in the rotation... and these pots de creme sound delicious!

Kathy, Mexican hot chocolate is wonderful. I brought back a molinillo from one of my visits to Mexico, just for frothing the hot chocolate.

Peabody, bread with chocolate sounds delicious.

Rita, Tigerfish: we chocoholics do tend to find each other, don't we?!

Alanna, don't know that I've ever had the fake stuff. What are some of the brand names to watch out for?

Michelle, I'm laughing!

Mary, Patricia: Pots de creme are wonderful, and I do like it with this chocolate. Gives a different flavor.

Ilva, children love any type of chocolate pudding, I think! I'm particularly fond of the chocolate-cinnamon combination, too.

Mae, it's definitely a matter of personal preference. And each brand of Mexican chocolate tastes a bit different, too, with different proportions of chocolate and sugar. So if you have the opportunity to taste more than one brand, maybe you'll be able to find one you like.

Mary, it will be fun to compare the two versions. They'll probably be very different, but I hope both will be delicious. And I'm guessing that in Texas Mexican chocolate is easy to find in the market.

Marilyn, I had no idea that Mexican chocolate was such a treasured ingredient!

Mike, as I always say, I'm happy to send you some chocolate (or any other pantry ingredient I write about). Email to me if you'd like some.

This sounds incredibly good!We have no luck finding Mexican choc here, but I wish I could get my hands on it one day!

Mexican chocolate as a wonderful aroma! Unfortunately we do not get it so often here. But the pots de creme is something I could eat with any good chocolate - sounds delish!

I've never tried this b4 and it sounds really good ... must look for this when I travel overseas. I've recently acquired a sweet tooth n I'm craving for all things chocolate :)

this sounds sinful!! yummy!!thanks for sharing this recipe

You would so love my neighborhood! It's all Latino/Hispanic food all the time. :-)

Your pots de creme sound fabulous!

Yummy recipe,I am a huge chocolate fan . Looks great. You must try Ecuador (variety known as Forastero) chocolate too,that I usually use in my recipes or Criollo variety,from Ocumare de la Costa, estado de Aragua, Venezuela.This last,is the best variety of chocolate that I ever tasted.

very, very interesting way to use mexican chocolate. beautiful.

Mmmm. I think we both have chocolate on the brain lately. I just love what you've done here. I will want to make this soon.
I used mexican chocolate, but I can't remember what I made. Of course I'll remember when I sign offline, right?

This is one of my favorite desserts and I love Mexican Chocolate. I have a shop close by where I can get the chocolate. If I had the day off today, I would be in the kitchen making these for dinner, yum!

I don't know if I should hug you give you a nudge from my soon to be widening hips. This recipe is a definite keeper and so worth the extra calories and endorphin rush.

Anh, Meeta, Noobcook: I'm always happy to send a bit of chocolate, so email to me if you'd like some. Of course pots de creme are delicious with any type of chocolate.

Dhanggit, sinful, yes, and yummy too!

Ann, one thing I missed when I first moved out of New York was the easy availability of absolutely every type of food. There isn't a bodega within 25 miles of where I'm living now.

Sylvia, thanks so much -- I've never seen Forastero but would love to try it. Some of the larger markets in Boston carry Criollo, and it is delicious.

We Are Never Full, thank you.

Dawn, that's always the way -- I remember things a minute after I needed to remember.

Jason, if I had the day off, I'd be sitting at your kitchen table, waiting for the pots to come out of the oven.

Sandie, I often joke about how much easier it would be if, instead of eating chocolate, I just packed it directly onto my hips. Most of the time, chocolate is worth it!

Re the hip issue: we read a poem when we were little that said: Whatever Miss T eats turns into Miss T. If that were the goal, yes it would be easier, but we're hooked on the sensual satisfaction of food. Taste, smell, unctuous effects, even the pleasures of preparation. Let someone else do the dishes!

Believe it or not, I don't think I have ever tried Mexican Chocolate - I am going to search this out.

First of all, I love that photo and that recipe sounds delicious!
I have a recipe bookmarked for brownies that calls for Mexican chocolate. I'll have to dig some up!

I had a Mexican colleague who travelled back a couple of times a year...after one trip she bestowed mexican chocolate on me--it was fabulous...and now it's all gone...I've mentioned it to friends who were travelling there, in hopes that they'd bring some back for me...alas, I received the equivalent of a Hershey Bar...

j

Susan, I like the way you think! Sometimes you just have to accept the consequences, eh?

TW, Mexican chocolate is getting easier to find; in fact, I just picked up a single disk of it at a gourmet market in the Berkshires. I think the brand is Taza.

Kristen, please share the brownie recipe if you do make it. I love baking with Mexican chocolate.

Jasmine, as I always say to readers, I'm happy to send you any ingredient you read about on this blog, if you can't find it at home.

I made this today for father's day. Followed the receipe but they never became a custard, they stayed liquid, even after 3 hours in the refrigerator. What could have gone wrong?

Paty, the only thing I can think of is that the pots didn't cook long enough in the oven to start the setting process. I'm so sorry this didn't work for you.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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