Sweet sipping

Beverages: Hot chocolate or pot coffee makes a good breakfast partner.


At any Mexican bakery, whether in Mexico or the United States, you'll find an irresistible assortment of "pan dulces," sweet breads with various toppings. What goes best with these tempting pastries is a cup of Chocolate Mexicano (Mexican-style hot chocolate) or Cafe de Olla ("pot coffee," so called because it's simmered in the coffee pot).

The comforting cocoa can be made with milk or water. While purists might use a "molinillo" (a carved wooden beater) to froth the chocolate, you can use a whisk or a blender. A crushed wedge of the chocolate is quite good in hot coffee.

Chocolate Mexicano

Serves 4

4 cups milk or water

8 wedges (about 4 ounces) Mexican sweet chocolate, crushed

Place milk and chocolate in saucepan; cook over moderate heat until mixture barely simmers. Whisk or blend until chocolate is melted and mixture is frothy. Serve immediately.

Hot Chocolate, New Mexico-Style

Serves 4

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder or granules (optional)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

1 stick cinnamon

2 cups milk

1 cup half-and-half

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

In a 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar, cocoa, instant coffee (if used) and salt. Stir in water; add cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Add milk and half-and-half to cocoa mixture, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat.

Mix in vanilla and cloves; remove cinnamon stick; beat until foamy, then serve.

Cafe de Olla

Serves 2

2 cups water

1/4 cup Mexican coffee beans, coarsely ground

1 large stick cinnamon

1 tablespoon brown sugar or 1 small cone "piloncillo" (Mexican raw sugar)

Place all ingredients in a coffee pot or saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 to 5 minutes. Bring to a second boil; reduce heat. Allow to simmer 3 to 5 minutes more before serving.

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