Christmas came. It left me with a cold and cough. Unknown Mami recently blogged about her daughter, who “felt like cheese.” I know the feeling.
Nonetheless, the tamales were wrapped, steamed and eaten. My sisters, mom, brother and boyfriend stayed up late chismeando, watching movies and snacking. This may have delayed my recovery from my cold, but our Christmas tradition carried on.
The one thing I didn’t get to do was make Vegan tamales for my son or Champurrado for Christmas Day-oops, that’s two things. I did make a small pot on tamale making day, December 23rd, before the crux of the cold hit me, but one pot is never enough. Now that I don’t have to wipe my nose every two seconds and my sense of taste is coming back I’m going to make another batch for the kids.
Champurrado (cham-poo-rah-doh) is a Mexican hot chocolate drink married with an atole, a traditional masa-based Mexican drink. It is not Mexican hot chocolate- two separate beverages.
Masa harinais the flour used for making corn tortillasand can also be used to thicken this rich, chocolate drink. I use Maizena or corn starch. This warm and thick drink is made with piloncillo (the raw sugar cone up there), milk, Mexican chocolate like the Abuelita brand and cinnamon sticks. Sometimes anise star or vanilla bean is used. It’s comfort food Mexican style.
All of these ingredients are in supermarkets in the Southwest. If you’re somewhere else you can find these in a Mexican/Latino market.
Champurrado is served most often at Christmas time with tamales, pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread) or churros.
Since I didn’t make the Vegan tamales, because I was feeling “cheesy,” I gave Vegan Champurrado a try. I substituted cow’s milk for almond milk and Maizena (corn starch) for the masa harina. The results were delicious and passed the Nana (grandma) test. Here’s a recipe that will serve 8-10: :
Combine all into a large saucepan, stir until chocolate, sugar is well blended.
8 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 disks (3.25 oz)Mexican chocolate
3 oz piloncillo cone
1/8 teaspoon ground anise seeds or one star anise
4 whole cinnamon sticks
3-5 tablespoons of Maizena stirred into 1/2 cup of warm water (this is for the thickness), add to hot mixture, use a whisk or molinillo (kids love this part) to stir frequently until it boils. Reduce heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Substitutions: Some people like half water, half whole milk, or all water. Experiment with the thickness of the drink by using less or more of Maizena. For a deep chocolate flavor add two disks. This also tastes very good when you use a vanilla bean instead of star anise.
Pour champurrado into a small cup unless you need more comfort, then go for the big mug. By using the substitutions, you can make this recipe your own. Whip some up and enjoy something different this holiday season. Perhaps as you are sipping your cinnamony chocolate drink you can think about your resolutions for 2013.
I don’t ‘do’ resolutions at the new year. Probably has something to do with this Mexican proverb (dicho): “Una buena resolución es como un caballo viejo, que a menudo ensillado pero rara vez montado.” Translation: “A good resolution is like an old horse, which is often saddled but rarely ridden.” Happy holidays and much joy, peace and chocolate in the new year.
I write YA fiction about strong women, difficult circumstances, and characters on both sides of the law. Member of SCBWI, Macondo Writers, a co-founder of #LatinxPitch, and a 2020 Las Musas Hermana mentoring program.
My debut YA novel, Strong Women Grow Here, comes out Spring 2023.
View all posts by Mona Alvarado Frazier