TCP Kitchen
Ancient Aztec Elixir
Hot drink helps validate chocolate as “food of the gods”

Aztec Hot Chocolate
IMAGE: Rick Patrick

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we dedicate this month’s recipes to “all things chocolate.”

My contribution is from the book “Chocolate at Home” by pastry chef Will Torrent, who makes a chocolate drink based on the ancient Aztec version.

Because of its richness and health benefits, the Aztecs referred to cacao as the “food of the gods.” The cacao was placed in a mortar and pestle and ground with chile and other spices, then hot water was added to make a drink. You can, of course, use regular chile powder—but if you want something smokier, use a chipotle chile powder.

Aztec Hot Chocolate

2 tablespoons light brown sugar, clear honey or agave syrup
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cardamom pods, lightly bruised
1 strip orange peel
1/2 teaspoon chile powder, or more to taste
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups dark or bittersweet chocolate (200 grams), finely chopped
Ground cinnamon, to serve

  • Pour 2 cups water into a saucepan or pot over low heat. Add the sugar, cinnamon stick, vanilla, cardamom pods, orange peel, chile powder and nutmeg. Bring to a gentle simmer, then remove from the heat and set aside for 30 minutes to allow the spices to fully infuse with the water.
  • Remove the whole spices and orange peel and discard. Add the chopped chocolate to the pan and reheat to just below the boiling point, stirring constantly to smoothly melt the chocolate.
  • Pour the hot chocolate into cups or heatproof glasses and serve immediately with a pinch of ground cinnamon on top.

Servings: 8. Serving size: 5 ounces. Per serving: 231 calories, 16.23 g protein, 14.46 g fat, 8.38 g carbohydrates, 1.84 g dietary fiber, 883 mg sodium, 3.36 g sugars, 57 mg cholesterol.

Reprinted from Chocolate at Home” by Will Torrent, Ryland Peters & Small,

Cook’s Tip
Before serving, blend the hot chocolate using a handheld mixer to make the hot chocolate silky-smooth and create good foam on top.

Do You Know Beans About Cocoa?

Cacao (pronounced ka-KOW) is the South American evergreen tree.

Cocoa (pronounced KOH-koh) is the product made from fermenting and drying the edible parts of the tree’s pods and beans. Raw cacao beans are processed to make cocoa powder and cocoa butter—and, ultimately, chocolate.

TAGS: Contests, Food, Recipes, TCP Kitchen

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