Today’s chili-spiked hot chocolate recipe is one I sampled as part of a breakfast I was served in Napa. It comes from Daisy Martinez. It was another one of my favorite recipes from my trip. I could tell there was cinnamon in it but couldn’t even guess the chilies. It is the perfect way to warm up on a cold snowy day. You could even leave the chilies out and it would still be excellent.
- DRIED CHILE DE ÁRBOL OR A PINCH OF CAYENNE PEPPER
- CINNAMON STICKS
- ROUND OF MEXICAN CHOCOLATE (NESTLE’S ABUELITA, IBARRA AND CORTES ARE ALL GOOD CHOICES)
- DARK BROWN SUGAR
- GROUND CHILE
- 1 small dried chile de árbol or a pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 2 each cinnamon sticks
- 1 (3 oz ) round of Mexican chocolate (Nestle’s Abuelita, Ibarra and Cortes are all good choices), grated on the coarse side of a grater
- 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
- Ground chile, large pinch
- Heat a small saucepan (the one you’ll use to make the hot chocolate) over medium-low heat. Toss the chile de árbol, turning it once, just until it begins to change color and smell wonderful, less than 1 minute. Remove the chile and let cool, then grind it fine in a spice mill.
- Warm the milk and cinnamon sticks in the saucepan over low heat until bubbles form around the edges. Let steep over low heat for at least 5 minutes, or up to 10 minutes for a stronger cinnamon flavor.
- Remove the cinnamon sticks and set aside. Add the chocolate, sugar and a large pinch of the ground chile to the milk. Whisk vigorously to melt the chocolate and foam the milk. Pour into warm mugs and slip a cinnamon stick into each one.
Chiles de árbol are long, very thin dried chiles with a brick-red color and fair amount of heat. Usually the seeds from dried chiles are discarded before the chiles are toasted, but that is not the case with chile de árbol. Toast and grind the chile, seeds and all. You will find chile de árbol in all Latin markets and some well-stocked supermarkets. Often they are found among the other spices and labeled simply “dried chiles.”