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Spicy Hot Cocoa

This recipe mimics the hot cocoa reputedly made by the Aztecs that is still found in parts of southern Mexico. There, however, the drink is made with water, resulting in a thinner, less rich beverage. 

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 2 dried red chilies 
  • 6 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 2 Tbs. sugar 
  • 1/3 cup water 
  • 1 cinnamon stick, about 1 1/2 inches long, plus more for garnish 
  • 2 1/2 cups milk  
  • Whipped cream for garnish (optional) 


Open the chilies over a saucepan and release the seeds. Add the chili pods, cocoa powder, sugar and water. Set over low heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture forms a smooth paste, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the cinnamon stick and milk and stir until the paste is completely dissolved. Cook until hot, about 5 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Strain the hot cocoa into 4 mugs and garnish each with a cinnamon stick or a dollop of whipped cream. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).