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Spicy Hot Cocoa

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

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. 


  • 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).