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Hot Cocoa, Two Ways

Though prepared differently all over the world, most cultures seem to understand the appeal of a steaming cup of cocoa. France adds vanilla, Austria adds egg yolk, some throw coffee in there, others top with whipped cream. For these two recipes, we looked to regions where cacao has been grown for centuries to see how it’s done. One of them hews pretty closely to the first hot chocolate in recorded history, while the other contains—to our absolute delight—a cheesy surprise hidden in the mug.

Mayan Style a.k.a. Champurrado or chocolate atole

Linni Kral
Servings 4


  • ½ cup masa harina corn flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 ounces piloncillo or brown sugar
  • 2 3- ounce discs of Mexican chocolate
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne


  • ►In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together ½ cup masa harina corn flour and 2 cups water.
  • ►Bring to a boil, then add 2 cups whole milk, 3 ounces piloncillo or brown sugar, 2 3-ounce discs of Mexican chocolate, 2 cinnamon sticks, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne.
  • ►Return to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook 5 to 7 more minutes, until piloncillo dissolves and mixture thickens.
  • ►Remove from heat, discard cinnamon sticks, then pour into mugs.

Linni Kral

Linni Kral is a writer, editor, activist, and friend living in Brooklyn, with past lives in Boston, L.A., and Chicago. Her writing has been featured in the Atlantic & Atlas Obscura, among others. She’s happiest in the company of cows, books, and groceries.

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