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Improv Cooking Challenge: Xocolatl

Welcome to the second ImprovCooking Challenge of 2017. This group is now headed up by Nichole of Cookaholic Wife.

The idea behind Improv Cooking Challenge: we are assigned two ingredients and are challenged to create a recipe with those two things. 

This month's items: chocolate and chiles. I considered a lot of different things from spiced truffles to chile-flecked chocolate cremeux. But, in the end, the boys reminded me of a chocolate drink we made when I taught a six-week elective class at their school about chocolate!

We had read a book about the Mayans. The Mayans made chocol haa; the Aztecs, after they conquered the Mayans, made xocolatl.  Xocolatl comes from the Aztec language, xococ meaning sour or bitter, and atl meaning water or drink.  Bitter water.  That's a far cry from our modern day, milky hot chocolate drinks.

And since we remembered not really liking xocolatl, the version with just water and unsweetened cacao powder, we made this version with more spices, milk, and some honey.

Ingredients makes 4 servings
  • 2 C milk (you can use regular milk or any milk substitute such as almond milk or coconut milk)
  • 1/2 C unsweetened raw cacao powder
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 2 dried chile peppers
  • 1/4 t freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 C raw honey

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together cacao powder and 1/4 C cold milk until it forms a paste. Place the spices and remaining milk into a pot. Heat gently until the milk begins to steam, but do not let it boil. Slowly add the paste to the pot and whisk until smooth. Simmer until slightly thickened. Whisk in the honey until dissolved. 

Strain out chiles and spices, then pour into individual mugs and serve hot.


  1. A warm mug of your Xocolatl would be wonderful on a cold day! Love the combination as well was the addition of the vanilla and honey...sounds yummy!

  2. Oh yes! This flavor profile was the inspiration for my ice cream!

  3. This sounds like a really interesting take on a hot chocolate! It looks very cozy for a cold evening!

  4. I am going to try this as soon as winter returns to Michigan.


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