Dark Chocolate Atole is a traditional Mexican drink made from cornmeal. It sounds strange, but it’ll spice up your Valentine’s Day in the coziest way.
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Are you excited? Are you stressed? Are you bitter?
Valentine’s Day gets a bad rap. Some say it’s too Hallmarky- it’s the commercialization of love. Others cringe under the pressure to be coupled in time for this holiday. However, I’ve always embraced Valentine’s Day as a time, not to stress, but to celebrate love. That’s it. Pure and simple (I am a romantic, obviously).
Celebrating love might mean spending extra time with my significant other. It might mean treating myself to something decadent to eat or pampering myself with a massage appointment. Or, I might celebrate the love of a best friend. Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse for a girls’ night.
So pump the breaks on the stress and pressure, and embrace this holiday for what it can be: a time to be grateful for those we love, to love ourselves, and most importantly, a time to really embrace dark chocolate!
Another way to reclaim Valentine’s Day? Skip the heart shaped chocolate boxes, skip the generic bouquets, avoid the lame cards, and make something yourself. Make this Valentine’s Day a dark chocolate love fest with Healthyish Richie Rich Dark Chocolate Cakes and a homemade, spicy, dark sipping chocolate called Atole (ah-toe-lay).
So what is Atole (sometimes spelled atol)? It’s a traditional Mexican drink, often consumed for breakfast or as a healthy elixir. It’s made by cooking cornmeal in water to form a thick, hot beverage. The traditional atole is the plain cornmeal drink, but different versions can be found all over Mexico, running the gamut of sweet to savory. The idea of drinking cornmeal was especially curious, but once I learned about Dark Chocolate Atole, known as champurrado, I knew exactly where to begin.
This Dark Chocolate Atole is sweet, thick and spicy. It lands somewhere between a chocolate pudding and a European drinking chocolate, so it’s a mug you’ll sip and savor slowly. Rather than whipped cream, I topped these atole sippers with whipped coconut cream, which could be a dessert in its own right.
In the spirit of our now reclaimed Valentine’s Day, I suggest sharing Richie Rich Chocolate Cakes and Dark Chocolate Atole with your significant other or your closest friends. Lately, my boyfriend and I like to play Vertellis, a game of conversation prompts meant to bring us closer together. Dark chocolate and all the feels? Are you starting to feel the Valentine’s Day spirit yet?
To make an even better dessert and drink pairing, top the Healthyish Richie Rich Chocolate Cakes or Healthyish Cocoa Brownie Cake with dollops of whipped coconut cream, and garnish with cacao nibs and a dusting of cinnamon or organic pumpkin spice mix.
Dark Chocolate Atole
¼ cup fine grind cornmeal (NOT cornstarch)
¼ cup coconut sugar
2 Tablespoons raw cacao
⅛ teaspoon cayenne or dried chipotle powder (more to taste)
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cans coconut milk, refrigerated at least 2 hours
2 cups filtered water
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I like 65-72% cacao mass), roughly chopped
4 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
In a dry saucepan over medium heat, toast cornmeal, stirring until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, and stir in the coconut sugar, raw cacao powder, cayenne and salt.
Without tipping or shaking the cans, remove the coconut milk from the refrigerator. Open the cans, and scrape the thick cream from the top of the cans, transfer to a small bowl and return to the refrigerator to chill. Pour the coconut milk liquid into the cornmeal mixture.
Return the pan to medium-high heat, and whisk in the water until fairly smooth, then add the cinnamon sticks and chocolate. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue simmering and stirring until the mixture is smooth and thickened to your liking, 10-15 more minutes. Add more cayenne or chili powder to taste.
Serve immediately, or remove from the heat and let stand until ready to serve. The drink will continue to thicken as it stands, and the flavor of the cinnamon will deepen. Thin with almond milk or water if needed.
Meanwhile, make the whipped coconut cream.
Place the chilled coconut cream in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with the vanilla. Whip until soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes on medium-high. Taste, add more vanilla to taste
Ladle the atole into cups, top with a dollop of whipped coconut cream, and serve immediately.
Quelcy is a Pittsburgh based food stylist, photographer, dessert advocate and crazy dog lady. She shares seasonally inspired recipes rooted in nostalgia on her blog, WithTheGrains.com. Her favorite Healthish combo is tangy lemon cake with a dollop of dark chocolate frosting.