Field Notes

Master Class: Mexican Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate might be marketed most successfully to those under the age of 10, but we’re big believers that the wintery beverage is appropriate for kids of all ages. And when cinnamon and a hint of chili come into play, the treat feels downright sophisticated (add a nip of rum and we’re really talking).

Chocolate and chilies have a storied marriage, especially in Mexican cooking. Both indigenous to the Americas, the ingredients complement each other by bringing out the nuances of flavor. In our take on Mexican hot chocolate, we use a mixture of both cocoa powder and melted chocolate for the most rich and velvety consistency. Since the oils in the chili are activated by heat, a little bit of chili powder goes a long way here. Try this recipe out with a few different types of chili powder to figure out which you like best.


Yield: 1 serving

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder (we like to use aji amarillo, aleppo, or cayenne)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 ounce 70% (or higher) chocolate
  • 1 ounce aged rum (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa, sugar, cinnamon and cayenne together. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the milk and chocolate and warm, whisking occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted. Add the cocoa mixture to the saucepan and whisk until completely smooth. Pour into a mug and serve.