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child reads about Frida Kahlo while drinking hot chocolate

Champurrado

When I first became a mom, I lived in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, a beautiful, art filled neighborhood rich with Mexcian culture and tradition. Street vendors set up stalls near the park where I would walk with my young son, and we’d sample mangos dusted with chili powder, elotes, and other delicious snacks. Our favorite treat, though, was champurrado served piping hot from huge thermoses in the colder months. We’d wait in line with construction workers on their breaks for our cup of this sweet, earthy hot chocolate and sip it carefully as we walked through the park near the National Museum of Mexican Art.


I never knew what made the drink taste so unique until, years later, I ventured to make it for myself and reintroduce the kids (now two of them!) to a memory of our old neighborhood. Champurrado is a traditional Mexican hot chocolate made with the addition of masa harina or corn flour. The masa harina adds a velvety richness that’s hard to describe. Try it for yourself this season! Even better, fill a thermos with champurrado and head out for a walk with your family. Share this soul-warming drink with them and make some new memories.

20 mins

SERVES 4

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup masa harina (corn tortilla flour, or you can substitute yellow or white cornmeal)

2 cups warm water

2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon

Note: This recipe for champurrado was created using what most of us have in our kitchens already. If you want to make the recipe more authentic, look for Mexican chocolate disks to use instead of the cocoa powder. They add a slightly bitter flavor that is a little like coffee. You may also try to find a special Mexican brown sugar called piloncillo to sweeten the drink.

DIRECTIONS

In a large saucepan, slowly add masa harina to the warm water, whisking until combined. Add milk, cocoa powder, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Heat over medium heat just until boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes until sugar is dissolved, whisking occasionally. Serve immediately.

COOKING TOGETHER

KIDS CAN:

  • Measure ingredients
  • Carefully whisk the masa into the water
  • Taste for any adjustments. Does it need more sugar?

GROWN-UPS CAN:

  • Manage the boiling of the water and milk and whisking in ingredients
  • Look for an interesting food tradition in your neighborhood. Maybe there is a takeout fish fry at a local church or someone selling tamales on the weekends at a local taco shop? Who are the small, local food vendors in your area and how can you support them?
A photo of Cheryl.

Cheryl Knecht Muñoz

Cheryl is the Founder and Owner of Sugar Beet Schoolhouse, a cooking school for kids and their families in River Forest, IL. As a chef, instructor, and working mom, she is passionate about growing, cooking, and sharing good food together.

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