What is Mexican Chocolate?

Mary McMahon

Mexican chocolate is a type of chocolate which is prepared with an assortment of spices for a very distinctive and rich flavor. It is available in many markets, especially those which stock basic Mexican foods, and it can be found in the form of bars and discs of solid chocolate, along with powders and syrups. In addition to being used to make hot chocolate, Mexican chocolate can also be used in traditional Mexican dishes like mole, and it can be used in baking for an unusual flavor.

For a twist, use Mexican chocolate rather than cocoa when making chocolate pudding.
For a twist, use Mexican chocolate rather than cocoa when making chocolate pudding.

Chocolate has a very long history in Mexico and Central America. The Theobroma cacao plant, which produces the cacao beans used to make chocolate, is native to South America, and archaeological evidence suggests that Mesoamericans made dishes with chocolate for centuries before the arrival of Europeans. Although many people associate chocolate with sweetness today, the original Mexican chocolate was actually rather sour and intense, and it was highly prized. When the Spanish were introduced to chocolate, they brought it back to Europe, popularizing it among the upper classes; for quite some time, hot chocolate drinking was rather trendy.

Nutmeg is often used to season Mexican chocolate.
Nutmeg is often used to season Mexican chocolate.

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Typical Mexican chocolate is made with roasted and ground cacao nibs, sugar, and cinnamon. Other spices such as nutmeg and allspice may be added, along with nuts, and chilies are sometimes used as well. It tends to be rather granular in texture, with a creamy finish from the cocoa butter. The natural sweetness from the sugar makes the addition of extra sweetener unnecessary.

Cocoa butter supplies a creamy finish to Mexican chocolate.
Cocoa butter supplies a creamy finish to Mexican chocolate.

In Mexico, chocolate is often used to make a hot beverage, as it has been used for centuries. Traditional Mexican hot chocolate is foamy; originally, this was accomplished by pouring the drink back and forth between vessels, but today it is foamed with a molinillo, a specially designed whisk. These tools can also be used to foam other drinks to taste. Many people in the United States along the Mexican border have developed a taste for chocolate Mexicano, and it is often available at shops as a result.

Some people develop their own techniques for preparing Mexican chocolate, including special ingredients which they like to add. Chocolate right out of the package is, of course, perfectly usable for whisking with water or milk to create a hot beverage, but you may also enjoy experimenting with additions and toppings like whipped cream. Mexican chocolate can also be used to make desserts like puddings and flans, and some people enjoy eating it straight, savoring the rich and sometimes intense flavor.

Mexican chocolate may be used to make hot chocolate.
Mexican chocolate may be used to make hot chocolate.

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Discussion Comments


@cmsmith10: This is the recipe that I use for mole sauce. I serve it with smoked beef, chicken and enchiladas. It's very simple to make.

You need 3 dried chilies, 1 cup water, 2 tsp. Salt, ½ tsp. Pepper, 2 onions (chopped), 2 cloves garlic (minced), 2 cups tomato sauce, 1/3 cup sugar, ¼ tsp. Cinnamon, and a 1 oz. Square of unsweetened baking chocolate.

Combine the salt, pepper, chiles, water, and onions in a pan. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the garlic, sugar, tomato sauce, cinnamon, and chocolate. Stir until it is heated well and the chocolate is melted. Serve it on the dish of your choice. I add fresh cilantro on top of mine.


Great article. I have been wanting to make some Mexican mole sauce but I have not been able to find a simple recipe. Does anyone have a recipe that they could share?

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