While ice-cold horchata, made with rice, is perhaps Mexico’s most famous grain-based drink, chilly autumn and winter months bring another satisfying grain beverage called champurrado. Based on the traditional recipe for atole (a comforting cold-day drink thickened with masa), this sweet treat also contains piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar) and molten chocolate. Touches of vanilla, cinnamon and fennel seed add aromatic dimension to this creamy take on hot chocolate, which is typically served alongside homemade tamales at Christmas.
December 15, 2011


In a large pot, bring the water and cinnamon sticks to a boil. Cover and remove from heat to steep for 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks and return water to low heat, gradually adding the masa harina and whisking to remove lumps. Add chocolate, piloncillo, fennel seed and vanilla extract, stirring until chocolate begins to dissolve (using a molinillo, if you have one). Increase heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes, whisking occasionally. Serve immediately.


  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (preferably canela, Mexican cinnamon)
  • ¼ cup masa harina (corn flour used for making tortillas)
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ disk Mexican Ibarra or Abuelita Mexican chocolate, chopped
  • 1 large (approximately 1½ cups) piloncillo cone, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
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