What is Mexican Chocolate and Why You’ll Love It! 

If you’re someone with a large sweet tooth, I’m sure Mexican chocolate has probably piqued your interest more than once. 

Being the birthplace of chocolate as we know it, it’s no surprise that Mexico has a strong connection to cacao and this delicious artisanal chocolate quickly became a staple ingredient in many Mexican cuisines. 

Combining cacao beans from Chiapas, Tabasco, and Guerrera with lots of sugar and a handful of spices, Mexican chocolate offers a spicy alternative to the sweet chocolate bars of Europe.

What is Mexican Chocolate & How is it Different?

Mexican chocolate is more than just regular old chocolate that comes from Mexico. 

This delicious blend of cacao nibs, sugar, and cinnamon is quite unique with a distinct flavor and a huge range of uses. Naturally, with chilis being another major export from Mexico, you can often find chili chocolate blends alongside other combinations of spices to suit an eclectic palate. 

Unlike chocolate you will find in Europe and North America, this chocolate has quite a coarse texture as a result of the extra sugar content

But perhaps the biggest difference about Mexican chocolate is that it is generally not designed to be eaten on its own but rather is used in a large variety of both sweet and savory foods. That being said, today there are many chocolates produced to be enjoyed as a sweet treat similar to artisanal European chocolate. 

History of Chocolate in Mexico

As I already mentioned, cacao beans were first discovered in Mexico and we can thank the Mayans and Aztecs for making it into the delicious treat we call chocolate

Even back then, chocolate was adored so much that it was commonly used as a form of currency as well as featured heavily in sacred ceremonies. 

Naturally, when the Spanish rulers of Mexico discovered this delicious creation, they introduced it to Europe where it rapidly transformed into a snack that is now enjoyed on its own all around the world. 

Mexican chocolate stayed much truer to its origins with minimal processing resulting in a much rougher texture and more earthy flavour thanks to the added spices. 

Types of Mexican Chocolate to Try 

Traditionally, it comes in a disk shape called “tabletas” rather than conventional bars as you will find elsewhere. 

These tabletas all start with a traditional base of cacao, sugar, and cinnamon, but many adventurous variations have evolved to include almonds, vanilla, and even chiles

This means there is a huge variety of flavors to explore from bitter to sweet and truly something for everyone. 

While traditional Mexican hot chocolates are made by melting a tableta in hot milk, today you will find a range of chocolate powders if you prefer a different version.

Mexican Chocolate Abuelita

Best Chocolate Brands from Mexico:

When buying Mexican Chocolate, understandably, you would want to try the best one! So to get the best you should go straight to the source and buy from one of Mexico’s traditional chocolate brands. 

Here’s a recap of all the best chocolate brands in Mexico as well as what are the best products to try from each one!  

Ibarra – Chocolate tablets

El MetateOaxacan chocolate balls

Taza ChocolateStone ground chocolate discs

AbuelitaHot chocolate tablets

Recipes Using Mexican Chocolate

As I mentioned before, Mexican chocolate is designed to be used in foods and drinks rather than being eaten on its own. 

With that being said, I’m sure you’re looking for some inspiration when it comes to what you can do with Mexican Chocolate! 

Thankful it is such a versatile ingredient that it is often used in Mexican breakfast, lunch, and dinner for both sweet and savory foods. Below is a list of some of the best recipes that use chocolate to get you started. 

  • Mexican Hot Chocolate – A disk melted in warm milk creating a delicious drink that is less sweet than regular hot chocolates. 
  • Mole Sauce – A sauce made of chocolate, chilies, and spices designed to be poured over savory dishes such as enchiladas or meat.
  • Churros with Chocolate Sauce – Melted and used for dipping churros or other sweets.
  • Champurrado – Another warm traditional Mexican drink that combines corn, chocolate, and cinnamon. 
  • Tamales – It may sound odd to add chocolate to your savory tamales but the subtly of Mexican chocolate actually compliments the other fillings very nicely. 

Substitutes for Mexican Chocolate

If you can’t get your hands on some delicious Mexican delicacy but still want to make any of the recipes above, there are some substitutions you can make to try and achieve the same flavors. 

When using any of the substitutes, remember that you are aiming to balance the sweetness, spiciness, and texture to mimic that of Mexican chocolate. 

  • Cocoa Powder and Cinnamon – Blend cocoa powder with a dash of cinnamon. This brings depth to recipes that call for both sweetness and warmth.
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate with Spices – Add a pinch of cinnamon or a touch of nutmeg to semi-sweet chocolate if making a dessert that calls for Mit. 
  • Dark Chocolate and Ground Cinnamon – For a deeper, less sweet option, opt for dark chocolate and a little ground cinnamon. You can easily adjust the ratio to your own preference with this option. 
  • Cacao Nibs and Spices – For a more authentic touch, grind cacao nib with spices like cinnamon, vanilla, or a hint of chili powder until you have a coarse texture similar to Mexican chocolate. 
  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate with Almond Extract – Adding a drop of almond extract to semi-sweet chocolate creates a nutty undertone that is common in Mexican chocolate however this is best reserved for recipes that already compliment almond flavors. 

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