Recipe: Spicy hot chocolate (<i>Champurrado</i>)

Soul-satisfying: This hot chocolate drink, champurrado, is thickened with masa.

Soul-satisfying: This hot chocolate drink, champurrado, is thickened with masa.

(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Total time: 40 minutes

Servings: Makes about 5 quarts(20 1-cup servings)

Note: Adapted from Patricia Rubalcava. Abuelita and Ibarra Mexican chocolate tablets are available at most grocery stores. Champurrado can be garnished with cinnamon sticks, if desired.

2 (4-inch) cinnamon sticks

1/2 pound fresh masa (1 heaping cup), divided

4 (3.15-ounce) Mexican chocolate tablets, broken into small pieces

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 (15-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 quart milk

Sugar, if desired, to taste

1. In a 2-gallon stock pot, bring 2 quarts of water and the cinnamon sticks to a boil over high heat.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender, combine half of the masa with 1 quart water to form a slurry (the blender should be three-fourths full). Add the rest of the masa to the slurry and blend to combine. Add the masa slurry in a thin, steady stream to the cinnamon water and stir to combine, still over high heat.

3. Add the chocolate pieces to the blender, along with the evaporated and condensed milks. Blend the chocolate mixture completely, then slowly stir it into the stock pot. Stir in the milk.

4. Continue to cook until the mixture comes to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Adjust the consistency by whisking in additional masa as desired, gently boiling the mixture a few minutes to allow the masa to cook and thicken. Adjust sweetness as desired with sugar.

5. Remove the champurrado from the heat and strain to remove the cinnamon sticks. Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate until needed. It will keep for 3 days refrigerated.

Each serving: 210 calories; 5 grams protein; 31 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 8 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 17 mg. cholesterol; 88 mg. sodium.