Saturday, January 15, 2011

Atole / Champurrado

If you’re like me you love to discover new things. I often come across new things I’ve never heard of before, sometimes it will be through people I talk too or articles I read on various blogs. However the case, I really do strive for those moments of inspiration and discovery. If you haven’t notice I have added some new Links to the right of this page with various Blog writers and web sites that feature food most of the time. From what I gather, these writers are from all over America and from other parts of the world. I’ve always thought to myself what a wonderful resourse to learn from.

This past week I was reading an article from “David Lebovits’s Blog”. The article was entitled “Atole”. This is the first time I have ever heard of this. Simply it’s a Mexican hot (Atole) chocolate also referred to as Champurrado. From all the background reading I’ve done on this drink, it’s mostly seen during Los Posadas (Christmas) and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
The Drink was compared to “crème anglaise” in the article, but I’ll be truthful, I haven’t a bloody clue what Crème anglaise is like. I have heard of it, but I have never tasted or made it. So, like all things that are a mystery to me I Googled the crap out of it. Here is what Wikipedia told me: Crème anglaise (French for "English cream") is a lightly pouring custard used as a dessert cream or sauce. It is a mix of sugar, egg yolks and hot milk, often flavored with vanilla.

So this new drink is still perking my interest and has me even more curious to what it’s all about. I know that this drink runs deep in Mexican culinary culture. From what I have read it goes as far back to Mayan culture which makes much since. Most know the background of chocolate and its roots with Mayan culture. So after reading all this information about this drink I start to see why this drink has spanned the test of time. Well firstly, it’s most commonly done with chocolate. And we all know how great chocolate makes things. You can pretty much cover anything in chocolate and POOF! Delicious! Well, almost anything, I would never cover a turd with it and eat it.

What appeals to me about Atole is how it can be morphed into whatever you want. The recipe is basic and allows for many possibilities with fruit and spices or maybe some types of meat or fish or even shellfish. I’m looking at this drink kind of like I look at Mole’ as a sauce.

In its basic form it sure does open a door of possibilities. But, first and foremost, try this just as it was meant to be, in a coffee cup with a spoon and the traditional tamale at its side.

Atole  (this Recipe was used from “David Lebovits” blog)

makes 6 cups

This recipe makes quite a bit and you’re welcome to cut the recipe in half. The chefs told me that sometimes people use rice or oat flour in place of the corn starch. To get the seeds out of a vanilla pod, split the bean lengthwise and use the blade of the knife to carefully scrape out the seeds. The pod should be reserved for another use, such as infusing poaching liquid or tucked in a bin of sugar to perfume it.

They don’t use much sugar in their Atole but you might want to increase the amount to taste. If you can get Mexican piloncillo sugar, this is a good place to use it.

1/3 cup (40g) corn starch
6 cups (1.5l) whole milk
1/3 cup (65g) sugar
the seeds of 1 vanilla bean, preferably Mexican

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the corn starch with about 1 cup (250ml) of the milk until the corn starch is dissolved and there are no lumps.

2. Pour the rest of the milk, the sugar, and the vanilla seeds into a large pot, then gradually whisk in the corn starch mixture.

3. Cook the mixture at a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly and vigorously, until the Atole is thickened to the consistency of runny pudding. It will take about two or three minutes.

4. Remove from heat and strain the Atole through a mesh sieve before serving it.

Serving: Atole is served warm. If made in advance and you wish to reheat it, it will likely thicken quite a bit. If so, add some additional milk to thin it out.

I’m thinking that if the snow comes like they say it will in my neck of the woods this would be fun to make and experience. I think if you have kids they will enjoy it as well. Of course this will completely blow your diet plans for the New Year but I think this is a worthy cause to slide back into sweat pants for a few hours.


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