Chocolate caliente, also known as Mexican hot chocolate, is a deliciously spicy take on North American hot chocolate. This copycat Starbucks Mexican hot chocolate mix features rich chocolate flavor infused with cinnamon and ancho chili powder to create a tasty cold weather drink that satisfies your sweet tooth and warms you up from the tip of your toes to the top of your head!
It's so delicious, you'll never stop at Starbucks again! Well, at least not for hot chocolate.
Years ago, I was a Starbucks Mexican hot chocolate fiend. If I was ever out and about during the winter, you could be guaranteed that I would head to Starbucks to grab a Mexican hot chocolate.
It was so delicious, but it was also so expensive! I had no idea until I started noticing that my money wasn't going as far as it used to. When I sat down and really looked at how much those hot chocolates were costing me, I vowed never to buy one again. After all, I can cook!
I decided that I could make a better, more authentic version than Starbucks ever could anyway. You see, the only thing that's really in a Starbucks Mexican hot chocolate is cinnamon, which is only one of a few ingredients that you'll find in an authentic Mexican hot chocolate.
While it is delicious it is not actually Mexican hot chocolate, but this chocolate caliente is!
What is Starbucks Mexican Hot Chocolate
To understand why I loved Starbucks Mexican hot chocolate and why it's not actually what its name says it is, you have to take a look at what's in it. If you want to try this drink, be aware that it's a secret menu item, which means you'll have to ask for it specifically.
You might even have to ask for specific ingredients from Starbucks secret menu when you have it made. Not all servers know that it exists or how to make it so it helps to have the recipe handy!
To get a Mexican hot chocolate, ask your Starbucks server for a regular hot chocolate made with milk or soy milk - no water!
Then, ask them to add mocha syrup (1 pump tall, 1.5 grande, 2 venti), white mocha syrup (1 pump tall, 1.5 grande, 2 venti), and cinnamon dolce syrup (2 pumps tall, 3 grande, 4 venti).
Then, top is off by asking them to add cinnamon powder to the milk when it's being steamed. There you have it. A Starbucks Mexican hot chocolate. It's a great little drink, but once you try my chocolate caliente mix, you'll be hooked on it for life.
What is Actual Mexican Hot Chocolate
Real, authentic Mexican hot chocolate couldn't be farther away from the Starbucks version. True Mexican hot chocolate has an incredibly rich chocolate flavor, much more so than any other kind of hot chocolate that I've ever had.
In addition, it has a spicy kick that regular hot chocolate doesn't. This is owed to the addition of ancho chili powder or regular chili powder with red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper. What you end up with is a delicious, rich chocolate flavor loaded with both sweet and heat.
It's the perfect thing during the winter because it warms you right up, and the spicy kick actually works amazingly well with the rich chocolate flavor.
This Mexican hot chocolate powder mix recipe is a definite keeper.
History of Mexican Hot Chocolate (Chocolate Caliente)
Before we get into making my tasty chocolate caliente mix, I want to talk a little bit about the history of Mexican hot chocolate. It might seem odd that people in such a hot area of the world would drink what most of us consider to be a winter beverage, but believe it or not, hot chocolate actually originated in Mexico!
Because I love learning about food as much as I love eating it, I want to take a quick look at the history of hot chocolate before we continue on.
Hot chocolate, also called hot cocoa or drinking chocolate, has been around for thousands of years. Food historians believe it was created by the Mayan people around 2,500 to 3,000 years ago.
Archaeologists have found evidence that Mayan chocolate was consumed as early as 500 BC, and they speculate that chocolate might even predate the Mayans.
The first chocolate drinks were served cold and made with a paste made of ground cocoa seeds which as mixed with cater, cornmeal, chili peppers, and various other ingredients. Then, the drink was poured back and forth from a cup to a pot until a thick foam formed.
Unlike modern hot chocolate, the original hot chocolate was bitter, as sugar had yet to arrive in the Americas. Upon trying the drink, Spanish explorers described it as being made up of a chocolate base flavored with vanilla and other spices that was served cold.
It was a spicy, bitter drink as opposed to the ultra sweet modern hot chocolate that most of us drink. Food historians know that hot chocolate was originally served cold, but no one knows exactly when it began to be served hot.
However, they point to a possible date of around the late 16th century. Around this time, Jose de Acosta, a Spanish Jesuit missionary who live in Peru and later Mexico described the drink as:
Loathsome to such as are not acquainted with it, having a scum or froth that is very unpleasant taste. Yet it is a drink very much esteemed among the Indians, where with they feast noble men who pass through their country.
The Spaniards, both men and women, that are accustomed to the country, are very greedy of this Chocolate. They say they make diverse sorts of it, some hot, some cold, and some temperate, and put therein much of that "chili"; yea, they make paste thereof, the which they say is good for the stomach and against the catarrh.
Over centuries, Europeans and then Americans adapted the original form of hot chocolate into what we know as the sweet, hot version that we all drink today. Even authentic Mexican hot chocolate is actually an adaptation of the original drink.
Modern Latin American countries are more passionate about hot chocolate that just about any group of people in the world, and while they may have sweetened the drink over the centuries, that core spiciness remains.
My chocolate caliente mix stays true to what Mexican hot chocolate truly is. It's rich and extra chocolaty, and it features that classic kick of spicy heat that makes it all work so well.
I guarantee you've never tried a hot chocolate with such deep, rich chocolate flavor in your life, and unless you've actually been to Latin America, you've probably never had it with the signature spices that his mix has either.
It's a deliciously rich and spicy drink that will satisfy you like no other hot chocolate you've ever had. And bonus: it's super easy to make this mix! Get ready for a spicy trip to chocolate land with this one. It's AH-mazing.
Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix Ingredients
It only takes a few simple ingredients to make my authentic chocolate caliente. You might have to by a few of these ingredients especially for the mix, but they're readily available at any grocery store.
A quick trip to the store gets you all the ingredients you need to make this tasty Mexican hot chocolate mix! Here's everything required:
- unsweetened chocolate
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- nonfat dry milk powder
- vanilla extract
- ground cinnamon
- ancho chile powder (or regular chili powder and dried crushed red pepper flakes)
- kosher salt
- cayenne pepper
That's all there is to it. The last ingredient on the list of this Mexican hot chocolate powder mix is reserved for when it's time to turn your powder into a delicious drink! Simply mix the powder with hot milk, and you've got yourself rich, delicious chocolate caliente.
Better than any Starbucks Mexican hot chocolate recipe and I kid you not.
Making Mexican Hot Chocolate
Making this recipe is as easy as gathering the ingredients. The only real work involved at all is chopping the chocolate. You'll find the complete recipe along with amounts in the recipe card below, but the outline you're about to see is pretty much the entire recipe. That's how easy it is to make this one!
- Begin by chopping chocolate with a knife, as fine as you possibly can, and toss it in a large bowl.
- Add cocoa, cinnamon, sugar, milk powder, cornstarch, chile powder (or regular chili powder and dried crushed red pepper flakes), salt, and pepper.
- Stir until blended.
- Add vanilla and drizzle throughout the dry mixture and stir again.
- When ready to make, heat milk on the stove until almost boiling and add ¼ cup of the hot cocoa mix.
- Stir until milk and chocolate are dissolved together, chocolate is completely melted and remove from heat.
- Pour into a mug and top with whipped cream and shaved or finely chopped chocolate.
And there you have it. Chocolate caliente. Just a few simple ingredients mixed together is all it takes! When you're ready to serve it add it to hot milk, and you're ready to enjoy this delicious chocolate treat.
Serving Chocolate Caliente
To serve up this delicious drink, simply heat up a pot of milk and mix in the dry Mexican hot chocolate powder. Top with whipped cream and cinnamon, and you, your family, and your friends will all be in sweet and spicy Heaven.
This drink is perfect all throughout fall and winter. Serve it on any day when the weather is dreary and the temperature is low. It's also a nice way to add a spicy kick to special events like Thanksgiving and Christmas as a post-dinner dessert!
Storing Chocolate Caliente
Storing this Mexican hot chocolate mix is super easy! As it's simply a combination of spices and shaved chocolate, it will keep for a long time in a cool, dry place. Simply look at the expiration dates on your ingredients. The earliest sell-by date should be how long you can store this mix. Super simple!
Chocolate Caliente - A Tasty Treat Featuring Sweet and Heat
This Mexican hot chocolate is absolutely delicious. Featuring a rich, deep chocolate flavor and kicked up with spicy additions like ancho chili and cayenne, you'll be warmed through and through and enjoy every second of it.
It's the perfect drink for the cold winter months, and making this easy powdered mix is super simple. Give this chocolate caliente mix a try, and I guarantee you'll never go back to regular hot chocolate again!
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Chocolate Caliente - Starbucks Copycat
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate chopped as fine as you can get it
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ cup nonfat dry milk powder
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon ancho chile powder (or ¾ teaspoon regular chili powder and ⅛ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes instead)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch cayenne pepper
MAKING A CUP OF HOT CHOCOLATE
- 1 cup milk
- Get out and measure all of your ingredients.
- Carefully chop chocolate into the smallest pieces you can using a sharp knife and place inside a large bowl.
- Add cocoa, cinnamon, chili powder and pepper to your chopped chocolate.
- Add dry milk powder, salt and cornstarch.
- Add vanilla and mix throughout the dry mixture.
- On the stove, add 1 cup of milk and heat until it nearly boils.
- Add ¼ of the hot cocoa mix to the hot milk.
- Stir until dissolved.
- Pour into a mug.
- Top with whipped cream and chocolate chunks. Enjoy every sip!