A more-or-less faithful modern interpretation of the bitter Aztec drink.
- 2 oz. extra-dark chocolate (should be 85% cocoa or more).
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- Very spicy chili peppers (e.g. habaneros), amount varies
- Vanilla extract (or vanilla beans, but extract is more convenient)
- Spices such as cloves, cinammon (annato seeds or "achiote" is traditional)
- Honey or sugar
- Lots of ice
- Course paper filter or fine wire mesh strainer
- Skillet, saucepan
- Toast cornmeal in dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. When cornmeal turns a dark tan or light brown color, add 2 cups water, stir, and remove from heat. Let cornmeal soak in water overnight.
- Grind cornmeal in blender until it forms a smooth paste. Filter or strain the paste to remove the coarse corn mush. The goal is to make a smooth but thick gel to be used as an emulsifier and thickener. (It may be possible to substitute something made of cornstarch instead.) Discard the mush and set aside the strained gel.
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut open the chili peppers and remove the seeds. Add the peppers to the boiling water and boil them until the amount of liquid is reduced to 1 cup. The liquid should be pale yellow and taste very spicy. Discard peppers and set aside liquid.
- Add chocolate and 1 cup water to saucepan. Stir frequently over medium heat until chocolate is melted. Slowly add cornmeal gel (you might want to decant it so that any settled lumps or grit remain at the bottom). Add vanilla, spices, and sweetener if desired. Slowly add pepper liquid until the desired spiciness is reached.
- Transfer mixture to blender, add lots of ice cubes, and blend until smooth and frothy.