Mexican Chocolate

Mexican Chocolate

Other Names
Chocolate para mesa, unconched chocolate

Chocolate as we know it has only existed for a few hundred years. Modern chocolate is “conched” by grinding it for up to 72 hours to give it a smoother texture. Before the Europeans perfected the process of refining chocolate, the cacao bean was used to make a beverage for over 3000 years in Central America.

Mexican chocolate is closer to what chocolate probably tasted like prior to the development of the conching process. It’s very gritty with a crumbly texture that reveals granules of sugar. A look at the ingredients of Ibarra, the most common brand of Mexican chocolate, reveals that there are only 4 ingredients: sugar, cacao nibs, cinnamon and an emulsifier.

What’s it taste like?
It’s typically not eaten straight because of the texture but when mixed with hot water or milk, it makes a fantastic beverage. It’s nutty and sweet with a faint spiciness coming from the cinnamon.

Where do I get it?
Grocery stores in North America that have a Latin American food section should carry it. Otherwise go to a Latin American specialty food store. Ibarra, the most common brand comes in a yellow and red hexagon shaped box with individually wrapped wheels of chocolate inside.

When is it best?
There’s no season, but it can go rancid if it’s too old. Try to buy it from a store that looks like they go through a lot of it.

How do I use it?
The most common use is for making Mexican hot chocolate by mixing a few wedges of a wheel with a cup of hot water or milk. You can add extra cinnamon or some cayenne pepper for some extra kick. Mixed with Masa Harina and cooked with water it makes a thick porridge-like beverage called atole de chocolate. It’s also added to mole to add sweetness, body and a nutty flavour to the sauce.

It contains a lot of sugar, but the cacao in it is high in iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and anti-oxidants.

  • thepinkpeppercorn

    Great post!! Good to know :) Thanks!

    • Anne

      taza chocolate, from somerville ma, makes a mexicano hot chocolate in 4 flavors and from my experience, taza perfectly replicates what you get in mexico; the one above…not even close

      • OverUnder21

        Isn’t it interesting, 2 supposedly entirely different people posted the same words, “Taza chocolate from somerville, ma” and neither used capital letters for the city and state, and both used the state abbreviation rather than spelling it out. Oddly, people don’t usually say “Hershey chocolate out of Hershey Pennsylvania”, they just say the name of the product. Anyway, hope my point isn’t lost on those reading this. Taza chocolate is very good but you are all shilling a bit much.

  • Jessie

    great post, I love learning new things! very informative :)

  • Colin

    Taza chocolate out of somerville, ma has a hockey puck looking thing for making hot chocolate. Not sure how that compares to what you get in latin american stores.

  • The Hungry Mouse

    What a great post! Love this stuff! It’s one of my favorite ways to make hot chocolate.

    Being a Boston gal, I’ve had that Taza chocolate, and I think it’s pretty much the same type of thing. (It’s super yummy.)


  • zestycook

    Ohhh I like it!!!

  • Holly

    I am working on a salsa recipe that uses Ibarra. I will keep you posted.

  • Samantha

    I personally absolutely love eating it plain, I love the crunchy texture with sugar granules…I rarely if ever make it into hot chocolate :)

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  • Anel Olsson

    beautiful site! And very interesting to learn about the Mexican ingredients. Here in South Africa where I live it is quite hard to source the ingredients, I shall have to ask my Latino friends for advice.

    Well done once again. :)

  • Islamtaher

    this sucks

  • Virgen de Guadalupe

    You use this with MILK, not water. One tablet equals 4 cups of Mexican hot chocolate. You can add cold milk to cool it down some, but just as you would half and half. You would mostly drink it after dinner with bolillos or French bread. Thanks!


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