We have a tradition in El Paso that accompanies cold, Winter days.  It’s a Mexican favorite called champurrado.  It’s a Mexican version of hot chocolate which is also called atole.  Every culture and every part of the country has a special drink for Winter (I like my Starbucks!) and this is unique to our family, to say the least.  A heads up:  like all holiday goodies this drink does fill you up and it is fattening!  Sorry!  It can be drunk at any time of the year, such as important events like Mother’s day, birthdays, and of course, the holidays, but you can enjoy it best when the weather is a cold outside and you are sitting right beside a cozy fire.


Prep Time:                 10 minutes
Cook Time:                 10 minutes
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2  cups milk
  • 1/4 cup masa harina (or 1/3 cup nixtamal)
  • 1 disk Mexican chocolate, chopped (Abuelita is the best option)
  • 3 piloncillo cones, small, (one ounce each) chopped
  • 1 pinch of anise seed, ground (optional)
In a large pot, whisk masa harina into the warm water until thoroughly combined.  Add milk, chocolate, piloncillo and anise. Bring to a simmer and whisk with a molinillo (a special tool to whip the drink) until chocolate is melted and sugar is dissolved.  It will be thick.
Tip:   The mixture can be strained through a fine sieve before serving if a smoother champurrado is desired.
Here is the recipe for atole, another Mexican version of hot chocolate.  It is similar to champurrado but champurrado is thicker:
Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  10 minutes
  • 1/3 cup masa harina blended with 1/4 cup warm water in blender)
  • 3 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar or piloncillo
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla or one vanilla bean
Heat all ingredients (except for any toppings you may be using) in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat while stirring.  Bring to a simmer and continue to stir frequently for 20-25 minutes until thickened.  If used, remove the cinnamon stick and/or vanilla bean. Pour into mugs or thick glasses.  Serves 2-3

Mmmmm....champurrado! Doesn't that look delicious?


This is the "wisk" that is used to mix the ingredients.

Atole is more like a thick, hot chocolate but thinner than champurrado.

One Response to Champurrado

  1. pastore says:

    I am visiting my son and his mfaily in SLC for Christmas 2009. This will be the first time in years that all my grandchildren and a great grandchild will be together, We are all getting together for mole and enchiladas suisse and thought tamales would be a great addition. Your essay about the tamale man is so interesting and I wonder if you would forward his phone number to me. Thanks alot. Cuyler McLaren

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