All those jokes you hear about Midwestern winters are true. In Chicago, we deal with a lot of snow and extreme cold from September (yes, it’s that early) through March (sigh, it’s actually more like April). And snow… so much snow (thanks, Lake Michigan).

Growing up, I loved to ice skate. I would walk to our local park with my skates and spend hours with my friends on the ice trying to master that perfect spin. It was the perfect way to be outside, and it made winter so much more fun. Whenever we got too cold, we would walk back to one of our houses and whip up a nice cup of hot chocolate. It was the perfect thing to comfort us after hours in the cold—and it still is, of course. The only difference is we do things a little bit fancier now!

Chocolat’s hot chocolate recipe—a revelation! 

When I saw the movie Chocolat, I flat out could not believe that anyone would (or could!) put ground chiles in hot chocolate. This is definitely one of those cases where you should try not to knock it till you’ve tried it. It’s so good. Add a splash of vanilla — ahem, how about my Cognac Barrel-Aged Vanilla — to elevate your cocoa from “hot drink” to “rich, warm elixir”—and of course, don’t forget the cinnamon.

What toppings do you use for a perfect cup of Mexican hot chocolate?

Finishing touches are totally up to you, but as I’ve said before:  More is more. I like to top my cup with a heaping mound of freshly whipped cream. You can also add marshmallows, chocolate shavings, cajeta, or dulce de leche if you like. If you want to sweeten things up even more, try a cookie (or two) alongside your mug. My Alfajores (dulce de leche sandwich cookies) and my Amaretti cookies go so well with this Mexican Hot Chocolate. 

Whether you’re coming back from a day at the ice skating rink or curling up in front of the fireplace, grab a mug and get ready for chocolate—this Mexican style cocoa will warm you from the inside out.

Yield: Serves 6


Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 10 MinTotal time: 25 Min
Have a mug of hot chocolate any day, but especially on January 31. It’s National Hot Chocolate Day!


  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste (I use my own homemade vanilla extract—and you can too!)
  • ¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder (for a tamer chile) or chile de arbol (for extra spice)
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Whipped cream
  • Marshmallows
  • Dulce de leche
  • Cajeta
  • Chocolate shavings


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, chile powder and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Add the chopped bittersweet chocolate. Allow the milk to simmer while whisking constantly until the chocolate is completely melted.
  3. Divide the mixture into 6 mugs or coffee cups. Top with garnishes of your choice. Although I LOVE adding chocolate shavings, you can add one (or more!) of the toppings I listed in the recipe. But don't stop there. Get creative and try some other additions. How about some crushed peppermint on top of the whipped cream? Or better yet, make an "adult version" by adding some Irish cream or coffee-flavored liqueur. Yum!
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @blameitonbiscotti on instagram and hashtag it #mexicanhotchocolate
January 03, 2022 — Mary DiSomma