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Champurrado {Atole de Chocolate}

Mi esposo?  He's a fabulous storyteller.  He can mimic voices and movements and the slightest intonations that others may not pick up on.  Expertly, I might add.  I love it when he talks about the food and cooking going on in his abuelita's kitchen.  Homemade tortillas and beverages hot from the stove inevitably conjure up visions of the tales he's woven for us.  

For example, I know that his abuelito had a mouth of steel!  He built his wife a huge L-shaped "cooking corner" of sorts...ith a hole cut out where the two sides meet for lowering earthen cooking vessels, large and small.  Wood can be tucked in on the sides and pushed deeper inside to stoke up the fire.  On one side, she had a huge metate on which she would grind the masa early in the morning for making things like tortillas and atole.  As she worked her way around that "L", she'd ladle steaming atole into a waiting jarro and pass it over to her husband.  Then she'd toss the first tortilla into his calloused hands.  He'd quickly roll it up and scoop a big helping of salsa into his mouth.  And then...then he would grab that still-steaming mug of atole and slurp it into his mouth.  As if to wash down hot with hot.  I imagine his mouth and throat must have been calloused, as well.  When hubby tells the story, he makes the noise that his abuelo would make when he took a drink.  Imagine sucking air in at the same time as you're drawing in a big gulp of steaming liquid.  And that's how it was.  Every morning for many, many years.

To this day, every time I hand him a mug of steaming coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or atole...we both grin as he makes "the noise" and takes a sip.  Emulating the grandfather he loves so deeply.  This Champurrado is just the thing for warming you up on a cold morning or after a romp in the snow.  The masa thickens it and assures you with every sip that it is sticking to your ribs like an internal blanket.  I love the flavor that anise seeds lend.  If you don't like them, feel free to leave them out and add a stick of canela instead.  This is comfort in a cup.
Champurrado (Atole de Chocolate)
Masa-Thickened Hot Chocolate
adapted from: Authentic Mexican
yield: 4-6 servings (~1 quart)

½ c. masa harina
2 c. warm water
2 c. milk
4 oz. Mexican chocolate, chopped
2 ½ oz. Piloncillo, chopped
½ tsp. anise seeds, crushed
pinch of sea salt

Combine masa harina and water in the jar of a blender.  Blend until smooth and pour into a medium pot.  

Pour milk into blender and shake it around to get all of the masa that has been left behind.  Pour this into the pot, as well.

Add chopped chocolate, piloncillo, crushed anise seeds, and sea salt.  

Bring to  a simmer, whisking almost constantly.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer and whisk for ~5 minutes, or until sugar and chocolate are dissolved and the liquid has thickened.

Pour into mugs or glasses and serve immediately.  You can strain this if you like, but I love the rustic charm of the bits of anise seed, masa, and Mexican chocolate.