Mexican Chocolate

from Saveur, April 2009

ibarraTraditional Mexican chocolate, with its intensely tannic, spicy flavor, is an essential ingredient for complex moles, or sauces, like the ones chef Rick Bayless makes at his Chicago restaurant Topolobampo (see page 70; a recipe for his pork with mole negro sauce appears on the previous two pages). Unlike European-style baking chocolate, traditional Mexican chocolate is never conched (rolled together with vanilla, sugar, and cocoa butter until it becomes smooth). Instead, the cacao beans are coarsely ground, toasted, and combined with cinnamon and ground almonds; then the mixture is molded into cylinders or disks. While the best Mexican chocolate is still handmade on a grinding stone, there are several good commercial brands widely available in the states. The most popular is Ibarra ($4.25 per 18.6-ounce box). –Ben Conniff

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3 comments so far

  1. fifteenthlife on

    I find the spiciness and chocolate with a hint of cinnamon utterly mouthwatering. What is your favorite recipe for mole or a drizzle sauce for Mexican chocolate cake? I sell cake in jars on Etsy so I am always looking for improvements to my own recipes.

    • Ben Conniff on

      I have to say I’ve never used Mexican chocolate for a dessert–my desserts have a long way to go to catch up with savory dishes. I love the mole sauce in the recipe that accompanied my piece in Saveur, which is for pork. Here’s the link: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Pork-with-Mole-Negro-Sauce. Sorry I can’t be more useful when it comes to cake, but it sounds delicious.

      • fifteenthlife on

        Thanks for the link– looks fantastic. As soon as I get a nicer kitchen I will be all over that recipe. For now, counter space is sparse. However, I do manage to bake my jars… you could check them out on my site EmilysEdibles.etsy.com — let me know what you think!

        I wonder if Whole Foods has the Mexican Chocolate. There are no bodegas around here (Michigan). I’ll definitely search it out though, perhaps it would make my Mexican jar cake even better 🙂

        I’m definitely a dessert chef more than savory dish lady. Maybe we should trade secrets to help e/o balance them kitchen skills!


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