Kid-friendly Ancient Inca Hot Chocolate Dipping Sauce Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Ancient Inca Hot Chocolate Dipping Sauce

Recipe: Ancient Inca Hot Chocolate Dipping Sauce

Ancient Inca Hot Chocolate Dipping Sauce

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by NADKI/
prep time
5 minutes
cook time
5 minutes
6-11 servings

Fun Food Story

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Ancient Inca Hot Chocolate Dipping Sauce

Some people say the best accompaniment to churros is a thick, gooey, chocolatey dip. Who are we to argue?

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • simmer :

    to cook a food gently, usually in a liquid, until softened.

Equipment Checklist



Ancient Inca Hot Chocolate Dipping Sauce

  • 2 T cocoa powder, dark or milk chocolate is fine **(for CHOCOLATE ALLERGY sub carob powder)**
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch mild chili powder **(Omit for NIGHTSHADE ALLERGY)**
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Food Allergen Substitutions

Ancient Inca Hot Chocolate Dipping Sauce

  • Chocoloate: Substitute carob powder for cocoa powder.
  • Nightshade: Omit mild chili powder.


Ancient Inca Hot Chocolate Dipping Sauce

measure + simmer

Measure 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 pinch mild chili powder, 1 pinch cinnamon, 1/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch and combine in a small pot. Bring all the ingredients to a simmer over medium-low heat. After 5 minutes of simmering, the sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Serve this ancient sauce alongside Cinnamon Dusted Peruvian Churro Bites (see recipe) for a match made in heaven.

Surprise Ingredient: Chocolate + Cocoa!

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Photo by New Africa/

Hi! I'm Chocolate!

"Hello! Let me introduce myself! I can be dark brown, light brown, or even white. I'm sometimes bitter, sometimes a little sweet, and often very sweet. I add flavor and excitement to many other foods! Have you guessed yet? I'm Chocolate! You may be familiar with me from candy bars or chocolate sundaes, but I can liven up many other foods, too, including chili, butter, and milk!"


  • The cacao (kahKOW) tree is native to equatorial South America and the rainforests of Mesoamerica. It was first used 5,300 years ago by indigenous people in South America. Mesoamericans who lived in the rainforests of Mexico and Central America domesticated the tree about 1,500 years later. They drank chocolate as a bitter beverage—far from the sweet treat most of us are familiar with today. 
  • The Mayan people of Central and South America used cocoa as currency and as medicine: it was very valuable, just like vanilla! In fact, it was so precious that they made counterfeit cocoa beans out of clay and avocado seeds!
  • The Aztec people are a nomadic tribe in Northern Mexico. When the Aztec empire began to expand, they demanded that the Mayan people pay tribute to them through gifts of cacao. 
  • The Aztec people ruled until Spaniards arrived and conquered the land and its people. The Spanish explorers took cacao beans back to Europe, where they experimented by adding cinnamon and sugar to sweeten it. For a long time, only aristocratic people enjoyed chocolate.
  • Princess Maria Theresa married Louis the 16th from France and gave him chocolate as a wedding present! Demand for chocolate soon grew very fast, and as a result, people were enslaved on plantations to grow cacao to meet the high demand.
  • In 1847, Joseph Fry invented the first chocolate bar. By 1907, Hershey was manufacturing millions of chocolate kisses each day.  
  • Cacao trees grow best in the rainforest underneath the branches of taller trees. However, they won't bear fruit until they are at least three to five years old. 
  • Most early Spanish sources refer to chocolate as "cacahuatl" (cah-cah-Hwat), which translates to "cacao water."
  • The word chocolate comes from a combination of a Mayan word for hot, "chocol," and an Aztec word for water, "atl."

How Chocolate is Made

  • All chocolate comes from the beans of the cacao tree. Cacao trees produce pods containing pulp-covered seeds. Before cacao is processed, it would be hard for most of us to recognize it as chocolate! This is because the pulp-covered seeds taste bitter and raw and look nothing like the chocolate products we see in stores.
  • The seeds go through a process called fermentation, and then they are dried and made into nibs before being turned into chocolate. 
  • A cacao pod contains about 30 to 50 almond-sized seeds—enough to make about seven milk chocolate candy bars! 
  • After roasting and grinding cocoa beans, chocolate liquor is left, which is about equal parts cocoa solids and cocoa butter. After the cocoa butter is mostly extracted, the result is dry cocoa solids. Cocoa powder is the powdered form. Natural cocoa is a light brown color and tastes bitter. 

  • Dutch chemist Coenraad van Houten created the "Dutch process" method in the early 19th century to reduce the acidity in natural cocoa powder by treating the beans with alkaline salts. As a result, Dutch process cocoa is less bitter and has a dark brown color.

How to Enjoy Cocoa & Chocolate

  • You can add unsweetened cocoa to milk with sugar, honey, or stevia for a delicious and warming beverage. You can also add it to smoothies for a delicious chocolaty taste and an extra hit of magnesium and polyphenols. 
  • Chocolate comes in many forms: bars, kisses, chips, powder, shavings, puddings, syrups, and sauces.
  • Unconventional chocolate flavor pairings: cardamom, lavender, wasabi, chili, chipotle, sea salt, lime, matcha, curry, ginger, mint, figs, fennel, sesame, parmesan, and Earl Grey tea. Seriously, what doesn't go well with chocolate?! Can you think of any other fun and delicious pairings?


  • Dark chocolate helps protect your heart, blood, and brain! To get the full health benefits of chocolate, choose at least 85% cocoa content or higher. The higher percentage makes the chocolate more bitter, but those bitter compounds, called polyphenols, are antioxidants that provide several health benefits. Many people prefer very dark chocolate!
  • Polyphenols help prevent heart disease by maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, keeping vessels flexible and allowing the blood in our body to flow easier (good circulation), and reducing inflammation. In addition, they help control blood sugar levels, lower cancer risk, and boost immunity. Polyphenols also promote good digestion.  
  • Cocoa is a great source of magnesium. We need magnesium for good health! For strong bones, healthy teeth, and as a building block for proteins within the body.
  • Cocoa can protect our teeth?! Cacao contains antibacterial elements that fight tooth decay. However, this is true with unsweetened cocoa only, as most mass-produced chocolate has a lot of sugar. We know what sugar does to our teeth—it causes decay! 
  • One study has shown that the smell of chocolate may actually relax you by increasing theta waves in the brain!

History of Chocolate Sauce!

Photo by Africa Studio/
  • Chocolate syrup was first produced commercially by the Hershey Company in 1926. However, it is believed that some pharmacists in the late 1800s created their own chocolate syrups using Hershey's cocoa to help mask the taste of some medicines. 
  • Chocolate sauce or syrup is a dessert topping made from cocoa powder, sugar, and water. As a thinner syrup, you can blend it with milk or ice cream to make chocolate milk or a milkshake or drizzle it on ice cream, fruit, crepes, waffles, or cakes. As a thicker sauce, you can heat it to dip churros into or add some to the bottom of a thick sundae glass and add ice cream to make a hot fudge sundae!

Let's Learn About Peru!

Photo by Ruslana Iurchenko/
  • Peru is the third largest country on the South American continent, after Brazil and Argentina. It is on the western coast, next to the Pacific Ocean.
  • Peru shares borders with five countries: Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile.
  • Lima is Peru's capital and largest city. The country's official languages are Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, and other indigenous languages.
  • Peru is a unitary presidential republic with a president, vice-president, prime minister, and congress. Its currency is the Peruvian sol. 
  • The land area of Peru is 496,225 square miles. It is larger than the state of Texas but smaller than Alaska. Over 34 million people live in Peru. 
  • Peru's landscape has beaches, deserts, mountains, and rainforests. Most people live along the coast, where the capital, Lima, is located. 
  • Machu Picchu, the "lost city of the Incas," is located in Peru and is one of the World's New Seven Wonders. It was built by hand in the Sacred Valley over 8,000 feet above sea level and rediscovered in 1911. You have to hike or take a bus to get to Machu Picchu. 
  • The Giant Andean Condor is the largest flying bird on Earth and can be found in Peru.
  • Guinea pigs are a delicacy eaten in Peru! They are called "cuy" (pronounced "Coo-wee").
  • The Amazon River starts in Peru and runs through six other South American countries. Some consider the Amazon the world's longest river; however, other experts say that honor belongs to the Nile River in Africa.
  • The Andes mountain range, at 4,300 miles, is the longest above-water mountain range in the world. It runs through seven countries, north to south, including Peru. 
  • Over half of Peru is covered by forest, much of it rainforest.
  • Peru is home to an extensive and diverse selection of plants and animals. Yet Peruvians have not impacted their natural world like many other countries, and many of these ecosystems have been undisturbed.
  • Did you know that in less than half a square mile of the Peruvian rainforest, there are more than 6,000 kinds of plants?
  • Some of the main crops of Peru have been cultivated for thousands of years. A few of those crops are quinoa, potatoes, beans, peppers, maize, and tomatoes. The potato originated in Peru. 
  • Peru's cuisine has been influenced by its indigenous population, including the Inca, and cuisines brought in by colonizers and immigrants from Europe, Asia, and West Africa. Without familiar ingredients from their home countries, immigrants modified their traditional cuisines with those native to Peru. 
  • "Chifa" (CHEE-fa) is one of these cuisines, combining foods Chinese immigrants brought to Peru in the 19th and early 20th centuries with Peruvian ingredients.
  • "Ceviche" (seh-VEE-chay) is a seafood dish that originated in Peru. Chunks of raw, fresh fish are marinated in key lime juice, seasoned with chili peppers, coriander, julienned onion, salt, and pepper.  

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Peru?

  • Peruvian kids attend school from March to December. Peru is in the Southern Hemisphere, so its seasons are opposite those of the Northern Hemisphere, with summer months from November to March. 
  • Families are close in Peru, and kids enjoy family gatherings with many relatives. 
  • Peruvian kids like to play a game called Sapo, where they try to toss coins into holes on top of a box. The winner is the first to get a coin into the frog's mouth (one of the holes in the box). Kids also enjoy playing with marbles. 
  • Football (soccer) is the most popular sport in Peru, so you can often find kids playing football together. They may also play volleyball or basketball.  
  • There are several sweets kids like to eat. "Alfajores" are Spanish sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche. "Picarones" are Peruvian doughnuts made from squash and sweet potato. They are often covered with "chancaca," a syrup made from the raw sugar of the sugar cane with added orange zest. Finally, kids may have ice cream or shakes made with "lúcuma" (an Andean fruit) for a cool treat.

The Yolk's On You

What do you call people who like to drink hot chocolate all year long? 


THYME for a Laugh

What do you call a sheep covered in chocolate? 

A Candy Baa!

THYME for a Laugh

What do you call stolen cocoa? 

Hot chocolate!

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