Kid-friendly Caliente Cinnamon Hot Chocolate Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Caliente Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

Recipe: Caliente Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

Caliente Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Marcos Castillo/Shutterstock.com
prep time
7 minutes
cook time
3 minutes
makes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Caliente Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

Our Caliente Cinnamon Hot Chocolate is a traditional Mexican hot chocolate with cinnamon and ground chili pepper. "Caliente" means "hot" in Spanish, but the spicy heat (or pepper) is optional. Let it warm you up, along with our Rápido Mexican Black Bean Mole served with tortillas or tortilla chips.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • blend :

    to stir together two or more ingredients until just combined; blending is a gentler process than mixing.

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • stir :

    to mix together two or more ingredients with a spoon or spatula, usually in a circle pattern, or figure eight, or in whatever direction you like!

Equipment Checklist

  • Pitcher
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Saucepan
  • Measuring spoons
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Wooden spoon
scale
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2X
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Ingredients

Caliente Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

  • 4 oz (1/4 lb) bittersweet chocolate bar or chocolate chips **(for CHOCOLATE ALLERGY sub carob bar or chips; for DAIRY/NUT/SOY ALLERGY use Enjoy Life brand dark chocolate bar or chips)**
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon or 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 C milk **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free milk)**
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper or black pepper (optional but fun!)
  • sugar, agave syrup, honey, or 2 stevia packets to taste (I used 3 T of agave syrup)

Food Allergen Substitutions

Caliente Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

  • Chocolate: Sub carob bar or chips.
  • Dairy: Use Enjoy Life brand semisweet chocolate bar or chips. Substitute dairy-free/nut-free milk.
  • Nut:  Use Enjoy Life brand semisweet chocolate bar or chips.
  • Soy: Use Enjoy Life brand semisweet chocolate bar or chips.

Instructions

Caliente Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

1.
chop + combine

Chop or grate 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate into fine bits. Combine in a pitcher with either 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or 4 cinnamon sticks.

2.
simmer + pour + stir

Add 4 cups of milk, 1 pinch of salt, and 1 pinch of cayenne or black pepper (if using) to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Once the milk has reached a simmer (about 2 to 3 minutes), immediately pour it into your pitcher and have your kids stir until the chocolate is melted.

3.
cool + sweeten

Let it cool a bit and remove cinnamon sticks (if used). Adjust the sweetness by adding sugar or other sweetener to taste. ¡Salud! or Cheers!

Surprise Ingredient: Chocolate + Cocoa!

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Photo by New Africa/Shutterstock.com

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!"

History

  • 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?

Nutrition

  • 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!

Let's Learn About Mexico!

Photo by Alena Darmel
  • Officially, Mexico's name is "The United Mexican States." It is one of several countries and territories in North America, including Canada and the United States of America.
  • Spanish is Mexico's national language, and Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. Mexican people didn't always speak Spanish, though. For thousands of years, Native Americans lived there and built great cities. The people had advanced language, education, and calendar systems, and they had very clever ways of raising food. Mexico is also the country with the largest number of native American speakers in North America. 
  • The capital of Mexico is Mexico City. Mexican legend says that Aztec leaders were told to build their great city of Tenochtitlan at the site where they saw an eagle sitting on a nopal cactus with a snake in its beak. That image is in the center of Mexico's flag. The Aztecs built their city on an island in the middle of a lake. The ruins of Tenochtitlan are at the center of Mexico City and still sit on top of a lake! As water is pumped out to serve the needs of the city's growing population, the city has been sinking at a rate of 6 to 8 inches per year.  
  • Indigenous Mexican people included the Aztecs in the central interior of the country, the Mayans of the Yucatan peninsula, and the Zapotec of the south. Spanish explorers landed in Mexico in the early 1500s, and they ruled Mexico for over 300 years. During this time of colonization, Mexico's Mesoamerican civilizations mixed with European culture.
  • Before the arrival of Spaniards, native Mexican food primarily consisted of corn, beans, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and herbs. Indigenous people occasionally hunted and added wild turkey, rabbit, deer, and quail to their largely vegetarian diets. Native royalty sipped chocolate drinks. Europeans introduced cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, sugarcane, and wheat to Mexico upon their arrival. 
  • Mexican cuisine uses chili peppers to give it its distinct flavor. Jalapeños, poblanos, and serrano peppers are commonly used in Mexican dishes. Dishes that include mole, a sauce made of dark chocolate, chili peppers, cinnamon, and other spices, may be served on special occasions, such as Día de los Muertos. 

What is it like to be a kid in Mexico?

  • Mexican children may live near the ocean or the gulf, in the desert, or in the mountains. 
  • Kids often live with extended family, including grandparents. Their full names include their father's and their mother's.
  • Most kids speak Spanish, but Mexico also recognizes 68 native languages. 
  • They attend school from September through June. Large schools have two shifts—one group in the morning and one in the afternoon. Students are usually required to wear uniforms. 
  • They may play soccer, baseball, and other sports. Jumping rope and other outdoor games are very popular. They might play a game similar to bingo called Lotería. It is played with picture cards and songs. 
  • Corn tortillas are a staple for kids, along with beans and rice. Dishes that include mole, a sauce often made of dark chocolate, chili peppers, cinnamon, and other spices, may be served on special occasions. 
  • A popular family holiday is Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a celebration to remember and honor a family's ancestors. Family members decorate the graves of their relatives who have passed on. Typical foods served for this holiday include empanadas, tamales, pan de muertos (a sweet bread in which a ring with a tiny plastic skeleton is hidden), and calaveras de azucar (sugar candy skulls). 

That's Berry Funny

What do you call a sheep covered in chocolate? 

A Candy Baa!

Lettuce Joke Around

"Knock, knock!" 

"Who’s there?" 

"Imogen."

"Imogen who?" 

"I can’t imogen life without chocolate!"

Lettuce Joke Around

What do you call stolen cocoa? 

Hot chocolate!

The Yolk's On You

I named my dog Cinnamon!

He's a lot of bark!

That's Berry Funny

The hot sauce asked the two chili peppers what they were doing.

They answered, "We're just chillin'!"

The Yolk's On You

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

Cocoa-Nuts!

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