The Beat Goes On

Steaming, cinnamony, sweet as your darling’s kiss, MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE might be the perfect twist on the traditional box of candy this Valentine’s. For each serving, heat a cup of water, milk, cream, or any combination thereof along with about a third of a tablet of Mexican chocolate (the sugar and cinnamon are already incorporated; that’s why it’s grainy). Tradition calls for using an earthenware pot, but a saucepan works too. After the chocolate is dissolved, barely simmer for five minutes, then take a wooden molinillo, or chocolate beater, by the handle and twirl it like crazy between the palms of your hands until the mixture is frothy. (If you’re uncoordinated or lazy—or don’t have a molinillo—an egg beater or a mixer will do.) And one more thing: Under no circumstances are you to top Mexican chocolate with tiny marshmallows.

Molinillos cost between $4 and $20, depending on how elaborately carved they are. You can find them at Fiesta Mart and at Mexican import shops including El Interior, 1009 West Lynn, Austin (512-474-8680); La Mariposa, 2813 N. Henderson, Dallas (214-826-0069); Casa Ramirez Folk Art, 241 W. Nineteenth, Houston (713-880-2420); and Little Mexico Imports, 514 W. Commerce, San Antonio (210-226-7765). They are also available at,,, and Look for Mexican chocolate (Ibarra is a good brand) at grocery stores like Central Market, Fiesta, and H-E-B. PATRICIA SHARPE