Oaxacan Hot Chocolate & Mezcal Balls

Photo by Susan Whitney.

Oaxacan Hot Chocolate

1.75 oz Pelotón de la Muerte Mezcal
8 oz milk
1/2 disc Taza Dark Chocolate Mexicano Guajillo Chili (grated)
1/2 disc Taza Dark Chocolate Mexicano Cinnamon (grated)

Heat milk to just below boiling, remove from the heat, then stir grated chocolate into the pan until melted. Add mezcal, then beat with an immersion blender or whisk until frothy.

Garnish with a toasted marshmallow.

Mezcal Balls (lightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s Rum Ball Recipe)

1.5 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Droste.)
1 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/2 cup Peloton de la Muerte Mezcal
2 tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup or light corn syrup
2 1/2 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
1 cup finely chopped, toasted almonds

Into a large bowl, sift together 1 cup of the confectioner’s sugar, the cocoa powder and spices. Stir in the mezcal and Lyle’s Golden Syrup. Stir in the vanilla wafers and almonds, and mix well. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes until it firms up slightly.

Place the remaining 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar in a shallow bowl or dish. Use a tablespoon to scoop out portions of the chocolate mixture and press into 1-inch balls. Using your hands, roll the balls in the confectioner’s sugar, coating evenly.

Place on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, placing waxed paper between the layers to prevent sticking.

Now that we’re living in a post-truth society (so much easier!), it is with some trepidation that I reveal to you, my dear readers, that I do not believe that Santa is a jolly man who flies from house to house delivering presents only to those who merit such generosity. Truth is, I am Santa, and so is my husband, and, if you have kids, so are you. WE ARE ALL SANTA.

And, as the Collective Santa, we demand better treats to get us through the present wrapping and dollhouse and bicycle construction that will consume our evening, and Santa ain’t driving, so make it a double. In that vein, I have composed a suitable substitute to cookies and milk: Oaxacan Hot Chocolate and Mezcal Balls.

Make your Mezcal Balls on the night before Christmas Eve as directed in the recipe above. I’ve found that 2 1/2 cups of vanilla wafers is roughly equivalent to an 11-ounce box of Nilla Wafers, so no need to waste time measuring. Just pour the cookies into your food processor and pulse until finely crushed.These treats would be great for a Christmas party since they look impressive but require little effort to make.

Photo by Susan Whitney.

On Christmas Eve, use a cheese grater to grate 1/2 disc of Taza Dark Chocolate Mexicano’s guajillo chili and 1/2 disc of their cinnamon flavored drinking chocolate and set aside until you’re ready to make Santa’s cocktail. This is more vigorous work than you might expect. If you’re not into spicy drinks, skip or cut back on the guajillo, which packs a punch, and substitute with more cinnamon.

Photo by Susan Whitney.

When it’s time to prepare Santa’s treats, fill your mugs with hot water to pre-heat them and set aside. Next, warm a cup of milk in a small saucepan until just below boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the grated chocolate until it melts. Next, pour in the mezcal and use an immersion blender to whip your hot chocolate into a frothy delight. If you do not have a hand mixer, a whisk will do the job, but it will require about two minutes of vigorous whisking.

Photo by Susan Whitney.

When you’re finished whisking, skewer a marshmallows on a fire-proof cocktail pick or a 5-inch long piece of bamboo skewer that’s been soaked in water, then quickly toast it over a lighter or an oven burner until it’s golden brown and maybe even a bit burnt in spots. Finally, dump the water from your pre-warmed mugs, pour in your hot chocolate, and rest your skewered marshmallow across the top of the mug.

Serve Santa a Oaxacan Hot Chocolate with three Mezcal Balls, and you will rocket to the top of the “Nice” list faster than Dasher and Blitzen.

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