It’s been a few years since we took a trip to Mexico…. despite my husband having quite a bit of family there, traveling anywhere with 7 people isn’t too cost effective these days.
Thankfully places like San Luis and Nogales are not too far, and are totally doable if you have passports for everyone.. and in some cases you can find atole in your Mexican supermarket. It’s often served at breakfast and is often served with tamales.
Atole is a thick drink, similar to drinking the Mexican hot chocolate we know as champurrado. Much like many things in Mexico like mole, or enchilada sauce, or even tamales, there are a ton of variations. Some people add in fruit, while some use cinnamon sticks.
Related post: How to make Champurrado
Pick up some vanilla beans and slice lengthwise to split the pods – then scrape out the clumps of seeds and add to the drink. Don’t miss the opportunity to save the shell of the vanilla bean and toss it in with your sugar to give it some flavor.
You might have a hard time putting the vanilla bean down – sniff .. sniff… take a minute to pull it up to your nose and inhale deeply. It’s probably the best form of stress relief out there ;)
If you can’t find vanilla pods, you can use true Mexican vanilla extract – Mexican vanilla is probably some of the best in the world and it is far from being cheap. Do not make the mistake of using the cheap vanilla extract sold here in the states, and if you are in Mexico and find a lesser priced bargain on vanilla extract.. be careful. The cheaper imitation version is not too safe to consume and is actually not something you should be able to bring across the border.
Many Mexican markets sell the atole packets that are thickened with cornstarch and take just a few minutes to make – but if you make it from scratch with corn flour, you will never ever want to go back to the pre-made packets. It’s kind of like buying green chiles in a can – just don’t do it.
If you can’t find a vanilla bean, you can opt for a high quality vanilla extract (we like Nielsen Massey) or, vanilla paste.
We used raw milk (unpasteurized) to whip up our atole – it is full of incredible health benefits and incredibly rich and creamy, and pulled out piloncillo to sweeten it up. You can buy Piloncillo at your local Mexican supermarket, sometimes you can find it at your regular supermarket too depending on your area.