Many thanks to Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner for graciously hosting her “Winter Wonderland on a Tray Blog Tour”, featuring creations from a group of bloggers, with this jolly common theme.
Welcome to my contribution to the tour, following Nicolle @ Our Tiny Nest.
As December is almost here, so is the holiday season for many cultures around the world; here in Canada, many families decorate outside their homes with lights, and varied ornaments. After all the hard work in the cold, there is nothing more satisfying that a mug of hot chocolate, and a sweet treat. The inspiration for my tray came from this vignette of winter fun, to which I have given a twist by choosing traditional Mexican hot chocolate and sweet bread.
I started with a ceramic plate and mugs, mostly plain, but with a lovely winter forest design:
Cacao beans and chocolate are one of the many gifts from Mexico to the world; to read all about the origins and lofty history, please check out my post: Like Water for Chocolate – It’s All about the Froth, where I explain in detail that the foam on their cup of cocoa was in fact considered by indigenous Mexican cultures as a very important part of their cocoa drink, with spiritual value and curative properties on its own; the plant’s scientific name, Theobroma cacao, from the Greek theos – god and broma – food, originated from the Maya people’s belief that it was a gift from the gods. Throughout history, both in Mexico and Europe, the hot beverage was often prescribed to keep ailments at bay, and today, chocolate is widely recognized for its healthy effects.
Since pre-Hispanic times, people in Southern Mexico have known to clear the brush around cacao trees, and prune them, for healthier crops and higher yields; “ramas mamonas y ladronas” (“suckers and water sprouts”, which are strong low or inner branches) are cut so they do not “steal” energy away from the main trunk and pod development. To this day, farmers still clean and use these ladronas trimmings as rudimentary tools to stir cocoa beans while roasting, and to beat hot chocolate to make it foamy; this might have been the origin of the kitchen tool specifically designed to froth hot chocolate and other hot beverages, called molinillo (small mill). Molinillos are also made of wood, carved on a lathe (rotating machine) to produce flaps and rings. It is remarkable how each molinillo is handcrafted from a single piece of wood, even its lose rings, as it may be appreciated in the photo below:
To set up my wintery afternoon snack, I used the plate as a tray, and added a ribbon with a snowflake motif to the molinillo:
Preparing Mexican hot chocolate starts with Mexican chocolate tablets, for example, as pictured below, left. The tablets are first dissolved in very hot, gurgling water (the expression “Like water for chocolate” actually refers to someone feeling hot with overwhelming anger); after adding more hot water or milk, the frothing tool is twirled vigorously in the hot liquid, to produce a delightful foamy top (photo below, right):
For full story and recipe, visit my post: The Molinillo, and Other Elements for a Frothy Cup of Hot Chocolate.
After promptly filling my mugs with the steamy beverage, I finished my tray with some conchas, probably the best-known Mexican sweet breads, just perfect for my theme, especially the one with a wintery white topping, looking like a puffed-out jib:
In Mexico, the hot chocolate and sweet bread combo continues to be a traditional choice to serve for breakfast or as a light supper, and here in Canada, it sure feels comforting, to kick-off the holiday season after some outdoors decorating, on a cold wintery afternoon.
Thank you so much for dropping by! Please continue the tour with Carol @ Bluesky at Home.
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Molinillo and other kitchen tools to make a frothy cup of Mexican hot chocolate:
The most traditional Mexican hot chocolate would start with pure cacao paste and sugar; in case of having unsweetened cocoa paste (photo below, left) add sugar, to taste. There are a few companies that make tablets with unrefined cocoa paste, sugar and natural flavourings only, such as Mayordomo™ in Mexico, or Taza™ in the USA (photo below, centre); Abuelita™ tablets are similar to Ibarra™, very popular and affordable (photo below, right):
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