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Better Hot Cocoa

The hot chocolate drink was a very far-reaching staple in Mesoamerican societies. Having originated in the Maya or perhaps Olmec civilization circa 500 BCE, it was drunk by all ranges of social class as a nerve-calming beverage. As it spread to Aztec societies, cocoa became so popular that the beans embellished themselves as a form currency and ceremonial gift. But for the drink itself, the cocoa powder was often accompanied by cornmeal and a little chili pepper. Sugar had not yet found its way to Mesoamerica, so the drink was traditionally very bitter unless sweetened with honey. In post-Columbian times, Spanish voyagers were inquisitive as to how such a drink could be enjoyed by so many. The reason likely being: Easterners were yet to discover āhuacatl.

Prep: 5 min | Cooking: 5 min | Total: 10 min


  • Cocoa powder (1/4 cup)

  • White granulated sugar (1/2 cup)

  • Graham crackers, blended or pulverized to dust (1/2 cup)

  • Sea salt (1/4 tsp)

  • Cinnamon (1/2 tsp)

  • Water (1/2 cup)

  • Milk (4 cups)

  • Vanilla extract (1/2 tsp)

  • Optional: marshmallows


  1. In a medium saucepan, mix together cocoa powder, sugar, graham crackers, salt, cinnamon and water until fully incorporated. Raise heat to medium until the mixture begins to bubble. Stir in milk and vanilla. Stir constantly for about 3 minutes or until steamy (do not boil). Plop marshmallows on top and dust with additional cocoa powder.

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