February 10, 2013

Winter Warmers:

Mexican Chocolate and Coffee Heat up Beverage Menus

Are your customers checking out of your restaurant after finishing dinner to relax over hot drinks and dessert at the coffee shop down the street? Enhancing your beverage menu with hot chocolate and coffee drinks could quell their desire to depart, and has the potential to perk up after-dinner drink and dessert sales in the process.

Chocolate, after all, is a natural for Mexican restaurants. The ancient Aztecs considered it a divine gift from the god Quetzalcoátl, who had fetched the cacao beans from the Garden of Life. And coffee’s popularity continues to grow, data from the National Coffee Association shows. According to the NCA’s National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) 2012, 2012 saw a seven percent increase over 2011 in coffee consumption. And the group’s Ethnicity and Coffee survey reveals that 74 percent of Hispanic-Americans drink coffee daily, twelve percentage points ahead of other Americans, with their daily espresso consumption at 32 percent versus 11 percent.

Below, el Restaurante Mexicano rounds up some of the best examples of hot chocolate and coffee drinks found on Mexican restaurant menus:

*Antojeria La Popular, New York City. Featured on the drink menu that this tapas bar promotes is “Mexican Hot Choco" in 10 different flavors: cinnamon, orange, ginger, vanilla, guajillo chile, pasilla chile, cacao, almond, salt and pepper, and coffee. Diners can order it hot or iced, with soy, skim or whole milk.

*La Oaxaquena, San Francisco. Customers can customize their Mexican Hot Chocolate with soymilk (an extra 50 cents), guajillo chili powder (35 cents); and ginger (25 cents). It’s so good San Francisco Weekly (SF Weekly) named it “Best Hot Chocolate” in 2011. “La Oaxaqueña's hot chocolate is made from blocks of chocolate the owner, Albino Carreno, hauls back from Oaxaca City or Ocotlán on his regular sourcing trips,” the review said. The cacao de Oaxaca is pulverized in the kitchen, mixed with ground almonds and cinnamon, dissolved in milk to order, then heated and frothed with the steam wand of the espresso machine.” Other favorites: masa-based Atole Blanco flavored with cinnamon, cane sugar and vanilla, and champurrado thickened with rice flour instead of cornstarch that stays hot in an insulated five-gallon coffee server from which customers help themselves, according to a SF Weekly blog.

*Mama Iguana’s, Northampton and Springfield, Mass. The traditional but “spirited” Mexican Hot Chocolate here is made with special Mexican Abuelita chocolate and Kahlua for a rich taste.

*Tenoch Mexican Coffee House, Denver. The Mayan Spiced Cocoa Cafe-Xocolatl made with steamed milk is a signature hot drink at this coffee house that also serves up Cafe de Olla, a traditional coffee brewed in a clay pot with cinnamon sticks, brown sugar molasses and orange pilled for customers. Other offerings include the Cafe Lechero, espresso with steamed milk and a small cap of rich foam.

*Xoco, Chicago. Rick and Deann Bayless’ quick-service café features hot chocolate made from Mexican cacao beans ground in the front window. Offerings include Authentic: Fresh-ground Chocolate + Water; Aztec: fresh-ground chocolate + water + chile + allspice; Classic: chocolate shot + 2% milk; Almendrado: chocolate shot + almond milk; the rich Mexico City Thick Champurrado; plus three chocolate coffees—Chocolate Espresso, Chocolate Cappuccino and Chocolate Cafe con Leche.

SIDEBAR:

Did You Know…

That chocolate is a Spanish rendering of the Atzec word xocolātl, meaning sour (xococ) drink (ātl)? An alternative theory is that the word was Mayan. Here it would come from hot (chokol) drink (ātl).

—Source: http://endlesscancun.blogspot.com/2011/04/chocolate-quetzalcoatls-gift-to-mexico.html

Source Guide

*Nestlé Professional Vitality. Products include Nestlé Abuelita Authentic Mexican Hot Chocolate in a convenient, easy-to-dispense format, and the Nescafé® Table Top Barista™ that provides the ultimate in specialty dispensed coffee technology that will improve your customer’s experience by letting them choose from a variety of “barista beverage options” with coffeehouse style and quality, all at the push of a button.

Phone 800-288-8682; www.nestleprofessional.com

¡Buena Idea!—a web only recipe!

Editor Kathleen Furore found this recipe for Spicy Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream. Why not try dressing up your hot chocolate drinks with a dollop of this topping?

Spicy Dulce de Leche Whipped Cream

1 c. heavy whipping cream

1/3 c. brown sugar

¼  t. cinnamon

¼  t. cayenne

¼  t. red pepper flakes

2 T. semisweet chocolate chips, crushed

In a large bowl, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in the brown sugar until cream becomes light and fluffy (if you don’t have access to fresh, very soft brown sugar, just use regular white sugar to keep the cream from becoming grainy). Mix in the cinnamon and cayenne. Pipe on top of hot cocoa. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and crushed chocolate to garnish.

—Source: Mexican Hot Chocolate with Dulce de Leche Spiced Cream, posted by Brooke McLay at www.babble.com

Here's another recipe you'll enjoy, for Smokin Hot Chocolate, featuring Scorpion Mezcal.

February 10, 2013

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