Atole is a thick cornbased drink popular during the winter season, especially around Día de Muertos and Las Posadas. It is regarded as a comfort food in Mexico and served for breakfast and as a warming snack throughout the day. During the chilly winter season, many street vendors offer atole and churros.
Depending on your preferences, atole can be served from fairly thin to so thick that it is almost a porridge. It is possible to make atole from various corn products, including masa de maize and masa harina. Atole comes in several different flavor versions, including the traditional champurrado which is flavored with cacao.
Atole is usually sweetened with piloncillo, a flavorful sugary product derived from the boiling and evaporation of sugarcane juice. In many other Latin American countries, this product is sold as panela, but in Mexico it is called piloncillo – probably to avoid confusion with the Mexican cheese queso panela.
Atole recipe (yields 5 cups)
This is a modernized recipe where we use a blender to make atole. If you want to be more traditional, use a molinillo instead. A molinillo is a Mexican wood whisk that you hold between your palms and rotate by rubbing your palms together.
To sweeten the atole, we add a type of Mexican brown sugar known as piloncillo, but you can use other types of brown sugar if you find it difficult to obtain piloncillo where you live. A combo of brown sugar + molasses will be more similar to piloncillo than using just brown sugar.
- ½ cup of masa harina
- ¼ cup of hot water
- 5 cups of water
- 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons of chopped piloncillo
- In a bowl, combine the masa harina with hot water until you have a dough.
- Place the dough in the blender and add 5 cups of water. Blend until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a saucepan.
- Add the vanilla bean into the saucepan.
- Add the cinnamon sick to the saucepan.
- Stir the mixture over medium-high heat until it begins to thicken.
- Add the piloncillo to the mixture, and then stir vigorously to make sure that all sugar is properly dissolved.
- Remove from the heat.
- Pour into mugs and serve right away.
Most people remove the cinnamon stick from the atole before serving it.