A holiday mug of Love


Denyse Lopez-Hernandez, Staff Writer

In San Diego, champurrado makes its way into the hearts and souls of people young and old. One might see street vendors, selling the warm, pudding-like beverage out of orange Igloo containers and into steaming styrofoam cups. Mexican restaurants around the city also offer it into mugs often served with another holiday tradition, tamales. A serving of champurrado is love in a cup, on a cold day, sitting around in your pajamas and watching t.v.

Champurrado is made of masa (nixtamalized corn), chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, and other spices. There are champurrado makers that will also add the rich spice of cloves, the zesty aroma of orange peel, or the licorice taste of star anise. To sweeten it, Mexican piloncillo, a raw form of pure cane sugar, is also an alternative to regular sugar. Some versions can be made using milk, evaporated milk, water, or a mix of all.

This chocolate-based atole is thin and porridge-like, popular during the cold weather months and seasons. It’s an excellent way to take the chill off and feel cozy at home or comforted on your way to work. Beyond being a popular traditional drink, champurrado is an experience.

“A traditional Mexican chocolate drink.”
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 pod star anise (optional)
  • 4 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablets Mexican chocolate (such as Chocolate Ibarra)
  • 3/4 cup pinole (coarse ground maize flour)
  • 1 pinch crushed piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar cone), or more to taste


  1. Bring water, cinnamon stick, clove, and star anise to a boil in a saucepan; remove from heat and allow spices to steep until water is fragrant, about 10 minutes. Strain.
  2. Heat milk, chocolate, and pinole in another saucepan over medium heat, whisking until chocolate is dissolved and liquid is thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add piloncillo; let rest until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes more. Pour cinnamon water into chocolate mixture and stir to combine.