If you've never tried Mexican atole, then you're missing out! Also known as 'the drink of the Gods', it's perfect for those cold evenings when you fancy a gluten-free, caffeine-free alternative to hot chocolate. It's a classic in Mexico- in fact, it's often drunk at desayuno or almuerzo (breakfast / brunch) or after cena (dinner). Traditionally, Elders drank atole because it gave them energy, and mothers drink it when nursing as it improves their breast milk supply.
I started trying out new recipes for atole while writing The Musician's Promise series, and I completely fell in love with it. If you've read the books, you'll notice that Esperanza's best friend Catalina has two go-to drinks recipes she often makes for the other characters: hibiscus tea (also known as “Agua de Jamaica”) for a refreshing cold drink, or atole as a comfort drink when the other characters need a hug-in-a-mug. Atole certainly does a great job of that. Thick, sweet and comforting, once you've tried it I promise it will become a favorite warm treat! You can even give it a fruity twist if you like, by adding strawberries, raspberries, pineapple or any other fruit of your choice.
Atole is made with a special corn flour called masa harina (NOT to be confused with cornmeal). It's gluten-free, and can usually be found at large supermarkets or on Amazon. Masa harina is also an essential ingredient in corn tortillas, tamales, sopes, gorditas, pupusas, and empanadas. You can click here to find more great Mexican recipes- I use this site all the time and have discovered some wonderful treats!
Finally, a tip- I highly recommend using vanilla bean paste rather than vanilla extract, if you happen to have it around in your kitchen. It gives a far better flavor in my humble opinion!
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Did you enjoy your Mexican atole? Let me know in the comments below!