Monday, Jan. 6 marks “El Día de los Reyes Magos” or “Three Kings Day.” For many Latinos, that means one last day of holiday celebrations– and food!
The Christian holiday of Epiphany represents the last of the twelve days of Christmas, when the three wise men arrived at Bethlehem bearing gifts for baby Jesus.
Several rituals are celebrated in Mexico and other Latin American countries including leaving gifts near the shoes of small children and gathering to eat ‘la Rosca de Reyes’, a ring-shaped sweet bread with a baby Jesus figurine hidden inside.
If you are celebrating with a rosca— which can be purchsed at many of the panaderias in Boyle Heights– we have the perfect drink to pair up with the delicious bread: champurrado, a Mexican hot chocolate atole. The recipe comes from Aaron J. Perez, a chef and food stylist born and raised in Boyle Heights. You can see more recipes on his website here.
Follow the recipe and let us know how it tasted– and if you scored the baby Jesus figurine inside your rosca.
3 pounds prepared masa (tips here)
18 cups water
3 to 4 1/2 cups milk
4 discs of Mexican chocolate (Abuelita)
1 large cone of piloncillo
6-7 small cinnamon sticks
5-6 tablespoons granulated cane sugar (if desired to make it sweeter)
Either cheesecloth to strain the dissolved masa
A molinillo or a wooden spoon
Measure out 18 cups of warm water into a large bowl. Submerge the masa and using your hands, dissolve the masa in the water until the water is cloudy and the dough is completely incorporated.
Over another large bowl, preferably deeper rather than wider, lay the cheesecloth.While holding the cloth in place, pour about a third of the dissolved masa water into the cloth. Bring the ends of the cloth together to close it at the top and gently massage the bottom of the cloth to strain the water through. Be careful not to squeeze too hard because the water will squirt. Repeat until you’ve poured all the masa water through the cloth.
Once you’ve massaged the cloth so there’s no more water but still some clumps of masa, squeeze the cloth well to get any remaining water out. Discard the remaining masa from inside the cloth and pour the water into a deep pot. Place the pot over a medium flame and add the piloncillo (you can chop the piloncillo before adding if you like), stirring with the molinillo or wooden spoon until it dissolves. Add the cinnamon once the piloncillo is incorporated. Constantly stir the water; as it heats, it will start to thicken. If you don’t stir enough, depending on the masa you used, it can start to get clumpy”“which you don’t want.
You will know the atole is thick enough to add the chocolate when the liquid leaves a coating on the back of your wooden spoon. Add the chopped chocolate and stir well with your spoon or molinillo. Add the milk, stirring constantly. If desired, add a little raw cane sugar to sweeten.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly; ladle into mugs.
Yields about 18-20 servings.