Mexican Hot Chocolate


As a child growing up in the Mission District of the 1980s my father used to take my sister and I to breakfast at this little Mexican restaurant called Aunt Mary’s (or as my sister called it Saint Mary’s). Aunt Mary’s was on 16th street just off of Valencia, it sat between an auto repair shop and Cafe Picaro, it was non descriptor other then its red vinyl booths and the smell of beans that still make me feel like being at home. We would always order the same thing – my sister would get pancakes with Viggy (the word I taught her was the name of the pig that made her bacon) and I would get huevos rancheros; and my dad would treat us to a mug of mexican hot chocolate each.

The Mexican hot chocolate would arrive first steaming hot and heavily scented with cinnamon, vanilla, and chocolate. It was rich and thick and dark. I would savor my cup not sipping it but rather taking it spoonful by spoonful daintily blowing on it and then slurping it like a soup. Each taste of deep chocolate hinted with spice not overly sweet, complex and exhilarating. I would make my cup of hot chocolate last until my breakfast arrived a golden yellow yoke like a sun swimming in a pool of red sauce; I would dip tortillas into the runny yellow, red, now orange mess and sip the hot chocolate now a cooler room temperature. And as I finished breakfast I would wipe up the last of the colors and flavors off my plate with a tortilla and always leave at least a sip or two of hot chocolate to finish the experience. I loved our mornings at Aunt Mary’s – the comfort of people who cared, the music of wandering mariachi, and the flavors that have come to be some of my favorite memories.

Growing up in the Mission I was surrounded by the flavors, colors, culture, sound, and people of Mexico. It is what has always made me feel at home. Yet I have never traveled to Mexico myself, that is until next week. My sister and I are spending our holidays together in Mexico this year and I couldn’t be more excited to walk the streets, meet the people, see the art and architecture, and TASTE THE FOOD! In getting ready for our tip I made Mexican hot chocolate in my own home yesterday, it wasn’t difficult and the smell and taste reminded me of what I loved at Aunt Mary’s – rich, thick, spicy, sweet, chocolate at its heaven most (ok I may have gotten a little carried away). Sitting in the present moment sipping my hot chocolate and thinking back to my childhood while looking forward to my trip to Mexico, reaching back to my past while stretching forward to my future all while savoring every single sumptuous sip.

Wishing everyone happy memories, happy travels, and happy sipping. With great thanks to Annie for helping with my memory and helping to form so many of them.


Mexican Hot Chocolate – adapted from Ina Garten

Serves 2


2 cups milk 

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of cayenne pepper (unless for los niños and then you might want to skip this)

Fresh whipped cream for topping (optional)

Place the milk and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate, vanilla, and spices. 

Allow to steep for a few minutes. Then reheat the hot chocolate over low heat until it simmers.

Strain the chocolate into mugs. Top with whipped cream if you so desire. Sit, sip, and soak in the memories.


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12 2015

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  1. Annie #

    Aunt Mary’s pancake sandwich yum…you guys have a great time in Mexico.✈️☕️

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