It's beginning to feel a lot like Winter here in Mexico! Even though the cold weather and I don't really get along, I love all of the hearty, comforting foods we crave to keep us warm, like soups and atoles.
Atoles are a traditional Mexican hot beverage made with milk and/or water and thickened slightly with cornstarch or masa harina.
In most tienditas and markets, you can buy little packets of flavored cornstarch to make atole. But atoles taste even better when made from scratch with plain, unflavored cornstarch. And they're just as easy to make. And that's exactly what Girlichef and I decided to make for She Made / Ella Hace this month.
Atoles can be made in a variety of flavors like strawberry, guava, coconut, pineapple, cookie, cajeta (caramel) and even pumpkin pie. My favorite is Atole de Nuez (Pecan Atole). A simple, creamy and frothy atole blanco (white atole), flavored with tiny pieces of toasted pecans.
Drinking a cup of Atole is like curling up on the couch with your favorite blanket. It instantly warms you up inside and leaves you feeling happy and relaxed, oblivious to the cold, dreary weather outside. The ultimate comfort beverage.
Atole is also the perfect drink to serve alongside your Rosca de Reyes.
Atole de Nuez
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 5 cups milk
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch (aka cornflour)
- 1/2 teaspoon almond or pecan extract (optional)
Toast the pecans in a small skillet over medium heat or 2 to 3 minutes, being extra careful not to burn them.
Puree the pecans in a blender with 4 cups of milk.
Heat the pecan milk in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until very warm. (If you don't stir the atole constantly, the pecans with settle at the bottom of the saucepan and burn, which will result in a horrible tasting atole.) Reduce heat to low and stir in the sugar. Combine the cornstarch and the remaining cup of milk and pour into the hot milk. Continue to simmer, still stirring constantly, over low heat until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat. If you want a stronger, nuttier flavor, stir in the almond or pecan extract.
Ladle into mugs and garnish with a pecan half. Enjoy!!!
Be sure to check out Girlichef's Vanilla-Almond Atole!