Vegan Champurrado

Champurrado is a chocolate corn-based drink that we enjoy during the holidays. My Grandma Eva makes the chocolate-free atole (from the Nahutatl atolli, meaning maize gruel) rather than champurrado, but I decided to make the more crowd-friendly chocolate version. The most important recipe in atole, and champurrado, is the masa harina, or corn flour.


Masa harina is the base of the drink, and it serves to thicken and flavor it with a mildly sweet corn flavor.

Making champurrado is pretty simple, although you can easily mess it up. I adapted from this recipe, although I forgot to buy bittersweet chocolate so I subbed in more cocoa powder. I also used dark brown sugar instead of piloncillo. I did not have a molinillo (a kind of blender to froth the champurrado), but I did my best with a whisk.

I will admit that having just glanced my grandma as she makes atole, I had little to no idea what I was doing. I was beyond relieved when the champurrado turned out really nicely and, even with the lack of bittersweet chocolate, was a definite step up from hot chocolate.

¼ cup (30 g) masa harina (or corn flour [NOT cornstarch])
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons (60 g) packed muscovado sugar (or grated pilconcillo or dark brown sugar)
2 tablespoons (10 g) cocoa powder (I like natural)
⅛ teaspoon cayenne or dried chipotle powder (more to taste)
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups (475 ml) water
2 cups (475 ml) almond milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I like 65-72% cacao mass), roughly chopped
4 (3”) cinnamon sticks

Whisk together all your dry ingredients in a medium saucepan, then add water and almond milk, and cinnamon sticks.

Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue simmering and stirring until the mixture is smooth and thickened to your liking, 10-15 more minutes. Taste, adding more spice if you like. Serve immediately, or remove from the heat and let stand until ready to serve; the champurrado will continue to thicken as it stands and the flavor of the cinnamon will deepen. Thin with almond milk or water if needed.

To top it off, I also (kind of unsuccessfully) made whipped coconut cream. It wasn’t thick and creamy because I may not have let my coconut milk harden in the refrigerator long enough, but it was still a good addition to the champurrado.

Coconut whipped cream ingredients:

  • 2 small cans unsweetened coconut cream, chilled at least 2 hours (recommended up to a day)
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Meanwhile, make the whipped coconut cream. Without tipping or shaking the cans, remove the coconut cream from the refrigerator, open the cans, and scrape the thick cream from the top of the cans. Place in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer with the powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip until soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes on medium-high. Taste, adding more sugar or vanilla if you like.



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