A comforting drink is always welcomed in my home at any time of the year. Atoles are the perfect late-afternoon/early evening treat because they are thick, warm and hearty. I like to call them “pourable hugs” because they are decadent and make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Atoles are made with milk and a base of corn flour as a thickener. Spices, nuts, pieces of fruit or purees are then added to customize the drink to one’s own liking. Personal flavor favorites like pecan, pineapple, strawberry and vanilla can be easily prepared just by adding a few ingredients to the base. Some people prefer their atoles thickened with corn starch because of its smooth consistency, but there is something about corn flour that gives it a more rustic and grainy feel that I love and am familiar with.
I get nostalgic with atole because this Mexican traditional drink has played a big role in my upbringing. Atole is commonly served year-round but has now become very popular in the United States around the holidays, Posadas, 3-Kings Day, Day of the Dead and Mexican Independence Day.
Growing up, atole was commonly served to me as an accompaniment to pan dulce or cookies as late snack, also known as la merienda. Five o’clock was merienda time at my house and the aroma of sweet creamy atole permeated my home. An aroma I will never forget.
The sweet, warm smell was due to cinnamon sticks and vanilla pods slowly simmering in the milk. A key element in the atole preparation before adding any other ingredient. Cinnamon sticks can always be replaced with ground cinnamon and vanilla bean pods can also be replaced with vanilla extract. For this particular recipe, I used McCormick’s cinnamon sticks and vanilla pods during the drink’s preparation. A tad of McCormick ground cinnamon is perfect for garnish. If masa harina is not available in your area, dissolve 5 tablespoons of corn starch in ½ cup of water and pour that mixture into the simmering milk. Simple as that.
I would love to know what your favorite atole flavor is. I have a difficult time choosing because they are all equally delicious.
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This is a sponsored post by McCormick. All opinions are 100% my own.
- ½ cup masa harina
- 6 1/2 cups water, divided
- 3 (12 ounce) cans evaporated milk
- 2 McCormick Gourmet All Natural Cinnamon Sticks
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 McCormick Gourmet Madagascar Vanilla Bean, sliced in half
- McCormick Gourmet All Natural Ground Saigon Cinnamon
- In a 5-quart stock pot over medium heat, add masa and whisk in ½ cup water in a slow stream to avoid lumps; bring to a simmer. Add the remaining water, milk and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a boil, add brown sugar. Reduce heat to medium low and stir constantly until mixture begins to thicken.
- Add vanilla bean and let simmer for 3 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, remove vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks before serving. Garnish with ground cinnamon.