Warm the mortar or metate
Preheat your oven to 175 degrees. Place your molcajete y tejolote (mortar and pestle) or your metate and mano in the oven and allow it to warm while you roast the cocoa beans.
Roast and prepare the beans
Use your comal or a heavy (cast iron is best) skillet large enough to hold all the beans in one single layer. Use two skillets if necessary. Place the pan(s) over medium-low heat and roast the beans slowly for 40 minutes, stirring constantly with the escobeta or a wooden spoon. This long roasting time brings out the cocoa butter and produces a rich flavor. When the beans are properly roasted the medium-brown skins will become brittle and turn a lighter brown with darkened spots. Remove the toasted beans to a large heatproof bowl; when they are just cool enough to handle, peel off the skins by rubbing between the palms of your hands. They are easier to peel when they are still warm. (The beans can be kept warm in the preheated 175 degree oven if needed).
Grind the beans
Heat the blade and the workbowl of a food processor by rinsing it in very hot water for a few minutes. Dry very thoroughly before assembling the machine. Place the beans in the workbowl and process for 2 minutes, until the beans are finely ground. You should see the powder beginning to darken and look oily, a sign that the cacao butter is starting to separate; if not, continue to process for another 20 to 30 seconds. With the motor running, add the sugar and canela through the feed tube, a little at a time and process until everything is evenly combined.
If you have no mortar and pestle, the mixture will probably remain too crumbly to hold together. This is perfectly acceptable. Let cool complete and store as room temperature in a tightly covered container.
Blend the chocolate and prepare the chocolate disks
If you are working with the mortar or metate, remove it from the oven using padded oven mitts while working the chocolate. Let cool enough to handle safely. Working in batches that will fit comfortably in your mortar or on your metate, grind the mixture by hand until it glistens and begins to come together. this usually takes at least 15 to 20 minutes; rewarm the mortar or metate as necessary. As the mixture becomes satiny and compact, press it firmly between your hands to form round cakes about 2 inches across and 1/4 inches thick. Set them aside on the counter as they are done and let sit 2 to 3 hours or until thoroughly dry. Wrap the tablets individually in aluminum foil and store at room temperature. the mixture will keep up to 6 months at room temperature.
Uses and More Information
Basic Hot Chocolate
Mix about 1/2 cup (3 ounces) of the homemade chocolate mixture with 3 cups warm milk. Froth with a molinillo and serve in mugs.
Other Hot Drinks - The most traditional use for chocolate was for hot beverages such as Atole, Champurrado and Mexican Hot Chocolate. Learn more about Mexican Hot Beverages. Also see the recipe links on this page.
Atole is frequently served with tamales. Champurrado is also served as a dessert with Churros or a sweet bread call Pan Dulce. These drinks are whipped up using a wooden whisk called a molinillo (moh-lin-nyee-oh) (or, a blender). The whisk is held between the palms of your hands. Then using a back and forth motion the whisk moves back and forth in the mixture until it is aerated and frothy.