For the life of me, I could not find a buttercream frosting recipe that uses real, homemade Oaxaca chocolate, the kind made here in the village. Oaxaca chocolate is a dietary mainstay. The cacao beans are roasted at home and then taken to the molino (mill) to grind along with cinnamon, cane sugar, vanilla bean, almonds and perhaps chiles. Each family has their own recipe handed down by the abuelas.
During the grinding, it comes out of the mill as a warm, thick paste and is poured into pans where it solidifies, then cut into two-inch or three-inch cubes large enough to make a pot of hot chocolate (with water, of course) — an early morning and late evening staple, perfect for dipping conchas.
I decided to adapt chocolate buttercream frosting recipes I found online. Most of them call for dark semi-sweet chocolate, or cocoa powder, or chocolate chips. None included Oaxaca chocolate. I know from years of being in the kitchen that it is the cacao butter in chocolate that makes it creamy. With Oaxaca drinking chocolate, you taste the sugar granules. So, I decided to combine four cubes (about 8 ounces) of traditional Oaxaca chocolate with about four ounces of Oaxaca-made Mama Pacha artesanal chocolate for eating — the amount I had on hand. (Here’s how to buy Mama Pacha.)
Making a buttercream frosting is easy. It takes about ten minutes once the chocolate is melted. You just need a hand-mixer, a spatula, a spoon, a Pyrex measuring cup and a mixing bowl. The secret is to melt all the chocolate, but cool it to the touch before adding it to the creamed butter. If the chocolate is too hot, the butter will melt and your frosting will be ruined.
How to Melt the Chocolate: put all the chocolate in a 2-4 cup Pyrex measuring cup. Microwave the chocolate in 30-second increments, stirring and cooling for several minutes between each 30-second zap. The chocolate should be combined, soft and paste-like. Put a finger deep into the center to be sure the mixture is not hot.
- 8 ounces of cubed Oaxaca chocolate
- 3-4 ounces of artisanal 70% cacao semi-sweet chocolate
- 2-1/2 cups of powdered sugar (azucar glace´)
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 T. almond milk, plain or vanilla flavored
- 1/4 t. pure vanilla extract
- dash of salt (omit salt if using salted butter)
- Melt chocolate as described above.
- Put butter into medium size mixing bowl. Cream with mixer until smooth and fluffy. Color should be a creamy beige.
- Add cooled chocolate and continue to combine into creamed butter with electric mixer.
- Add 1/2 the amount of powdered sugar and stir into the chocolate butter mix at lowest speed of hand mixer. Add remaining powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl until all is mixed.
- Add vanilla extract and almond milk. Mix in thoroughly.
- Chill for a few minutes.
- Will frost an 8-10″ layer cake or 12-18 cupcakes.
In Oaxaca we have a Mexican supermarket called Chedraui. The best one is in Colonia Reforma. It has a complete selection of imported products, too, including those that are gluten-free. I am experimenting with a gluten-free and milk-free diet, so I did buy a Betty Crocker gluten free chocolate cake mix and substituted almond milk for cow milk. It turned out to be delicious.
My Zapotec friends raved that this was the best frosting they ever had, too! I confess it doesn’t look like much. Not smooth as silk (because of the granulated sugar). But it is delicious.
Happy New Year.