During the holidays, atole is very popular in Mexico. If you aren’t familiar with atole, it is a traditional masa based warm drink that is served during the colder months.
It is popular to serve for Dia de los Muertos but also throughout the holiday season. In Mexico, you’ll find vendors selling all kinds of atoles during the holidays and colder months of the year.
Atoles can be made with a variety of fruits and flavors. Today’s recipe is features pure Mexican vanilla extract: atole de vanilla. If you have real vanilla beans, you can definitely use those instead of the vanilla extract. I have been wanting to use the Mexican vanilla extract that I brought back with from my last trip to Mexico in a recipe that really highlighted the vanilla flavor. Vanilla extract from Mexico has a unique flavor profile.
Did you know that vanilla actually originates in Mexico, dating back to pre-historic times? One day I hope that I am lucky enough to travel to Veracruz to see how the vanilla plants are grown and harvested.
I have to tell you that finding 100% pure vanilla extract in Mexico was very difficult for me. On each trip I am always on the lookout for it, but it is so hard to find. I asked the market vendors, our tour guides and drivers usually with no luck. They usually just point out the artificial vanilla because that is what most places sell. I find this so crazy! Don’t worry though, it is available. In Mexico City I found it at The Green Corner in Condesa and at the San Juan Market downtown. If you aren’t visiting Mexico anytime soon, you can purchase it online.
Usually when I make atole, like my Strawberry Atole, the drink is thick enough where you need a spoon. For this atole de vanilla I wanted the consistency to be drinkable, so I only added 1/4 cup of masa harina. This also gives the atole just the right amount of corn flavor and doesn’t over power the vanilla.
You can use your favorite non-dairy milk. The drink is sweetened with piloncillo: an unrefined sugar that has this wonderful earthiness and isn’t too sweet like granulated sugar.
The drink will thicken up a little bit if you aren’t serving the drink right away. Reheat the drink and simply add some more milk or water to thin it out.
I like to garnish the drink with a little cinnamon and with a cinnamon stick. I like to serve this atole with pan dulce or tamales for a sweet breakfast treat!
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment letting us know and tag us on Instagram #thymeandlove. We’d love to see what you make!
Have a great Thanksgiving Holiday!