Making Atole

Vacation is no excuse not to put up at least the odd post, right? We made a little atole at Chez Pastry before we left, and a delightful refreshment it is too, especially on a cold winter day. It’s a simple Mexican concoction of sweetened, spiced milk thickened with corn starch. As with all things that call for only a few ingredients, the higher quality the ingredients, the better the end product.

Start by pouring five and a half cups of whole milk into a large sauce pan. Set it on medium heat.

Combine another half cup of milk with a third cup of corn starch. Whisk it together into a smooth mixture.

Scrape the seeds of one vanilla bean into the warming milk.

Now add about a third cup of sugar to the mixture. Ideally it’ll be Mexican pilconcillo, but light brown sugar works very well too. Whatever will give your atole the hint of molasses flavor it needs.

Drop in a cinnamon stick and stir the mixture until the sugar melts. Then add the corn starch mixture. Bring the atole to a simmer over medium heat. Be careful with the heat since this mixture, being both sweet and thick, can scorch easily. Once it boils, it’s as thick as it’s going to get.

Take it off the heat. Drink it warm!

10 thoughts on “Making Atole”

    1. I’m not sayin’ that bourbon would go great with this. But I may be thinkin’ it.

      – Joe

  1. It doesn’t curdle with the brown sugar? Whenever I heat brown sugar with hot milk it does. Even stabilised with starch.

    1. Yours must be quite acidic indeed. I don’t have that problem. Interesting…

      – Joe

  2. Oh my goodness! In Colombia they call this coladita de maizena (little lovely soup/drink of cornstarch). I’ve never seen a recipe for it, but I grew up with it. Instead of chicken soup, my mom would make coladita when I was feeling ill. Or heartbroken. It was a wonderful remedy.

  3. That looks delicious! Enjoy your holiday, Joe! 🙂

    I’m enjoying your photos… will you let us in on the secret of how you shoot the actions shots (pouring milk, sprinkling spices) while performing the action at the same time? Do you have an assistant, or are you just very, very good at focusing and shooting with your left hand? 🙂

    Cheers, Fleur

    1. Hey Fleur!

      I’m a one-man band, though I often wish I had help, especially when crimping Chinese steamed buns. There’s really no secret other than plenty of natural light for fast shutter speeds…and a lots of practice! 😉

      – Joe

  4. Funny you posted something Mexican since I’ve actually been wondering if maybe you could tackle cemitas and bolillos/teleras in the future.
    Also, have you had atole de arroz? That’s the one I’m used to.

  5. Hi Joe!
    This sounds and looks DELISH! I have a question about measuring the pilconcillo. After you grate it, do you pack it in the measuring device like brown sugar or just measure it loosely like regular sugar? Thanks and I hope your vacation is “All that AND a bag of chips (chocolate chips!)”.


  6. I’ve never had atole with cornstarch–I have always made it with masa harina (and some chopped Mexican chocolate). Thanks for this!

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