By Isela Hernandez, Founder & President of HERNÁN
In 2007, my company, HERNÁN, successfully launched a line of Mexican kitchenware at Dean & DeLuca. The wooden “molinillo” or Mexican hot chocolate frother quickly became a bestseller, and the team at Dean & DeLuca asked me to source an artisanal Mexican hot chocolate to complement it. I found KEKUA in Morelia, Michoacan, a pink-stone colonial town northwest of Mexico City.
KEKUA is a 100% natural chocolate that’s handmade from Mexican cacao beans, cinnamon and sugar (there is a sugar-free version and a version that incorporates crushed almonds). The cacao beans are ground into a powder in a manner reminiscent of the traditional process done with a stone-chiseled “metate” or mortar. KEKUA can be used in spicy Mexican dishes like moles, and is most commonly used to make a rich, comforting and not too sweet hot chocolate drink that can also be served over ice.
In Morelia, I met the owner of KEKUA, Gerardo Velazquez Acosta. While working on a thesis about the artisan industries in Mexico, Gerardo learned to make “chocolate de metate” from scratch and mold it by hand into traditional tablet forms from an artisan chocolate maker in his hometown (Patzcuaro). Gerardo quickly developed a passion for the process, a love for the chocolate, and was determined to find a way to share the art of Mexican chocolate making.
He started KEKUA in Patzcuaro, which is a small town known for its hilly surroundings and cobblestone streets and named it KEKUA (which means “cacao” in Purepechua). When he outgrew his production capacity, he moved the operation to nearby Morelia.
We introduced KEKUA in Dean & DeLuca stores last fall and its popularity is only growing. In the summertime, I recommend you enjoy it iced. In Southern Mexico, iced chocolate drinks are often served along side spicy taquitos. KEKUA Iced Mexican Hot Chocolate can be enjoyed with food, or on its own (as a great alternative to iced coffee). It also makes a terrific cocktail – just add your favorite liquor – we love it with Patron Coffee Tequila or Gran Marnier! And as we roll into fall, enjoy it hot and frothy!
Iced Mexican Hot Chocolate:
On your stovetop, warm 1 cup of milk in a pot over low heat. Do not bring to a boil. Drop 2-3 chocolate balls into warm milk. Stir milk and press down on chocolate balls with a molinillo or spoon until fully melted. Let cool. Pour into a water-tight container and store overnight in refrigerator. Shake the next morning, and serve over ice.
If you want to try Kekua Iced Mexican Hot Chocolate, and you live or work nearby Dean & DeLuca SoHo (560 Broadway), come see me tomorrow, September 2nd between 12 & 3pm. I’ll be at Dean & DeLuca sampling.