In The Community
For Latinos, hot chocolate is a year-round thing, but it's also definitely a winter thing. And we definitely know how to give the traditional recipe a twist. It's not just the chocolate itself that makes it delicious, but the added ingredients that are characteristic of each country in Latin America. You might already know about the Salvadoran way to make hot chocolate, but there are more hot chocolate recipes to be had.
So now we go down two other chocolatey paths — a Mexican one and a Colombian one. What path will you choose?
Mexicospicy fire breathing GIFGiphy
Have you ever thought about making your hot chocolate spicy? In Mexico, spicy hot chocolate is totally normal. The Spicy Aztec Hot Chocolate is a must-try for any time of the year. To make the recipe as accurate as possible, you’ll need a very dark chocolate of at least 70% (pre-made cocoa powder won't do, sorry). You can find it at most supermarkets. If you want authentic Mexican dark chocolate, head over to the Latin market closest to you; they'll have it for sure.
Next, you'll need to boil a little bit of your preferred milk choice; once it's boiled, you'll drop in the chocolate (they usually sell them in tablets, and they melt beautifully). Once it's melted, you add in vanilla, cinnamon, and the star of this event: spicy chili peppers (usually by way of chili powder). And if you wanna make it a party, some people like to add one or two shots of brandy once it's ready to be served.As the name suggests, the ones that preferred their hot chocolate spicy were the Aztecs; instead of adding sugar to make it sweet, they added chiles to make it bitter to make the chocolatey drink named Xocoatl. This hot chocolate is super easy to make and will make you the favorite of any gathering.
Reply to @whyareyoustaringatme246 #HOTCHOCOLATE WITH CHEESE! IFYKYK. #Chocolatecaliente #chocolateconqueso #🇨🇴 #comidacolombiana #cheesetiktok
Have you ever said the words: mmm, this hot chocolate needs more cheese? Probably not, unless you are from the beautiful land of Colombia, where this is a common occurrence. What makes Colombian hot chocolate unique is that cheese is added to the bottom of the cup. Once the hot chocolate is poured, the cheese will melt and mix with the drink. Trust us, it's crazy good.
The combination makes the hot chocolate thick and creamy. The saltiness combined with the sweetness makes for a luxurious culinary experience (think dipping fries in a milkshake).
For this one, also make sure you can get your hands on authentic dark chocolate, which you will mix in with boiled milk. You then mix in the chocolate till it melts; once your chocolate is ready, drop Queso Colombiano, firm mozzarella cheese, or another salty cheese option into a cup, and proceed to pour in your hot chocolate on top. And that's all! Pretty straightforward.
Be inspired, then make your own.
We got you covered with another Latino fave: Coquito. This amazing drink pairs well with other fave Latino dishes we’ve recommended, or you can just have it all by itself. Either way, this drink is sent from heaven and our recipe will yield the coquito of your dreams.
Coquito originates from Puerto Rico, but it’s widely known across Latin America, as a warm, nostalgic drink to enjoy during the holidays; but don’t let that stop you from drinking it throughout the year. This delicious drink is surprisingly easy to make and for many Puerto Ricans, “tastes like home.” It requires coconut milk, cinnamon, and rum.
Here’s how to recreate the traditional coquito recipe:
Ingredients for the Coquito
Let’s start with the ingredients, you might already have most of this at home. When it comes to traditional recipes like this one, most families have things they add and remove to their liking. So remember, you can be as flexible as you want, you can add eggs to make it even fluffier or raisins for added taste amongst other things!
- Coconut milk (1 can, 13.5 oz): it’s what gives it that creamy texture, so I definitely don’t recommend skipping out on this one!
- Cinnamon Sticks: 3
- Sweetened condensed milk 14 oz: because if it was already creamy, it’s about to get cloud level fluffy.
- Coconut cream 15 oz: Another irreplaceable ingredient. We are creating an experience here so trust me.
- Evaporated milk 4 oz
- Ground nutmeg ½ teaspoon
- Ground Cinnamon ½ teaspoon
- Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon
- Dark Spiced Rum 1-½ cups: this one is in fact skippable, and completely up to you!
How to prepare the Coquito
Like we said before, Coquito is super easy! Most recipes recommend that you prepare it a few days in advance from the date you’ll serve it, so the ingredients can sit in the fridge and enrich the drink with their flavor. It can also be prepared on the same day though, just make sure you have around 4 hours to let it sit in the fridge.
Grab all of the ingredients, except the rum, and mix them in a blender until you get a fluffy texture, then add the rum and mix again. Pour it into a closed glass container and leave it in the fridge for 2-4 hours (or for as long as you want) and that’s it!
And if you wanna mix it up and add a few unique ingredients of your own, you can add more cinnamon on top once it’s been served, or other toppings like almonds, to add even more flavor and texture.
Enjoy! And if you do end up trying it, send us a picture on IG @theluzmedia! Happy Holidays from the Luz Family.
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With a business idea in mind, Casteñeda and PonTell decided to take the leap and launch their beverage idea, Agua Bonita.
Agua Bonita means beautiful water in Spanish and the name suits it just right. The brand makes canned aguas frescas in a variety of flavors that come from different fruits. Agua fresca is a very popular drink in Mexico and Central America and the inspiration came from Castañeda's grandfather, who made the drink using fresh fruit collected from the fields in which he worked.
They worked to make their product sustainable by using only produce that would otherwise be discarded and opting for cans that are more easily recycled instead of bottles. The business launched in 2020 and it quickly picked up a following on social media when people discovered a product with a legitimate cultural identity, as opposed to the culture vulture products we’re used to seeing from global beverage producers.
Their alternative to heavily processed and sugar-laden drinks grew so fast that in September of 2020, the company became the first-ever Latina-run beverage startup to raise more than $1 million in funding.
We must know more. Kayla Castañeda, Co-Founder of Agua Bonita, gave us the scoop.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and flow.
LM: Tell us a little bit about yourselves and what led you to create Agua Bonita.
KC: I grew up in a small town in the Central Valley of CA, where we grow most of the nation's produce. I moved to a bunch of big cities for work after graduating highschool, but moved back to my hometown a few years ago when a grandparent got sick. After my grandpa passed, I really began to reevaluate my life and more so my career, and that led me to consulting where I realized that tons of entrepreneurs were just figuring it out as they built. I knew from that point on that I could launch something at a larger scale than anything I had tried to before, and when the pandemic gave me a bunch of time back, it was the perfect time to start Agua Bonita.
LM: Where did the name of Agua Bonita come from?
KC: I definitely knew I wanted something in Spanish to reflect the type of product we are. Agua Bonita is approachable for both Spanish and non-Spanish speaking folks. We were focused on creating a beautiful product – in mission, in product composition, and as a brand. So Bonita was very fitting, and we are an agua fresca so Agua Bonita was where we settled.
LM: What would you say is the biggest challenge of launching a small business, and how did you overcome it?
KC: Having the resources you need to grow. Oftentimes that’s capital, but sometimes it can be access to a particular network. For me, I overcame this by submitting into pitch competitions. Not only did this give us the opportunity to have non-dilutive funding come through the door, but it also gave us access to networks of people that wanted to either help us or buy our products – or both!
LM: You’re quite successful both on and offline - how much would you say your social media has helped you with the growth of your business?
KC: We launched mid pandemic so social media was a huge part of our success. During the pandemic, retailers wouldn’t even talk to us because they were too busy keeping essentials stocked. So we launched DTC (direct-to-consumer) and used social media to move product organically, and that’s how we initially grew our business.
LM: What advice would you give entrepreneurs that want to turn their small business into something bigger?
KC: Figure out the key inflection points of your business – maybe it's closing a round of funding, or getting into a specific retailer – and work backwards from there to plan a roadmap for how to get there, and then execute against that. This will help guide the decisions that need to be made between being the small business you are now and the larger one you want to become.
LM: You have a lot of competitors, some of them huge corporations. What makes Agua Bonita different?
KC: Our community. Big corporations don’t really know what it’s like to invest in making a community, they just want to sell a product. For us, our community is the biggest reason why we have been able to achieve the level of success we have so far.
LM: What has been your proudest business moment so far?
KC: I can’t disclose the details just yet, but being accepted into a very pivotal program with a major retailer. It just validates our business and our product so much and carves out the possibility of really seeing ourselves on shelves en masse.
LM: What advice would you give to other Latinas who want to start their own business?
KC: Go for it, but be strategic and be realistic with your timelines – everything takes longer than you think, and more money than you anticipated. So make sure you’re thinking strategically about your business and have realistic timelines in place to reach your goals.
LM: What’s your biggest takeaway from this experience?
KC: My biggest takeaway from this experience has been learning a lot about myself, my limitations, and my potential.
There’s much to be learned from the successes and the roadblocks Latina entrepreneurs experience. We suspect we’ll be seeing Agua Bonita more often than we do now. Follow along on Agua Bonita’s journey at their Instagram DrinkAguaBonita and if you’re now craving a delicious agua fresca, hop on over to their website.
Courtesy of Agua Bonita
This interview is part of Luz Media’s Alpha Latina: Small Business Saturday series. This series highlights the accomplishments of Alpha Latinas making a difference in their communities through their businesses. Interested in being featured? Email us.