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Hot Chocolate Machica

Hot Chocolate Machica is a warm, rich, chocolaty, complex and comforting beverage. It’s spiced with familiar fall flavors, barley thickened and is a decidedly cool weather appropriate beverage.

I first came across hot chocolate machica in a Food & Wine article written by Maricel Presilla, in 2001. I was intrigued and wanted to know more. I learned, in many South American cultures, beverages thickened with toasted grains are common place. Most often corn flour (masa) is used but in certain areas, grains such as barely are consumed, as is the case in Ecuador. 

These types of beverages are often associated with times of seasonal celebration like Día de Muertos or Día los Muertos (The Day of the Dead, Nov. 1st – 2nd) and are perfect for holiday celebrations in Western culture, like Halloween (Oct. 31st), Samhain or All Saints Day (Nov. 1st).

This recipe is a deliciously thick and hearty take on an ordinary cup of hot chocolate. It’s simple, easy to throw together and is a fantastic restorative on a cool night or finish to a fall or winter dinner party. This recipe will enchant all manner of chocolate lover and is definitely worth adding to your repertoire. 

Now chop-chop, get a toasty fire going, conjure up a mug of hot Chocolate Machica and celebrate the season of connection between the living and the dead.

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Hot Chocolate Machica

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)


  • Author: Asha
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x


Units Scale
  • 6 cups whole milk or your favorite plant-based milk
  • 1/41/2 hulled barley (not pearl barley)
  • 36 tablespoons dark muscovado sugar (or dark brown sugar)
  • 68 ounces, excellent quality, semi-sweet chocolate (60% cacao), chopped
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract (or the beans scrapped from one vanilla pod)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (more for garnish)
  • 24 teaspoons fresh ground cinnamon
  • 1/21 teaspoon fresh ground cloves
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/21 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)


  1. In a medium size, dry pan, toast the barley over medium heat until browned and aromatic (approximately 3-5 minutes).
  2. Using a coffee or spice grinder, grind the toasted barley until it resembles the texture of flour.
  3. In a small bowl, add the toasted barley flour, sifted muscovado sugar, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, espresso powder and pinch of sea salt. Mix to combine
  4. In a medium/large pot, add the milk and the cinnamon sticks. Heat over medium/high heat, bring to a light boil, whisking frequently to avoid scorching the milk on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium/low and remove the pot from the heat while you add the additional ingredients to the pot.
  5. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until dissolve, then add the toasted barley and spice mixture and return to the heat.
  6. Continue to cook the hot chocolate over medium/low heat, stirring frequently, until it thickens (approximately 5 minutes). Remove the cinnamon sticks and add the vanilla. Stir to combine.

To Serve

  • If you like a grainer texture (like myself), serve immediately. For a smoother texture, use a regular or immersion blender to blend until smooth, being careful not to burn yourself.
  • Pour the Hot Chocolate Machica into mugs and serve as is or with optional garnishes, such as a light sprinkle of orange zest and/or, ground cinnamon or chocolate shavings.
  • The consistency of Hot Chocolate Machica will continue to thicken as the barley absorbs the moisture and the chocolate sets as it cools. I recommend serving it with a spoon or stirrer to preserve the silken quality of the drink.


Hot Chocolate Machica ranges from a thick pudding like consistency to a more liquid consistency. The spice level and sweetness can vary as well. To find your happy place, I recommend you follow this recipe, start with conservative amounts of the ingredients, then add more/adjust according to your preferences.

Store leftovers in a heat proof, airtight container (I recommend a Mason or Ball jar) in the refrigerator. The Hot Chocolate Machica will become thicker and pudding like as it sits. Enjoy it as is (up to 3 days) or reheat it, by adding a little extra milk and warm via stove top or microwave.

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