Growing up in a Mexican household, we celebrated the last nine days of Advent by participating in Las Posadas. This is a nine-day celebration that begins on December 16th. The nine nights of posadas leading up to Christmas are said to represent the nine-day journey that it took Mary and Joseph to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The celebration begins with a procession in which the participants hold candles and sing Christmas carols. They go to several homes and eventually end up at a designated house. This is repeated nine consecutive evenings, and a different house hosts each night. I have fond memories from my childhood of eating tamales and bunuelos and drinking champurrado while breaking pinatas.
I have mentioned to my husband how wonderful it would be to continue the tradition and then we both laugh at the thought of staying up late at parties for nine days in a row with our seven kids. Maybe in a few years we will reach a point where the “Advent Pub Crawl” (as my husband calls it) will be something we can share with our friends. For right now, I make the champurrado and bunuelos and eat them in the comfort of my home. Below is a recipe for the champurrado which is a thick hot chocolate.
8 cups water or milk
5 oz of piloncillo or 1/2 cup of sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 Mexican Chocolate tablets (Abuelita brand is most common)
3/4 cup of masa harina corn flour
Place 6 cups of water in a large saucepan along with the piloncillo and the cinnamon stick. Heat water until it starts boiling and then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes until the piloncillo has melted. If you are using regular sugar, this step will take less time since the sugar will dissolve in about 4-5 minutes.
Once the piloncillo or sugar has dissolved, add the 2 Mexican chocolate tablets and allow about 5 minutes to dissolve, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, pour the other 2 cups of water or milk and mix in the masa harina. Mix well with an egg beater if possible to avoid any clumps forming. Make sure you have a very creamy texture.
Turn the heat to medium-high until the champurrado starts boiling, then reduce the heat to low; gently simmer, stirring constantly. It will thicken after 6-8 minutes. Cook another 5 minutes. If you like the champurrado thicker, add a few more tablespoons of the masa harina