How to Use Mexican Chocolate

We tested Mexican chocolate in place of our favorite dark chocolate in chocolate sheet cake and flourless chocolate cake. Here’s why the results were disastrous.

Both Mexican chocolate and European-style chocolate are made from cacao nibs that have been harvested from roasted dried beans, but whereas the European kind is conched to reduce acidity and tempered to yield a smooth, glossy consistency, the nibs for Mexican chocolate are ground in a stone mill called a molino, combined with sugar and cinnamon (and sometimes nuts and chiles), ground to a paste, and poured into puck-shaped molds. Another difference: Supermarket brands of Mexican chocolate such as Ibarra and Abuelita contain more sugar than cocoa solids and don’t cite a cacao percentage.

Mexican chocolate isn’t designed to be eaten out of hand (although some of us enjoy it that way), and it can’t be used as a direct substitute for bittersweet chocolate in baked goods. When we used it in place of our favorite dark chocolate to make a couple of kinds of chocolate cake, the results were disastrous: The extra sugar made chocolate sheet cake tacky, and flourless chocolate cake separated into a runny mess. And neither dessert had robust chocolate flavor. Instead, we recommend sticking to traditional uses for Mexican chocolate: melting it in hot milk or water to make cocoa or stirring it into savory sauces such as mole.


Mexican chocolate is best for cocoa and mole.

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