Calavera Chocolate-Chai

Day of the Dead always brings back the most beautiful memories from my childhood growing up in Mexico.

One of my favorite times of the year, I always loved going to the market by my grandma's house to buy all the sweets and papel picado, setting our altar, and eating special food like tamales, hot chocolate, and pan de muerto. 

The inspiration behind this beverage comes from the traditional flavors of “chocolate caliente” or Mexican hot chocolate and my love for Masala chai, which are both staple drinks in our Indo-Mexican house! 

Comforting, aromatic and addictive, this calavera choco-chai is bound to become a favorite seasonal beverage.

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Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yields: 2 beverages


  • ½  cup of water

  • 2 cups of whole milk 

  • 2 black tea bags or 1 teaspoon of loose black tea 

  • 1.5 oz (42 g) of Mexican table chocolate (Ibarra, Mayordomo, Abuelita are the most common brands. If using cocoa powder, you will need 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder + 2 tablespoons of sugar. 

  • 1 piece of star anise

  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder 

  • ½ teaspoon of cardamom powder

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder 

tips before starting

  • I have used whole milk, but you can make this drink vegan by using a plant-based milk like oat milk.

  • If you can't find Mexican chocolate, you can use a substitution of cocoa powder and sugar. *Note: Mexican table chocolate already comes with sugar so if you decide to use cocoa powder, make sure to add sugar to the drink as well.

  • If you are using loose tea, you will have to strain the drink before serving.

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  1. Boil the water in a small saucepan.
  2. Once it’s at boiling point, add your tea bags or loose tea, reduce the flame to low and infuse the water with the tea for about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the tea bags. If you are using loose leaf tea you will have to strain the drink at the end. 
  4. Add your table chocolate (or cocoa powder + sugar if not using Mexican chocolate) and stir constantly until the chocolate has dissolved.
  5. Now it's time to add all your spices and vanilla extract. Keep stirring for 5 minutes on a low flame.
  6. Add the milk, stir well and bring to a boil.
  7. Let it boil for 5 more minutes for a creamier consistency.
  8. Use a molinillo or a milk frother for some extra froth.
  9. If you are using loose tea, strain and serve in your favorite mug.

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About the Author

Gabriela Cárdenas

Gaby is a passionate home cook from Mexico. Life took her to Mumbai, India where she fell in love with the country, the food and her husband Jasdeep. She is the brains behind @thepunjaxican, an Instagram account where she shares her favorite Indian and Mexican dishes with her own Punjaxican (Punjabi + Mexican) recipes as a homage to both ethnicities. Punjaxican is the type of fusion recipes she makes at home when they are “ni muy muy ni tan tan” Indian or Mexican.

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