Mexican hot chocolate is usually made from a hockey puck looking disk of bitter chocolate that already has the sugar in it. Usually it is blended with hot water or milk and seasoned with cinnamon and coffee flavors. Canela, the Spanish word for cinnamon, also known as Ceylon cinnamon, is a true cinnamon that is used frequently in Mexican cooking. A native of Ceylon (Sri Lanka), it is also a primary ingredient in Indian, African and Asian foods as well. Its floral, complex taste sets it apart from cassia, the bark that most often substitutes for true cinnamon. The thin and fragile bark of canela makes it highly perishable, so it is best to use and grind it only as needed. Naturally, it is good for myriad sweet dishes like cakes, cookies, pies and ice cream, and is the penultimate accompaniment for anything chocolate.
Equipment: Fondue pot; fondue forks or wooden or metal skewers
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch to blend. Slowly whisk in the cream; then the milk, coffee, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour the mixture into a stainless steel saucepan and gently bring it to a boil. Cook, whisking, until thickened, about 4 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate and butter until melted. Using a fine-meshed sieve over a large bowl, strain the chocolate mixture and discard the solids. Pour into a warmed fondue pot and serve with assorted dippers and fondue forks.