Mexican atole, a hot drink made from corn, comes in a staggering variety of flavors, from sweet to savory, each one more delicious than the next. In this sweet one, the corn-flavored base, made from masa harina, is infused with orange zest for a warming, aromatic beverage that's perfect for winter.
Note: Exactly how much water and sugar you add will determine the final consistency and sweetness of the drink. This recipe produces a fairly thick, rich drink that is mildly sweet. You can add more water and sugar if you want a thinner, sweeter version.
- 1/2 cup masa harina para tortillas
- 3 cups water, plus more as needed, divided (see note)
- 1 cup milk
- 3 (1-inch) strips orange zest from 1 large orange
- 2 star anise pods (optional)
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar (see note)
- Kosher salt
- Finely grated orange zest, for garnish
In a large saucepan, add masa and set over medium heat. Immediately add water in a slow, thin stream while whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Bring to a simmer and whisk in milk, orange zest strips, star anise (if using), brown sugar, and a generous pinch of salt.
Return to a simmer and lower heat to low. Continue to simmer gently, whisking constantly, until drink is infused with the orange aroma, about 5 minutes. Discard orange zest strips and star anise pods. Thin with additional water, as needed, to create a thick-yet-drinkable hot beverage (the exact consistency is a matter of personal taste, see note), reheating as necessary. Taste, adding more sugar or salt if desired. Froth with a whisk or immersion blender, then ladle into mugs, garnish with grated orange zest and serve.