Friday, July 1, 2011

A Sweet & Spicy Trend

When GWG combined the forces of our collective sweet tooth, we found ourselves on the tempting trail of a local dessert trend. We’ve seen Mexican chocolate beverages served in coffee shops, but recently noticed this sweet and spicy combination making an appearance on several dessert menus.

Based on web research, “Mexican chocolate refers to either the round, flat disks of cinnamon-scented chocolate found throughout the land [of Mexico] or the foamy drink made from them.” The local variations are chocolate treats accented with a kick of cinnamon, nutmeg, and in some cases cayenne.

Our work started one night at The Parlour ice cream truck—a second helping led us to the Mexican Hot Chocolate flavor, a vegan option. Perhaps not as creamy as the dairy selections, this version is made with coconut milk and has an understated element of spice. Not ones to observe many dietary restrictions, we found this frozen sweet to be quite satisfying but were unable to confirm if it makes for a lower calorie choice.
The next stop was Scratch Bakery where we ordered a slice of Mexican Chocolate Pie. Served chilled, the pie consists of three layers—a chocolate cookie crust, topped with a silky chocolate center, topped with meringue. Each layer provided its own texture, and together they created a sweet and spicy delight. The first bite has a traditional chocolate pudding flavor, but just wait as the spice sneaks up on you.
Over on Ninth Street we visited Elmo’s Diner who recently added a Mexican Chocolate Milkshake to its classic menu of shakes and malts. Another frozen variation of the treat, Elmo’s version is offered with the option of cayenne pepper. We went with the extra spice and found this to be the most flavor-intense of the four desserts we tried. However, this spiciness is not the kind that sets your mouth on fire and gives you the sweats—it’s a peppery taste that creates a kick while the chocolate has an almost soothing effect. Due to the intensity and heaviness of the shake, we think this is a good one to share.
GWG is no stranger to Locopops (in a previous post we attempted to eat 11 on a hot sunny day), but this time we stopped in specifically for the Mexican Chocolate pop (which we believe to be the treat that inspired this trend). Admittedly, we’ve had this one before and always enjoy it—the flavor was similar to Elmo’s shake but with a smoother texture and a little less kick. One of these makes a perfect serving for a flavor that can be on the rich side.
At the end of our taste-testing, we give our recommendation to all four of the Mexican Chocolate inspired treats. If you aren’t up for trying them all, we thought Elmo’s shake stood out for the biggest kick factor and Scratch’s pie was the most original take on the theme. If you come across another variation, please share!


  1. I love your posts! Keeping eating and drinking and sharing Durham tips!

  2. Thanks, Sabbatical Chef! We love sharing our stories and appreciate all our readers.

  3. Escazu chocolates in Raleigh does a great spicy chocolate push-up pop (ice cream popsicle). In the winter, their Mexican hot chocolate is great too. Speaking of hot chocolate, Taqueria La Vaquita's version is amazing.

  4. Ben, thanks for sharing that info! Those do sound good.