Going Coastal: Aztec Hot Chocolate

This recipe is similar to the original chocolate that the Conquistadors discovered when they arrived in ancient Mexico and Central America.  Montezuma purportedly drank fifteen gallons of the stuff everyday to help him service his 15,000 concubines.

Aztec Hot Chocolate
2 cups boiling water
1 chili pepper, cut in half, seeds removed
5 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 to 2 cinnamon sticks
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/4"pieces
2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
l tablespoon almonds or hazelnuts, ground extra fine

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add chili pepper to boiling water. Cook until liquid is reduced to 1 cup. Remove chili pepper; strain the water, and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick until bubbles appear around the edge. Reduce heat to low; add chocolate and honey; whisk occasionally until chocolate is melted and silky. Turn off heat; remove vanilla bean and cinnamon stick. Add chili-infused water, a little at a time, tasting to make sure the flavor isn't too strong. If chocolate is too thick, thin with a little more milk.
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