Enjoy Rich, Bold Gourmet TRUE REAL Mexican Vanilla From the Birthplace of Vanilla

Sep 03, 23
Enjoy Rich, Bold Gourmet TRUE REAL Mexican Vanilla From the Birthplace of Vanilla



Enjoy Rich, Bold Gourmet Mexican Vanilla From the Birthplace of Vanilla

  • Mexican vanilla. Has a bold and dark flavor, along with smoky overtones. The intensity makes it great in recipes that feature vanilla flavors prominently. Mexican vanilla is often considered the best vanilla beans, even though options like Madagascar vanilla are currently more popular.  Mexican vanilla has a deeper, smoother, truer vanilla flavor

At an average $9.99/bean, or $160/8 oz which is a jar for vanilla extract, not counting the top shelf quality vodka like Grey Goose.  Even Mexican “true” vanilla, isn’t cheap.  Vanilla is still the second highest spice in the world, next to the pricy saffron.

Buy vanilla from Mexico, the country of origin for all vanilla beans. The Totonacs of Veracruz are known as one of the first people to harvest and use vanilla beans. Vanilla was a sacred herb with an honored place in ritual offerings. It was also used as a perfume and for medicinal purposes, but it was not commonly used as a flavoring.

The Aztec Empire conquered the Totonacs in the 1400s. The use of chocolate in beverages began with the Aztecs, and they were the first people to create a delicious drink from vanilla beans as well. Xocohotl was a rich beverage created with a combination of chocolate and vanilla. 

How Vanilla Became A Favorite Spice Worldwide

Mexico remained the only source of vanilla until the late 1800s when various explorers began exporting the plants to other countries. The first attempts to uproot and transfer vanilla plants didn't end well. Botanists were puzzled until they realized that the milipona bees, found only in Mexico, were the main pollinators for vanilla flowers. Vanilla beans were finally grown in other locations when one person realized that a bamboo shoot could be used to pollinate flowers by hand.

Although vanilla beans have evolved since they were first discovered and exported, beans from Mexico are still quite close to the flavors of the original beans. The quality of a vanilla bean depends on the skills and methods used to cultivate, harvest, and cure the beans and pods. Vanilla is actually a type of orchid, and the plant is known as one of the most labor-intensive commercial crops. 

Vanilla plants are cultivated and harvested by hand. Producers in Mexico wait nine months after pollination before harvesting vanilla beans. They remove the green to yellow pods from the plants once ripe ,long after the flowers have died. Traditionally Mexican vanilla bean pods were laid out in the hot days sun to dry for an average of 20 days, which also allows the pods to begin fermenting.

Modern producers now rarely use the traditional approach to curing and  more commonly rely on water killing of vanilla beans to jump start the fermentation process of sweating, drying and conditioning.

The robust flavor of Mexican vanilla extract excels in rich dessert recipes, such as cheesecakes, sweet breads, chocolate confections, custards, ice creams and crème brulee.

Mexican vanilla extract also pair well with citrus fruits, spicy salsas, and barbecue sauces. These beans enhance ginger snaps and other spiced cookie varieties. Mixed drinks, such as spiced cocktails and margaritas, are also enhanced by rich vanilla flavor.

Flavor Profile: A rich, bold, and smooth vanilla foundation is complemented by an intriguing medley of honeyed sweetness, subtle nuances, and intense spicy undertones, culminating in a harmonious and satisfying experience. The aroma consists of potent vanilla notes interlaced with gentle hints of warm spice, toasted oak, and a whisper of caramel sweetness. This mesmerizing fragrance will fill your kitchen!

Divine Aromas and Flavoring

The flavor and aroma profile of Planifolia Vanilla Beans is complex and nuanced, with notes of caramel, chocolate, and floral undertones. The flavor is delicate yet intense, with a creamy, velvety texture that adds depth and richness to desserts and beverages.

Mexican cuisine has a long history of using vanilla in a variety of dishes, from traditional flan to modern fusion desserts. Some of the most popular dishes using Planifolia Vanilla Beans in Mexico include Mexican Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Tres Leches Cake, and Horchata, a refreshing rice and cinnamon drink.

We at Gourmet Vanilla & Spice, ONLY use Gourmet quality Grade A vanilla beans.  Grade A beans are the highest quality, with a plump, moist appearance and a strong, sweet aroma.  Here our Mexican vanilla beans are considered “Rare” which means The Vanilla Bean Rare Index classifies beans according to their rarity based on location, farmer and vanilla bean type. These Planifolia Vanilla Beans from Veracruz in Mexico are more readily available than other varieties grown in semi remote regions. Hence they are categorized as Rare.

Now, the unpleasant task of information about vanilla bought “in” Mexico, usually a larger bottle at a low price, a great find my tourist, unaware of the health hazards and “not real” vanilla, because Mexico doesn’t regulate labeling as we do here in America, so they can say pure vanilla, when in fact there are NO vanilla beans used in making that extract. Here is a link to an article that is a must read for anyone regarding “vanilla” bought in Mexico.  NOT to be confused with Mexican vanilla beans imported and used to make vanilla extract as we do here at GourmetVanillaSpice.com 

Mexican vanilla is generally manufactured with the extract of tonka beans. These beans come from a completely different plant species belonging to the pea family. The component coumarin found in these beans contributes to an authentic rich flavor in the artificial extract, however, is outlawed in the United States due to health concerns.”  https://www.spicybuffalo.com/food-substitutes/is-mexican-vanilla-the-same-as-vanilla-extract/

Are you interested in a very authentic use of vanilla with a recipe from the Aztexs and Mayans for hot chocolate?

There's hot chocolate and then there's this super-flavorful, intense and delicious Xocolatl!  Xocolatl is a spiced, slightly bitter chocolate drink that was popular with Aztecs and Mayans. It's a rich drink with chili, vanilla and cinnamon that can be enjoyed hot or cold. You're going to love it!  It's not as sweet as typical hot cocoa, so you can taste the flavor in the chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla and chilli. This refreshing drink can be enjoyed hot or cold.

Xocolatl originated in Mayan culture and is the original hot chocolate drink.

It was the preserve of the wealthy, royals or nobility, but they also served it to warriors to give them energy. They enjoyed it bitter and usually served it cold.

This version is based on a traditional recipe where chocolate, cinnamon, chili and vanilla combine into a delicious drink, but it's a little sweeter so more suitable to modern tastes. It's full of great flavor, slightly spicy and less sweet than typical American hot chocolate.

This Xocolatl recipe has a little kick of spice, like Mexican hot chocolate.

It's soooo good. I hope you love it as much as we do.

Mayan and Aztec Hot Chocolate

Did you know that hot chocolate originated from the Mayans back in around 1500 AD?

Xocolatl, translated as chocolate or 'bitter drink', was made of cocoa beans ground up with spices and served as a beverage.

Since they didn’t have any way to cultivate sugar, the drink was bitter and spicy, unlike the modern-day version of hot chocolate.

In this recipe, I’ve toned down the bitterness by making this drink with chocolate chips and some sweetener.

Make it the traditional way

To make this an authentic Xocolatl, the way the Aztecs and Mayans did, tweak the recipe by:

  • Use all water instead of part water and part milk.
  • Leave out the honey or sugar.
  • Serve it cold.

You might not want to actually drink it that way though!

Why You'll Love This Recipe

The chocolate, chili, and sweetness come together to make a delicious flavor profile that is smooth and decadent.

You can control the spice level by adding as much or as little red chili as you can tolerate.

Xocolatl is a perfect recipe for kids studying Mayan or Aztec history in school or KS2.

It’s a great dessert to make when you aren’t feeling like cake, cookies, or pastries.

You can make this hot chocolate refined sugar-free by using honey or maple syrup instead of sugar.

Serve it up in a clear glass mug for a beautiful chocolate brown presentation at a party.

It can be served warm or cold, which makes it a great drink to make ahead of time.


  • Milk - A full-fat milk is best in this recipe, but feel free to use whatever milk you enjoy.
  • Chocolate Chips - You’ll need dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips to make Xocolatl. If you’re watching your sugar, use sugar-free chocolate.
  • Honey - This helps sweeten up the hot chocolate and can be used more or less, depending on your tastes. Substitute sugar if desired.
  • Cinnamon - Adds a comforting warming flavor to the hot chocolate and helps to make it a traditional Mayan or Aztec recipe.
  • Vanilla Extract - Infuses hot chocolate with a light vanilla flavor.
  • Red Chili - This is what makes the hot chocolate spicy. Leave it in to simmer and often test to check the level of spice.
  • Xocolatl - Aztec Hot Chocolate
  • Kate Hackworthy | Veggie Desserts
  • Xocolatl is an ancient Aztec and Mayan Hot Chocolate recipe with chili, vanilla and cinnamon that's served hot or cold. Rich, spicy and tasty.
  • Prep Time 2 minutes mins
  • Cook Time 15 minutes mins
  • Total Time 17 minutes mins
  • Course Drink
  • Cuisine Aztec, Mayan, Mexican
  • Servings 2
  • Calories 349 kcal


  • 1 ½ cups (350ml) milk
  • ½ cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips or 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup (120ml) water
  • 2 teaspoons honey or sugar or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 red chili


  1. Warm the milk and chocolate chips in a pan over a low/medium heat until the chocolate melts, whisking often.
  2. Whisk in the water, honey, cinnamon and vanilla.
  3. Cut the chili in half, remove and discard the seeds, then add the chili to the pot. Allow the mixture to nearly come to the boil, then remove from the heat.
  4. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes to infuse the flavors. Taste during this time and remove the chili if it’s getting too spicy, and add more sweetener if desired.
  5. Serve warm or cold.

If you try either traditional or modern Mexican hot chocolate recipes here, please let us know in a comment what you think?

Gourmet Vanilla & Spice, offers several regions of Mexican vanilla beans in our gourmet extract.  We also offer in different spirits and non-alcohol variety using vegetable glycerin.  Please note, NO “clear” vanilla is real, it’s all artificial, as you never get real vanilla extract that is clear without the traditional caramel brown color vanilla extract is recognized as.    http//GourmetVanillaSpice.com

Leave a Comment