Atole has a really long history. The name comes from theNahuatl (Aztec) word atolli, and like so many foods in Mexico and throughout the Americas, it’s based on corn. Sometimes it’s made with cornstarch, but the more traditional versions, like this one, use masa, the same cornmeal dough used to make tortillas and tamales.
1/2 cup masa harina (masa flour)
5 cups milk or water, according to taste
1/4 cup piloncillo, (Mexican sugar cones) chopped fine or grated
1 stick cinnamon (canela) or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 vanilla bean (split lengthwise) or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a large saucepan, whisk the water or milk into the masa flour little by little until completely mixed and free of lumps. Heat over meadium heat, stirring constantly, until it just begins to thicken. Add piloncillo and cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon. Scrape seeds from vanila bean into pan or add vanilla extract. Stir vigorously until sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil, stirring constantly to keep it from becoming lumpy.
Remove cinnamon stick. Serve hot in mugs.