Holy Molé!

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Breakfast at Chilhuacle Rojo in Oaxaca City

Weeks before we left for Oaxaca, I chose this blog-topic – Hole Molé – knowing that I would return from our visit excited to cook the 7 famous Oaxacan types of molé.  But it’s not to be.  After a week of food-filled Oaxacan days, I realized that Oaxacan food is just too complex for BigLittleMeals…and me.  If I don’t want to track down the hoja santo,  the chilhuacle rojo (which BTW is the name of one of our favorite cafes in Oaxaca),  the avocado leaves, or the 25+ other ingredients that go into some moles, I’m guessing you won’t want to either.

So I’ll focus on three simple Oaxacan specialties: cheese, chocolate, and mezcal.  Meanwhile, Andy – in Andy’s Corner – is busy trying to find out what gets lost in translation.

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Molletes using ciabatta bread and served with salsas and sour cream at Boulenc in Oaxaca City

If you want Oaxacan – yet simple – go for a mollete.  Toast bread (Mexican bolillos is traditional), add a thin layer of refried black beans and a little Oaxacan melting cheese, stick it under the broiler, and serve with a store-bought salsa and some sour cream or crema.  At a fabulous bakery in Oaxaca City, Boulenc,  molletes are made with ciabatta bread.  I highly recommend that.

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Chocolate ground for hot drinks  at the Mercado 20 de Noviembre in Oaxaca City

Every market we visited in Oaxaca had a stand selling Mayordomo Chocolate, which is made in Oaxaca.  And every market had bins of ground chocolate – to be used in drinks.  So we’re offering up a recipe for a simple “snacking cake” with Mexican chocolate.  It’s a cake which even I, as a certified non-chocolate-eater, could over-eat.  If you can’t find Mexican chocolate, other bar chocolate can be substituted.

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Taza Chocolate – Oaxacan-style chocolate made in Maine and available on Amazon

As for mezcal, I love this quote from the article “Mezcal Sunrise” in The New Yorker’s April 2016 issue:  The first sip is mouthwash—harsh, disinfecting, functional. The second reveals the flavors. By the third, people are saying the word “magic,” and it’s not that embarrassing.  How true – if you’re drinking mezcal straight (the purists’ preferred way).  The first sip about blows you away – but it’s all good from then on out!

We’re partial to mezcal cocktails such as this pineapple-y margarita or Joe’s Mezcal Margarita or the Mezcal Negroni, which we blogged about earlier.

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Oaxacan Gold Margarita

Click on “Continue Reading” to get the recipes.

Super Simple Molletes - or Mexican Toasted Cheese Sandwiches

  • 1/4 loaf ciabatta (or use a Mexican bolillo or a kaiser roll), split horizontally; it’s nice to have your bread only about 3/4- 1″ thick
  • 1 T butter
  • around 3-4 T canned refried beans (we use Bush’s Cocina Latina brand or Goya’s Black Bean Soup – which I mush up)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • around 1/2 c grated Oaxacan cheese – or provolone, chihuahua, or Monterrey Jack
  • store bought salsa – such as Pico de Gallo
  • sour cream or Mexican crema

Butter the cut sides of the ciabetta and put the halves under the broiler until the bread slightly browns.  Spread a thin layer of refried beans over each toasted side of bread, sprinkle a bit of salt on top, then add a thin layer of grated cheese.  Place under the broiler again until the cheese melts and is starting to brown a little – a few minutes.

Serve with salsa and sour cream – and please don’t skip them, since they add the perfect finish and are what makes these simple sandwiches delicious and unusual.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann

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Mexican Chocolate Cake – for snacking

Mexican Chocolate Cake

This is a true “snacking cake!”  We snacked on it for days and it was delicious.


  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c strong, hot coffee (I used one packet of Starbuck’s Instant coffee in 1/2 c water)
  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 oz of a gritty Mexican chocolate such as Taza or Ibarra, chopped (or substitute with another 1 oz of regular semi-sweet or even unsweetened chocolate); I used Taza Coffee-flavored Chocolate; if you’re going to Oaxaca, you can bring back some Mayordomo Chocolate (or just buy it on Amazon!)
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla – Mexican would be nice
  • powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease and flour an 8″ round pan.

Whisk together the sugar, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, pour the hot coffee over the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts.  Add the oil and yogurt to the chocolate mixture and whisk.  Then whisk in the egg and vanilla.

Add the chocolate mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool the cake on a rack.  Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.  The cakes keep very well (not refrigerated); beware of snacking on it too much.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann

Oaxacan Gold Margarita

  • Servings: 4
  • Print
Mezcal is somewhat of an acquired taste, due to its smokiness, but we think this cocktail brings out its best.  The recipe is slightly adapted from a Rick Bayless recipe; because the roasted pineapple puree is a bit time-consuming, we recommend making it when you’re having friends over.

For the roasted pineapple puree:

  • 4 c of fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven’s broiler – with the rack placed about 5″ from the heat.  Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.  Put the pineapple chunks in a single layer in the lined pan and broil until the top of the pineapple is moderately charred – around 8 minutes.  Watch closely.  Allow the pineapple chunks to cool slightly, then put them in a blender, along with the sugar and vanilla and puree.  Add enough water to the puree to have a total of 2 1/2 cups and blend again.  Strain the mixture, stirring – not pushing – with a spoon to get as much liquid through as possible.

For the 4 Oaxacan Gold Margaritas:

  • 3/4 c mezcal
  • 1/4 c lime juice
  • 1 1/4 c strained pineapple puree (add a little more water to the puree, if you’re a little short on the amount)
  • ice

Shake the mezcal mixture with the ice (in several batches, if necessary).  Strain into martini glasses and serve.

Rick Bayless rims the glasses with lime juice, followed by a ground chipotle chile pepper/salt mixture, which makes a very attractive and spicier cocktail.
Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann]


  1. Bob Carleton says:

    Love the molettes! A nice lunch! Ciabatta ‘buns’ or small loaves are widely available here; the ones from the Costco bakery are very good and freeze well. Cake looks great as well… maybe served with a scoop of extra-rich-creamy vanilla ice cream?! For company, of course.


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