Tagged pinole

Paletas de Pinole y Chocolate

These paletas exist somewhere between comforting cold weather food and icy refreshing summer treat. Just sweet enough, the pinole granules are mellowed by the richness of chocolate.

These particular paletas were made with Rancho Gordo’s Pinole Azul, but you can also easily make your own.

Paletas de Pinole y Chocolate

  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk, cold
  • 2 tbsp pinole
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2″ piece of Mexican cinnamon
  • 2 ounces baking chocolate (100% cacao), in pieces
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Pour the milk into a small saucepan and whisk in the pinole until smooth, resting for a few minutes to allow the pinole to rehydrate. Bring the milk to a simmer and whisk in the cocoa powder. Add the granulated sugar, salt and cinnamon.

Cook at a low simmer, stirring regularly, until the begins to thicken slightly. Have a bowl ready with the baking chocolate pieces and vanilla extract, with a mesh strainer above it. Pour the mixture through the strainer, pushing with the back of a spoon as necessary. Whisk vigorously to melt the chocolate.

Refrigerate, stirring regularly to speed up the cooling process.

Once completely cooled, pour into popsicle molds and freeze.

Atole de Pinole con Vainilla

It is not difficult to become hooked on pinole. It is not a food for those fearful of carbohydrates, but thankfully, I have never been one of those people. If its food group can be forgiven, it is an energy dense food used for centuries by in the American continent not just for survival in times of food scarcity, but also for pleasure.

Now to clarify on some internet mis-information: pinole and corn meal are not interchangeable. Unless using a rustic stone ground polenta which includes the germ and the hull of the corn kernels, which is then lightly toasted, ground and sweetened into pinole, you will drink a cup of runny grits, not atole de pinole. Steel rolled corn meal is missing the germ and hull, which provide most of the vital nutrients of pinole.

If truly interested in enjoying the full benefits of pinole, take advantage of the many ready made versions available (from Rancho Gordo, Native Seed Search, MexGrocer, etc). Or take the time to make it from toasted (popped or not) whole corn kernels.

My own preference is for atole de pinole made with cow or goat milk, but water is the more traditional (and pre-Columbian) base. This atole is wonderful with the addition of a shot or two of espresso. Just don’t call it a latte.

Atole de Pinole con Vainilla

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup pinole
  • 1 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

Whisk the pinole into 1/2 cup of milk until completely dissolved. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Place the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir in the pinole and milk mixture. Continue to simmer until the beverage has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Check for sweetness. For a caffeinated version, add a shot or two of strong espresso. Garnish with a dusting of cocoa powder.


How To: Pinole from Scratch

Ready made pinole isn’t difficult to find, but making it from scratch is a rather enjoyable experience.

Though blue corn is most popular for pinole, any dried corn suitable for popping can be used, no matter what the color. The steps for pinole are simple: toast and pop the corn, and grind to a fine powder. Sweeten and spice lightly if desired. This particular method, of popping before grinding, seems to be particular to the northern state of Sonora, or so my reading has lead me to believe. While not necessary, it does impart an lightness and sweetness to the corn that simply toasting and grinding does not.


Heirloom corn popcorn for pinole.


Nothing more than that; yet the process also requires some patience, as grinding to a fine powder does take some persistence.

Resist the urge to make this in a large quantity. The 1/4 cup or so of popping corn used for this recipe yielded approximately 4 cups of fluffy pinole, or more than I am likely to use quickly. The corn used was an heirloom popping variety purchased at my local farmers market. To find heirloom popping corn online, I would again point to Rancho Gordo, or to Native Seed Search.     


Heirloom corn pinole.


Though an air popper could be used to dry pop the corn, doing so would eliminate the wonderful toasted flavor gained during the process.

Enjoy this video of Señor Ricardo, producing pinole with his family, and donkey, in Huasabas, Sonora, Mexico.

Pinole - Toasted Corn Flour

  • 1/4 cup popping corn
  • 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


Place a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the corn kernels and cover the pan. Shake the pan occasionally while toasting. Once the corn begins popping, remove from the heat, and continue to shake the pan until the popping stops.

Once completely cooled, working in small batches, grind the popcorn using a blender (or if fortunate enough to have a grain mill at home), mixing in the brown sugar and ground cinnamon during the process.

Mix the ground corn well to evenly distribute the sugar and cinnamon. Store in an airtight container, refrigerating for longer shelf life.


Use your pinole to make an atole, or cookies.

Sick Day Food: Atole de Pinole

Being at home sick means freedom from two things. The wearing of real clothes, and the chewing of food. I simply cannot chew food with a head full of sickness. So I turn to atole de pinole.

Pinole consists of lightly toasted dry corn kernels, and ground to a fine powder. Most of the time, this flour will be lightly sweetened with piloncillo, raw brown sugar, and spiced with cinnamon. In some cases vanilla and other seeds and spices are added. It is one of the foods that blends the ancient pre-Columbian culinary traditions with post-Columbian ingredients.

Cooked into milk, it becomes a silky and filling atole without so much of the overpowering corn flavor present in atoles made with nixtamalized corn. My favorite is the Pinole Azul from Rancho Gordo, though the Pima corn pinole from Ramona Farms is a close second.


Atole de pinole. Toasted blue corn atole. 


Atole de Pinole

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup blue corn pinole
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Small piece Mexican cinnamon
  • Pinch kosher salt

Whisk the pinole into 1/2 cup of milk until completely dissolved. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Place the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir in the pinole and milk mixture. Continue to simmer until the beverage has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Check for sweetness and adjust as needed. Serve hot, cinnamon stick and all.