WordPress has this handy (and only slightly stalkery) little page that tells you how many people visited your site today and where they’ve come from and I’ve been noticing that the search term that comes up the most is pinolillo. I was a little curious to see how far up the list I was and amazingly, if you type in pinolillo or pinolillo recipe on google, this site is number 5. Wow… I’m really quite impressed, but it does mean that the information I’ve actually got here feels horribly and woefully inadequate and the only recipe that I had that was even close to pinolillo has since been replaced by chocolate sauce for meat, a harrowing thing to find if you’re looking for how to make a wonderful wonderful refreshing drink.

So in an attempt to rectify this I’m going to put down some basic information on it and 3 recipes right here and make a nice big comprehensive guide to the world’s most awesome chocolate drink. Here goes…

Pinolillo is like the national drink in Nicaragua and is made from powder of cocoa and toasted corn mixed with ice and water – if you’re hardcore – or milk – if you’re not. Apart from the basics you can add spices or sugar to make it taste how you want. I’ve heard that you can even mix the powder with coffee instead of water, but I haven’t tried it yet, sounds good though.

Although it basically is iced chocolate it’s very very nutritious… I certainly hope it is because once the shop opens I’m practically going to be living off of the stuff. It’s refreshing, bitter and grainy and will separate into a scummy bottom layer and a cloudy top layer as you drink it, so make sure that you’ve always got a spoon or a whatever the Nicaraguan version of a molinillo is called(damn failing memory) to stir it up with while you drink. As Seb will tell you it’s a bit of an acquired taste and if you’re used to and expecting something like chocolate milk then your taste buds will definitely be in for a shock, but give it a try and come back to it a couple times and you might just come to love it as much as I do. If you’re feeling like easing yourself in gently then skip to recipe 3.

Pinolillo… the hardcore way

In a vein similar to the amazing Dona Martha recipes the quantities and ingredients for this recipe for Pinolillo make it awesome, but sadly impossible for most people outside of a Nicaraguan festival. If I had room to toast 3kg of maize until “it get slightly brown in colour” I so so would. Here’s an adapted version using smaller quantities and things that you can actually find in the UK.

2-3 cobs of corn (enough to fill 2 cups with kernels)

50g of roasted cocoa nibs (or about enough to fill half a cup)

half a teaspoon of cinnamon

a healthy dash of paprika

about a teaspoon of chili powder (all three optional, but tasty)

Cook the corn and put it in a pot of cold water, bring the water up to the boil and then drain the corn. Take all the kernels off of the cobs and as much as possible try to make them come off in one piece. I find that it’s a lot easier if I cut the cobs lengthways first, you lose some, but the rest comes off a lot easier, but if you can manage without then great. Turn the grill on to a fairly low setting and then put all the corn onto the biggest baking tray you’ve got and pop them under. Take them out from under the heat every couple of minutes or so and give them a good shake to make sure they get toasted evenly. Make sure that they don’t get burned… it makes it taste nasty. Once they’re dried out then mix them up with all the other stuff and pick your way to turn it into powder, our house isn’t high tech so I have to use the plastic bag and rock method, if you’ve got a blender that chops everything really finely or a coffee grinder you don’t mind smelling of chocolate and popcorn then use that.

And then you’re done, to make it up into a drink add a heaped tablespoon to a glass and stir it like crazy. The UN approved recipe puts it better so I’ll just quote them…

“The product can be solved in water or milk and sweeten with sugar as much is required, and it is served cold with chips of ice.”


Pinolillo… the way that doesn’t take hours and hours

Really, to make the first recipe you’ve got to spend an afternoon on it and to be honest cocoa nibs aren’t really that easy to get hold of and corn’s not all that good out of season. This recipe is piss easy and tastes almost the same… just it’s not quite as fun. The only problem with it is that cocoa powder doesn’t have any of the cocoa butter in it that makes the cocoa nibs so delicious so this mix isn’t anywhere near as tasty if you mix it with water, if you mix it with milk then it’s still very good.

100g of good quality cornflour

25g of cocoa powder

a dash of cinnamon

a dash-that’s-been-on-a-diet of paprika

a fair bit of chili (Again, all the spices are optional, but nice. This is what I like to use, but you should experiment with your own)

Heat up the heaviest largest frying pan you’ve got and once it’s nice and warm put in all the cornflour. Turn the heat down fairly low and then let it toast. Come back and give it a shake every minute or so to make sure it doesn’t burn and once it starts to smell really really good add the cocoa powder and toast for another minute or so. Let it cool down slightly and mix in the spices. Tada! Pinol powder… solve and enjoy.

Pinolillo… the way that tastes like chocolate milk and popcorn

Strictly speaking this isn’t pinolillo, but it is very tasty, plus if you find the other recipes just too odd tasting, but really want to like them then this is a good way to get your body used to the idea that chocolate and corn really do taste good together. Instead of cocoa this recipe uses a mix of dark chocolate (for the cocoa) and white chocolate (for the cocoa butter). It’s very important to use good quality chocolate in this recipe, too much sugar or other additives will overpower the flavour of the corn and it’ll just taste like a normal chocolate drink but it’ll also be gritty.

50g of corn flour

30ml of cream (more or less one shotglass)

25g of dark chocolate couverture (cocoa butter content of at least 30%)

10g of good white chocolate (ditto)

one shake of cinnamon

a hint of paprika

dash of chili (I don’t think I need to say it again)

a drop of vanilla essence (I would put it in all the recipes, but it would mess up the powder and I’m not quite rich enough to use vanilla pods.)

a whole load of milk
Toast the cornflour just like in the recipe above and when it’s done take it off the heat and replace it with a pot of hot water with the cream in a bowl jammed in the top. Break up the chocolate into little bits and when the cream gets about as hot as a bath throw them in and let them melt, mix in the spices and then the cornflour and beat it all together until you’ve got a thick paste. Let it cool down, mix it with milk until it’s the strength you like and enjoy, I’d say this makes enough for two really big glasses.

Yay for chocolate and maize! Together they will rule the world.