Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding

This dessert tastes like a rich, creamy Mexican chocolate pudding made with loads of milk and cream, but is actually low-fat and can be made 100% dairy-free (depending on the chocolate you use). Even better, it’s a snap to make, and the ingredients aren’t hard to find.

The most important variable in this recipe is the quality and type of chocolate that you use. Since tofu has very little flavor on its own, whatever chocolate you use will be the main thing that you taste- so use good chocolate! I recommend a good-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate for this recipe- milk chocolate tends to be a bit too sweet (although you could probably adjust the amount of sugar in this recipe or add a little instant espresso powder to balance out the extra sweetness). There are also plenty of vegan chocolate options on the market today for folks who need to avoid dairy altogether for dietary or allergy reasons.

If you want to–and you can find it in your area–you can use real Mexican chocolate to give this recipe a more authentic flavor (see my Cook’s Notes below for in-depth info on sourcing and using authentic Mexican ingredients). If using Mexican chocolate, you can reduce or omit the cinnamon and chili powder in this recipe- these ingredients are only used to replicate the flavor profile of real Mexican chocolate, so you shouldn’t need them if you’re using the genuine article.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings (depending on the size of your ramekins or dessert glasses).


  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 pound silken tofu
  • 8 ounces high-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract**
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon***
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste****
  • pinch cayenne (optional)
  • chocolate shavings (optional)


  1. In a small pot, combine sugar with ¾ cup water; bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
  2. Put all ingredients except for chocolate shavings in a blender or food processor and purée until completely smooth, stopping machine to scrape down its sides if necessary. Divide among 4 to 6 ramekins or dessert glasses and chill for at least 30 minutes. If you like, garnish with chocolate shavings before serving.

Cook’s Notes:

If you’re the type of person who insists on making every dish as “authentic” as possible, read on for in-depth ingredient info:

*Real Mexican chocolate is not your average chocolate. Made from ground roasted cocoa nibs, sugar, and cinnamon, it has a slightly granular texture and a distinctive spiced flavor. Besides cinnamon, Mexican chocolate may also contain other spices like nutmeg or allspice, as well as chiles (for heat) and nuts (for texture). Mexican chocolate is often used make hot chocolate, but it’s also a key ingredient in savory sauces like mole.

Ibarra and Abuelita, the two most common brands of Mexican chocolate.

The two big commercial brands of Mexican table chocolate that are most widely available in the U.S. are Ibarra and Nestle’s Abuelita- look for them in large supermarkets or your neighborhood Latin grocery store or bodega. Some gourmet and organic markets also carry the Taza brand, an organic line of Mexican chocolate with a range of different flavor profiles. Several other brands exist regionally, and if you are lucky enough to find a local or artisanal variety, by all means, try it!

**According to one of my favorite sources for spices, Penzeys, there really is difference between Madagascar vanilla and Mexican vanilla, even though both are made from the “beans” (actually the seed pods) of the same species of orchid (Vanilla planifolia), which is endemic to Mexico but was introduced to Madagascar by the French in 1819. Madagascar vanilla beans are now widely considered to be the standard by which all other vanilla is judged; however, Mexican vanilla beans are still renowned for their darker flavor, which is perfect for making vanilla liqueur, chocolate, and coffee drinks. Although climate and the soil probably have some impact on the plants themselves, the biggest factor which contributes to any appreciable difference in taste and scent is probably the method of production- Madagascar vanilla takes about 5 weeks of aging to develop its signature flavor, but Mexican vanilla is often cured for several months.

That said, a lot of Mexican vanilla extract (especially the cheap stuff a lot of tourists buy on vacation) is often adulterated, and some bottles may be nothing more than imitation vanilla- usually ethyl vanillin derived from coal tar. Some bottles also contain chemical additives like coumarin (a derivative of the tonka bean) which boost the vanilla scent and flavor at a fraction of the cost of real vanilla beans. The problem with this practice is that coumarin can be toxic in large doses, and can have negative interactions with certain medications (especially warfarin, as coumarin acts on the body in a similar manner). The use of coumarin in food products has been banned by the U.S. FDA since 1954; however, Mexico has no such ban, and other countries take a more nuanced or relaxed stance on tonka beans and coumarin. For example, the use of tonka beans in food is legal in Canada, but the use of coumarin as a food additive is not; the European Food Safety Authority, however, found in 2004 that the amount of coumarin most people might reasonably ingest fell well below the threshold for tolerable daily intake, with cassia cinnamon constituting a greater potential risk than tonka beans or coumarin additives in vanilla-flavored products (more on cassia below).

Ultimately, it’s your call, but out of an abundance of caution (and because of U.S. import and food safety laws) I can’t recommend Mexican vanilla in this recipe. Unless you are 100% sure you are buying pure Mexican vanilla extract from a reputable source, you’re probably better off using Madagascar vanilla, or even a good-quality imitation vanilla (that has been duly inspected and meets your country’s food safety standards, or course). Honestly, I doubt anyone will notice the difference in terms of taste, and it’s probably going to be much easier for you to find a safer vanilla or imitation vanilla anyways.

***Mexican cinnamon, also called canela, originally hails from Sri Lanka and the southwest coast of India, where it is called Ceylon cinnamon (it’s now cultivated in Mexico in places such as Puebla, Veracruz, Tabasco, the West Indies and certain islands of the east coast of Africa). It’s made from thin strips of the aromatic bark of the “true” cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum verum), and is widely considered to be superior in flavor. However, Ceylon cinnamon’s cheaper cousin, cassia, is more widely marketed in the U.S.and Canada- even though cassia naturally contains significant amounts of coumarin (which is banned as a food additive in both countries). Cassia comes from the thick bark of a related species of cinnamon tree that’s native to Indonesia (Cinnamomum aromaticum), and is much stronger in flavor- some would even describe it as harsh or overpowering.

Not sure whether you have true cinnamon or cassia? There’s an easy way to tell- canela is much thinner, softer, and flakier than cassia, which is much thicker and quite hard. You can easily grind true cinnamon into a fine powder (you can actually crumble a quill of it between your fingers), but you won’t be able to grind a stick of cassia unless you use a commercial spice or coffee grinder (you might even struggle to snap a single stick of it in half using both hands). If you’re using ground spices rather than whole, examine the color and scent of your “cinnamon”- Ceylon cinnamon will be a lighter shade of brown, and have a delicate, sweet cinnamon scent; cassia is redder in hue and has a strong, spicy aroma. If you’re using cassia in this–or any other Mexican recipe–I recommend using only half the amount of cinnamon called for. I usually have no trouble tracking down affordably priced canela at my local Asian market (it’s usually in the spice section of the Indian ingredients aisle) or at my corner bodega, where it’s located next to the dried chiles and other spices. You can also order canela online from Amazon, gourmet ingredient sites, and specialty spice purveyors like Penzey’s and The Spice House.

****Many commercial chili powder blends include other spices like cumin, garlic or onion powder, and salt- don’t use these chili powders in this recipe! Don’t get me wrong, these chili powder blends are great for seasoning savory dishes, like chili, beans, and Tex-Mex food, but you don’t want to use them in a dessert (garlic and chocolate? No thanks!).

I recommend using chili powder made from dried chiles only. You’ll want to read your labels to make sure your chili power contains just ground chiles, or you just grind some chiles yourself- a spice or coffee grinder, or even a blender will do the trick . You can even toast your chiles before you grind them for extra flavor- just remember to de-stem the chiles before grinding (you can also de-seed the chiles if you find the seeds make your chili powder too hot or slightly bitter.) As long as you are using pure ground chiles, you can use a blend of peppers to really compliment the flavor of the chocolate you’re using in this recipe- experiment and find out which combinations you like best!

The most common varieties of chiles that I recommend for this recipe and other desserts are:

Dried ancho chiles
Dried ancho chiles

Anchos chiles are dark and smokey, with a deep, rich flavor and mild to medium heat.  Anchos are the dried form of the poblano pepper, the most commonly used pepper in Mexico. The word “ancho” means “wide” in Spanish, and refers to the shape of the dried chiles. Anchos are somewhat sweet and a little reminiscent of raisins, which makes them a good choice for pairing with chocolate. You may also run across ancho mulato (sometimes just sold as mulato peppers). Like anchos, mulatos are made from dried poblano peppers- the difference between the two is that mulatos are made from fully mature poblanos, whereas anchos are made from poblanos that are harvested early. Mulatos taste somewhat like chocolate or licorice, with undertones of cherry and tobacco, making them another great option for this recipe.

Dried Guajillo Chiles
Dried Guajillo Chiles

Guajillo chiles are the dried version of the mirasol pepper, the second most commonly used pepper in Mexico. The word “guajillo” means “little gourd” in Spanish and refers to the rattling sound their seeds make when these peppers are dried whole. Guajillos retain are slightly sweet and mildly spicy, with a subtle complex flavor profile that includes notes of green tea, red berries, and pine nuts.

Dried chipotle chiles
Dried chipotle chiles

Chipotle chiles are actually large, dried jalapeño peppers that have been smoked. The word “chipotle” comes from the Nahuatl word chīlpoctli, meaning “smoked chili”. Chipotles have medium to medium-hot heat that’s sweet and smoky with tobacco and chocolate overtones, making chipotles a good chile to pair with darker chocolates. Chipotles are quite popular in the U.S., so you should have little trouble tracking down a jar of pre-ground chipotle chili powder (just make sure it doesn’t contain any unwanted extra ingredients).

Although not an authentic Mexican ingredient, another option worth considering–if you can find it–is aji panca, a dried red Peruvian pepper with a light and berry-like flavor (some say reminiscent of blueberries). Aji panca is very mild and has almost no heat if de-seeded and de-veined- this is a chile used for its flavor and color, not its heat. Given its lighter flavor, aji panca works better with lighter, fruitier chocolates (like milk chocolate), and makes a good option for people who have trouble handling capsaicin.