The Ingredient Your Chocolate Chip Cookies Are Missing

Eleven years ago, La Rifa Chocolatería in Mexico City introduced a dizzyingly dark, dense chocolate and cream tamal to its menu. Run through with the sultry flavors of caramel, butterscotch and molasses, the dish would quickly become one of its most popular to date.

Of its carefully collected local ingredients (blue corn masa from Cal y Maíz, nata from Lácteos la Ordeña and Mexican-grown cacao toasted and ground in-house), the tamal’s most remarkable element may be piloncillo, an unrefined whole-cane sugar.

Recipe: Piloncillo Chocolate Chip Cookie

“The caramel flavors in the piloncillo balance the acidity of our chocolates,” said Mónica Lozano, a founding partner of La Rifa, which gets its piloncillo from sustainable sugar-cane farms in the eastern part of Mexico.

You can still taste the grassy honeysuckle and anise flavors of the sugar cane in the piloncillo because it’s made by hand and without industrial processing, she said, adding that they prefer it to regular sugar.

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