I think you're referring to the so-called "shell of the cacao" atole which has, in fact, none of this ingredient, but derives its black color and cacao-like flavor from toasted cornsilks mixed with an unrefined sugar called "piloncillo." http://www.mexconnect.com/...secturpurepecha.html
I've always maintained that some foods simply are not meant to be prepared at home, which is a good enough reason to venture out where the foods are prepared at the hands of experts. And for atole, there is an Atole Fair held each year, I think the Sunday preceding Palm Sunday, in San Francisco Tarecuato, Michoacan, where the townsfolk prepare an astounding variety of atoles in centuries-old tradition.
(This post was edited by jennifer rose on Dec 20, 2002, 7:06 AM)