What sort of chile to put in chocolate?
- blkery Feb 2, 2010 07:57 AM
I'm a big fan of Mark Bittman's mexican chocolate tofu pudding (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/20/din...), but putting generic chili powder in the mix seems a bit wrong to me. I'd like to do something a bit more focused, delicate, and traditional.
The problem is, I don't know what that would be. I love chile in chocolate, but am not sure what sort of blends I've tasted before. I have some arbol and guajillo on hand. Can I grind up these or other dried peppers in my spice grinder and replace the chili powder with them?
You can buy a dried chili pepper and grind it. Just select for the level of heat you want, or smokiness (ancho, chipotle, frex).
I no longer buy chili seasoning mixes; I grind my own peppers and add other seasonings to taste. I use a cheap coffee grinder with a metal blade (the type that should never be used to grind coffee, it's great for spices).
I'd make three kinds if possible. one with guajillo, one with arbol, and one with both.
My initial thought for chile in chocolate is always ancho. It works well for multiple taste buds (i.e. those who can't handle too much heat - but it does have a nice little warmth to it.) If I wan't to pack a punch, I'll look to a blend of chiles including pequin, arbol, and ancho for layering the heat.
You can use just about any kind of chili peppers with chocolate depending on the flavor and heat level you want. Gujillo will probably be better than arbol because they hjave a richer flavor. Make sure you toast dried chili's in a hot dry skillet before grinding for a richer flavor. Other good options are chipotles, piquin, habanero, and probably the most used with chocolate is ancho (also the most widely availble in powder form). You can also use chili oils if you want a fresher as opposed to smokier flavor. You can buy chili oils or ifuse your own with fresh chilis of any variety.
If there's any milk or cream in your recipe, that's a good medium for introducing a subtle chile flavor.
I steep dried chiles in cream (ancho for subtle chili flavor or anaheim for heat) in cream until I get the flavor I want, and then make ganache with the cream for chocolate truffles.
If you like the arbol and/orguajillo, I'd use them, but otherwise, I'd agree with others here who've suggested the ancho (a dried poblano). They are relatively mild (if you've ever eaten chili relleno, the poblano is the pepper most often used). A step up in heat would be to go with the dried New Mexico (or arbol).
I'd refer you to The Cook's Thesaurus. Here is the link to the "dried chili" page. Enter "fresh chilis" in the search box to view those. It will give you heat indicators, flavor qualities and chili substitutes in the (likely) event you won't find exactly what you want at your grocery/spice store.
Edit: If you have the availability of buying freshly ground peppers from a local source, I would suggest taking that route. You could then taste the ground version to assess its quality prior to purchase. Depending on where they're grown (soil, rainfall and temps), store bought, like-variety *whole* peppers VERY often vary in heat and flavor complexities and can ruin the outcome of much anticipated dish. It's for this lack of consistency that chili cooks seldom grind their own chili in competitive cook-offs. Just FWIW.
Like some of the previous commenters, my first thought was Ancho -- in fact, I imagined Bobby Flay on one of his first Food Network cooking shows (with that adorable co-host of his -- what was that show called?), describing ancho chiles as tasting like a "spicy raisin." They have such a nice earthy fruitiness that I think goes perfectly with chocolate.
Good luck! :)