I am firmly in the beet lover camp: a well grown garden beetroot tastes of clean sweet earth. And that’s a good taste, intense, earthy, crunchy when raw, silky when cooked, deep garnet. But I know that the beet is as fervently disliked as it […]
This recipe first appeared in the Virginia Wine Gazette.
Peppers (aka chiles) and chocolate are products of the Americas – unknown in Europe until the Spanish conquistadors brought them home in the 16th century. Can you imagine Belgium or Switzerland without chocolate? Calabrian or Greek cuisines without hot peppers?
Cocoa was an expensive beverage – and an acquired taste, too, since it was served without sugar or milk, both unknown in Mesoamerica, but with hot chilies and vanilla, both Mesoamerican native spices. Expensive, bitter and spicy, it’s no wonder cocoa was considered a medication.
Yet, once the Europeans added sugar and milk, hot cocoa, as we know it today, took off. Starting in the 18th century, various processes were developed to form chocolate bars and candies. The modern eating chocolate bar was born in the mid-19th century.
As other tropical areas of the world started to grow the cocoa tree for its seeds, the cocoa bean, which is dried and fermented, chocolate’s popularity was sealed.
Chiles and cocoa work great together indeed: a number of chocolatiers are teasing our taste buds by adding the spice to their gorgeous chocolate confections. You can do it at home too! Add unsweetened cocoa to your favorite chili recipe. Throw a pinch of hot ground chile in chocolate desserts.
I make no claim for their health benefits nor for their possible aphrodisiac qualities, but I can assure you that chocolate and chiles, alone or together, are wonderful winter fare – in fact wonderful fare any time of the year.
Below is a variation of what I called 3-2-1 custard: the Spicy Chocolate Custard. 3 eggs/2 cups milk/ 1 cup chocolate chips: those are easy proportions to remember, negating the need for printed recipe if you need to whip a dessert quickly. You may tweak the spices and flavoring endlessly for subtle differences. (more…)