The idea of marrying chocolate and chili peppers is not exactly new. The Aztecs and Mayans thought of it a few centuries back, at a time and in a society where cacao, unsweetened, was part of the daily diet. Mexicans have continued this tradition by spicing up both their drinking and solid chocolate. I love this particular marriage, especially in chocolate truffles. Chili peppers work better with dark chocolate, lending a subtle kick and spiciness that linger on the tongue after the chocolate has melted.
Because I am a custard fiend, I also found a way to incorporate chili in my creme brulee. I favour japonais chilis because of their “smokiness” but any other dried chili with do. If you do not want to bother with the brulee part of the custard, you can serve it with just a dollop of slightly sweetened whipped cream.
RECIPE – Yield 8 4 oz portions
3 C Heavy Cream
1 Cinnamon Stick
5 Japonais or other dried chili peppers
1 ts Cayenne Pepper
1/2 C Sugar
6 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (72% is ideal), cut in small chunks
6 Egg Yolks
- Combine cream, cinnamon stick, chilis and sugar in a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat and let steep 20 minutes.
- Place the pot back on the stove, scald the mixture again and add the chocolate, whisking until smooth.
- Strain over a tight colander or strainer. Add cayenne pepper and stir. Taste for spiciness and adjust if necessary.
- Pour into brulee ramekins. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan, pour hot water half way up the sides of the ramekins, cover with foil and bake at 300F until set, about 30 minutes.
- Cool and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
- To brulee, sprinkle a thick layer of sugar over the custard and slide the ramekins under a broiler for a few seconds (or use a blow torch if you own one).