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The Seduction: Chocolate and Chile
A few years ago, I attended a charity event in Albuquerque called the Mayan Mystic Charity. My son, who lives in Albuquerque, had just broken up with a significant other, and at the suggestion of a friend, he asked me, his mother, to attend the event as his date… what a sweet boy!
It was at this event that I first tasted chile and chocolate and have loved it ever since. The sweetness and smoothness of the chocolate slide down your throat; followed by a faint sensation in the back of your throat is delightfully tempting.
The chocolate-chiles combination was used by the early Aztecs as evidenced by the excavation of storage containers containing cacao pods and chiles. Chiles and cacao pods were also used as tribute to Montezuma, king of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City). The great Montezuma loved his cup of hot cocoa flavored with vanilla, honey and spiked with a good dose of red chile. The Conquistadors took the habit back, brought it across the pond and, of course, the rest is confectionery and gastronomic history.
The story of how chocolate was added to the delicious chile sauce involves nuns. Mole poblano was apparently invented in the 1500s by nuns in the convent of Santa Rosa in the city of Puebla. Apparently the archbishop was coming to visit and the men were worried because they didn’t have enough food to serve someone so important. While they were all praying for guidance, one nun saw a vision. He told everyone to start cutting and grinding everything they could find in the kitchen. In the pot went dried chiles, fresh chiles, tomatoes, various nuts, sugar, tortillas, onions, bananas, dried fruits and raisins, garlic and many herbs and spices. The last and most important thing was fun: chocolate. Then the nuns killed their only chicken and gave it to the archbishop, along with mole sauce, which he promised was the best meal he had ever eaten!
About a decade ago the chocolate-chile combination seemed to be rediscovered by chefs when they realized how beautifully the combination worked. Who knows, maybe he tasted a mole and thought that chiles could work in a variety of chocolates, sweet and savory. Even now, many chocolatiers are now making “Aztec” chocolate, flavored with the “new world” flavors of chile and cinnamon.
I recently gave the following dessert to a group of friends. I did not tell them what the salt was; however they consider it to be chocolate mousse. What he didn’t realize, until the first bite, was the addition of chile powder. At the same time he recognized and described the salt in such wonderful words… classy, silky, smooth, but with a slight kick of spiciness, a light but bright tone, lingers in the back of the mouth. The next morning they all called and asked for recipes! So now, I give it to you to try your friends.
As a footnote, when I was removing all the ingredients I used in the mousse recipe, I put a box of cocoa powder on the top shelf of my cabinet. Unfortunately, I didn’t reach for it on the shelf and it fell, hitting me on the head, dislodging what was on my face, my glasses, my shirt and my jeans. It also spat out its contents on the counter, stove and floor. It took me several hours to remove the dirt; leaving my cleaning to continue. However, my husband helped me and pulled me out of the fire!
Red Chile Spiked Chocolate Mousse
8 servings, about 1/2 cup each
The idea of chile and chocolate still surprises many people, but the two pair beautifully in many chocolate dishes.
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
4 spoons of water, divided
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons mild to medium fresh Mexican red chile powder
1 tablespoon of espresso powder
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup skim milk
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (see baking tip below)
1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
8 tablespoons dried egg whites (see Notes), reconstituted according to package directions (equivalent to 4 egg whites)
1/2 cup full brown sugar
Sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl; put aside.
Combine the cocoa, powdered sugar, chile powder, espresso powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the egg, then the milk. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the steam starts to thicken, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the soft gelatin, chocolate and vanilla. Stir until the chocolate is melted and completely combined.
Beat the egg whites, brown sugar and cream of tartar in the medium bowl of an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Whisk a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until smooth. Fold in remaining egg whites until combined. Mix the mousse in 8 salt glasses or cups.
Boil the mousse until set, at least 2 hours. Topped with whipped cream and coffee beans with chocolate..
Pasteurized egg whites are a wise choice in recipes that call for raw egg whites. Look for a brand like Just Whites in the baking or natural foods section of most grocery stores.
Cooking Tips: If you have a block or enough chocolate, rubbing it on a box grater will make the chocolate melt faster while you are baking.
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#Seduction #Chocolate #Chile