Our story starts in a small Mayan village sometime in the mid-400’s A.D.
In the center of a grass-roofed mud hut stands a middle-aged woman over her comal, a clay disc cooking surface that sits on top of a wood fire. Think a modern day griddle made of earth instead of metal.
She’s cooking corn tortillas and spicy pork for dinner, along with something special for her family — a dessert drink consisting of roasted cacao beans, like a primitive hot chocolate.
While the spicy peppers and pork mingle together on one side of the comal, the cacao is busy cooking up on the other. For a few minutes, she turns her back to prepare something off the fire, and in that time some of the fiery juice runs over to the chocolate beans, infusing them with the same heat as the pork. Unbeknownst to our chef, of course.
After the pork taco dinner is finished, she pulls out the roasted cacao beans that have been ground to a paste and mixes them with cinnamon and fresh milk. She pours the concoction from one large cup to another, back and forth, mixing the drink and making the tell-tale frothiness we all know and love.
With one final slosh, she fills 4 small cups to pass out to her husband and two children. They say a small thankful prayer to the gods for this delicacy and take a sip.
There’s something different about this than the times they’ve had it before. Chocolatey and creamy, yeah. But there’s a growing hint of spice that’s never been.
She looks at her family, and wide-eyed they stare back at her. Once the shock of the spiked drink wears off, they slowly break into a grin and finish their spicy hot chocolate. Congratulations, madam. You’ve just changed the path of spicy cuisine forever.
Now, I don’t know if that story is true. But it seems like the type of concoction that would be a happy accident like that, like White Out or the Slinky.
Sweet and spice are paired together in countless dishes around the world. From gas station candy covered in chili powder to that bowl of firecracker chicken, chefs have been spicing up their sweet (or sweetening up their spicy) foods for hundreds of years.
So it’s still a little surprising when people stare at me like I’m insane when I say a certain spicy sauce would be good over ice cream or brownies or paired with fruit.
Sorta like when you eat something that’s very spicy and you’re told to drink milk because the fat will neutralize and wash away the capsaicin, sugar will bind to the spice and take a little heat, as well as changing the flavor a bit.
Obviously, as a hot sauce connoisseur, I try to find a way to put one of my sauces on anything I eat, and that includes my dessert. If I don’t have something salty or spicy, a lot of times my treats are just too sweet. Ice cream with chocolate syrup is nearly unpalatable to me.
But trade out that chocolate syrup with a drizzle of Chocolate Cherry Hell and put it all on top of a hot brownie? Now you’ve got something mouth-wateringly sweet and spicy.
The name of this one is just about all the description you need. We use chocolate, cherries, plums, vanilla, and a few other sweetening fruits, and blow it all away with a chocolate habanero mash. These peppers are roughly twice the heat of regular habaneros, so you’ll have a healthy dose of hell with your chocolate cherry.
But don’t think this is only good on desserts. Oh no. It goes great as a barbecue glaze on pork, a marinade for chicken wings, even a shooter at the end of a crazy night.
One of our best sellers ever is a sweet heat sauce in the same (though slightly bluer) vein, Blueberry Hell. Again, it’s great on ice cream, pancakes, or my favorite, cheesecake.
It’s made with black and blueberries, plus other fruit and honey, along with a heaping helping of hot and superhot pepper mash, including the Carolina Reaper. Let me tell ya, you’ll find your thrill on this Blueberry Hell.
So with summer here, why not pick up a few bottles of each for your sweet treats? It’ll at least keep your kids from digging into your stash more than once. And you’ll make an old Mayan woman very proud.