So, we have lots of dried peppers, Bhut Jolokias and Trinidad Scorpions, from last season. Always looking for new ways to use peppers. Got a bar of chili chocolate from a cousin in Seattle. Struck us … why don’t we make some Ghost Pepper chocolate? A little Internet searching resulted in some recipes for chocolate bark. That sounded about right. Love dark chocolate. Love hot peppers. The combination was too much to resist!
Couple critical issues needed to be handled: What level of darkness? What else to add to the bark?
Darker chocolate is better, within limits. 70-80% is what we wanted … dark chocolate, not milk chocolate.
The heat of the peppers is moderated by the natural oils in the high percentage chocolate. Heat is also moderated by sugar, but we didn’t want to simply sweeten the chocolate. Dried fruit would add sweetness and also some texture. OK, but what fruit? Chocolate is a tropical plant, dried mango came to mind as a good complement. Needed a little crunch, too. Toasted, hulled pumpkin seeds would fit the bill.
Put this all together with four ingredients: chocolate, dried mango, toasted pumpkin seeds, and powdered chili peppers.
Good enough to start. A little more research on chocolate revealed that we’d need to be sure to temper the chocolate so that it wouldn’t form that white, dusty looking coating over time. Found a great description by David Lebovitz for tempering chocolate. Easy enough to do on the Farm, but effective in keeping the chocolate shinny and dark.
So, we’re ready; here’s the recipe:
- 16 oz 70-80% dark chocolate
- 3 oz dried mango (diced into small bits)
- 1/2 cp unsalted, hulled pumpkin seeds
- 1 tsp ground, dried hot peppers (Bhut Jolokia / Trinidad Scorpion, or others)
Ahead of time prepare your pumpkin seeds, peppers, and dish for holding the melted chocolate.
- Toast the pumpkin seeds in a 350° oven for about 10 min … be careful, they will go from toast to char in a flash
- Put one each dried, whole Bhut Jolokia and Trinidad Scorpion into a coffee grinder and render into a fine powder; remove the stems first; clean the grinder well afterward (unless you like extra bite in your coffee) … this will produce about 1 tsp of dried pepper powder
- Line a Pyrex® dish with parchment paper for receiving the melted chocolate … select the size of the dish to give your bark the desired thickness … a 9″ x 13″ dish will give you bark that is about 1/4″ thick
Now you are ready for the chocolate.
In a double boiler melt the chocolate to 115° and stir until the chocolate is smooth. Take the pot off the water and let the chocolate cool to 80° with frequent stirring. To make the process go a little faster, reserve a bit of solid chocolate, and add it to the melt at 115°. The cooler chocolate will bring the temperature of the melted chocolate down more quickly toward your target of 80°. Also, as Lebovitz instructs, this seeds the melt with, so called, beta crystals, which promote good tempering in the chocolate. Once the temperature has reached 80° put the pot back on the double boiler water and gently raise the temperature to reach and maintain within a narrow range of 88° to 91°. While the chocolate is in this temperature range, fold in the mango, pumpkin seeds, and the ground peppers. Reserve a little of all three to add to the top of the bark in the next step.
When the chocolate and all the ingredients are well blended, transfer the mixture to the parchment lined dish. Before the chocolate has hardened, sprinkle the remaining mango and pumpkin seeds on top. Press these gently into the soft chocolate. Finally, dust the surface of the chocolate with the remaining powdered peppers.
Place the dish in your freezer for at least five minutes, maybe a little longer, until the chocolate has sufficiently set to break into chunks. You can either break into random pieces or score with a knife and break into more or less regular sized pieces.
When the chocolate has completely cooled, place in an air tight container or bag.
Small pieces placed on the tongue and allowed to melt slowly warm your mouth with a pleasant heat and finish with crunch from the pumpkin seeds and sweetness from the mango. The heat and flavor of the peppers is a perfect complement to the chocolate. Savor the moment. Adjust the amount of pepper in the next batch if you want a little more or less heat.
A chef friend of ours thought the heat a little much and suggested that milk chocolate might take the edge off while allowing some heat sensation and flavor to come through. Experiment and tune for your own taste; there is no absolute with this recipe, only pleasure. Enjoy.