There exists in the world of chile peppers a myriad of color options, one of which is named ‘chocolate’, typically indicating a rather dark chile pepper, of a deep drown color, with hints of a reddish-purple to it. These versions of a chile often indicate the upper heat range of that chile, and so when you first see the word “chocolate” on a bottle of hot sauce, you amp your mind up to prepare for what will likely be a thoroughly hot experience. You do a few extra things, such as making sure you’ve had something to eat ahead of time, and consciously preparing your tongue for the incendiary destruction that is to come. Then after getting yourself all pumped up, you go read the manufacturer’s website in preparation for the post and learn that you’ve prepared for an inferno-filled gauntlet experience, only to find that you’re going to be tasting a dessert hot sauce recommended for such mildly heated tasks as putting it in your milkshake and being hailed as the perfect complement for fruits, such as dipping strawberries in the sauce. Imagine yourself going through that same scenario, and evaluate how you would feel, and this is your first clue that you might be a chilehead. Now that you’ve had the chance to experience that roller coaster of expectations with me, let’s put this thing to the test.
This stuff is made from Assorted Chile Peppers, Coffee, Vinegar, Sugar, Spices and Water. What I’m not seeing anywhere on here is the chocolate component. I suppose cocoa powder could be lumped in with the ‘Spices’ category, or perhaps there’s something to the way the coffee is handled that makes it have cocoa like flavors, similar to the way some stout beers can have a coffee like flavor that for some reason has hints of chocolate to them. The other last possibility is that maybe they did use something like a chocolate habanero in this and all of this looking for cocoa in it is nothing more than a diversionary tactic before I burn my face off.
You can’t miss it on the color here, it looks like a bottle full of darker chocolate milk, the type that has double the chocolate factor added in. When you take the bottle and pass it under your nose, it sure smells a whole lot like the light bitterness of a good dark cocoa, and a touch of sweet from the sugar, so up to this point, it’s feeling like this just might be me drinking a melted chocolate sauce, because there is pretty much no indicator from its aroma that I should be feeling any heat from a chile pepper or even tasting one. The texture on this is moderately thin, fully blended smooth, so there’s no chunks, and would pour easily, but is thick enough that it’s easy enough to control.
All right, here it is, the time where we figure out if this thing is a sleeper sauce, hiding silently as a dessert sauce, only to sneak up and hurt me. All the indications so far are that I’m about to sip on a fancy bottle of liquid hot cocoa mix, so we’ll see. There is a quick bitter bite from what legitimately tastes like semisweet cocoa, and then shortly after it surprises you with a quick hit of some heat that sticks around for about 20-30 seconds and then slowly rolls away, peaking out in the Mild area. The chocolate-like flavors linger throughout, and I can sort of taste the coffee portion of it, but it still does taste much more like chocolate. The only thing I notice some is that there is a very light grainy texture to it in the mouth, most likely from the use of a variety of chile powders (and maybe the secretly elusive cocoa powder). I can see where they are going here with saying that it would work well in milk shakes, as the addition of the creamy element of dairy fats would completely offset the texture comment I just made, and really make this stand out more than on its own, so using it in combination with dairy in any way really helps it stand out, such as on ice cream or, hell, just stir some in with a glass of milk and see what it’s like. While it doesn’t have quite the complexity and awesomeness of traditionally-made spicy chocolates and toffees, it’s likely the best example of that flavor type that is ready to go from a bottle. I have to say, I really like this idea and think the flavor is quite Nice, and I’m looking forward to some home chef style experimenting with some desserts using this sauce to put a light punch of heat in them.