The recent dark chocolate themed SHF event got my culinary head brainstorming about new adventurous ways to use chocolate. I posed the question of how to break out of my chocolate box to Sweets and he quickly gave me this answer: Mole. I don’t think he fully realized the magnatude of this challenge! In my mind mole is one of those witch’s caldron foods… a whole lot of mysterious things go in and you get a completely different set of flavors out!
I quitely took in the mole challenge and went sleuthing online to look at recipes, since I don’t have a Latino grandmother. I was excited to find right off the bat, that Dagoba chocolates has a mole recipe on their website that uses their Eclipse 87% chocolate. I printed out the recipe and set Sweets to the local Latino market to buy chiles and tomatillas. Thirty minutes into the trip I get a phone call asking about chile substitutions. It turns out we stumpted our local experts, drats! No chihuacle or mulatto chiles.
Sweets came home quickly and unloaded his bounty from the motorcycle. It was then I began to have my first suspicions about the recipe I had chosen. He had bags and bags and bags of chiles! The recipe called for 1 lb of dried cascabels, and an additional lb of other chiles. It was only at this moment did I realize the volume of one pound of dried chiles. And aren’t the short round cascabels hot? Sweets had fun retelling his adventures in asking the store for chile help. They thought he was from a restaurant (because of his request for a lb of cascabels!), and he was gleaming in white boy cred at getting cool ingredients. He gathered all the best things- 2 lbs of chiles, a tub of fresh lard, tomatillas, and a bonus present for me: a 5 pound bag of fresh masa dough! I think he even impressed the cashiers with this catch.
Going back to the Dagoba recipe I found more “issues”. The list of ingredients didn’t match what was mentioned in the cooking instructions. I quickly emailed Dagoba who apologized and set me a corrected version (which they still haven’t put up on their website). But still that huge pile of chiles sitting on my kitchen table taunted me. Oddly, it didn’t seem to be a typo in the recipe.
I set into the prep of deseeding the chiles when I broke down and chickened out. This Dagoba Mole recipe must be an accident, I thought as I calculated how long simply deseeding 2 pounds of dried chiles would take. Oh wait… I got it: A chocolate competitor, a mole (heh), snuck into the Dagoba company and gave them this bogus mole recipe to kill off their customers. The thoughts in my head won out, and I put the chiles down. Sure, you can be killed by chiles.
A week goes by, my pile of chiles taunting me the whole time, and I notice a call for prune entries on David Lebovitz’s website. I could work the mole into this! If I found a recipe that didn’t want to kill me that is. Fortunately I found one at epicurious’s website that sounded really similar to the Dagoba recipe, except that it called for way less chiles (18 rather than 2 lbs), less chocolate (6 oz rather than one lb) but the same amount of spices.
I substituted prunes instead of the called for raisins, and used a pressure cooker and way less stock and no thickeners. I can practically hear the grandmothers turning in their graves at this silly girl who makes mole in less than a night. The original recipes suggest a timeline of several days to account for ingredient aquiring and prep. Because we had all the ingredients on hand, I was able to make this sauce all in one night, and let it age for a day before eating it.
The result is dark, slightly spicy, chocolately, nutty, roasted and sweet! As we speak, I am baking up a pan of mole based Chilaqueas made with the fresh masa dough.
Now what to do with all those leftover chiles?
the Mole that Almost Won
adapted from PUEBLA-STYLE FIESTA TURKEY IN MOLE SAUCE , found at epicurious
Remove the seeds, membranes and stems from:
- 6 dried cascabels
- 6 dried pasilla chiles
- 5 dried ancho chile
If you wear contacts, like to pick your nose, or are around babies and other small dependent things, wear gloves for this process (unless you like that numbing chile oil tingle, you kinky person you).
Tear the chiles into pieces and quickly fry in 1/2 cup of hot lard. Fry the chiles briefly, only enough to blister the skin (20-30 seconds). Strain each batch into a pressure cooker and cover the chiles with enough stock to cover. Cook in the pressure cooker for 15-20 minutes until the chiles are soft. Pour the stock and chiles into a blender and puree until smooth. Add enough stock to bring the volume to 4 cups. Strain this chile puree discarding the chile strands left behind.
In another large pan (not the pressure cooker) with 1/2 cup of hot smoking lard, cook the chile puree until thick and leaves a pan revealing trail when a spoon is dragged through. Remove from the heat to wait for the additonal ingredients.
Either in an oven or in a dry skillet separately toast till golden:
- 1/2 cup whole almonds
- 1/4 cup pecans (or walnuts)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted roasted peanuts (or peanut butter)
- 1/4 cup shelled pepitas
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
Set aside and allow to cool.
In the pressure cooker saute over medium heat til the onions are translucent:
- one large onion, chopped
- 1/2 pound of tomatillas, husked, rinsed and roughly chopped
Add to the onions and tomatillas:
- 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
- one 28 oz can of roasted tomatos
- 3/4 cup of chopped and pitted prunes
- one cup of stock
Lid up and cook in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes. When done, allow to cool slightly, and process in a blender with the toasted seeds and nuts that have been cooling. Add the pureed nut-tomato mixture to the chile mixture and bring to a gentle simmer.
In a dry skillet, toast separately:
- 5 whole cloves (or 1/2 tsp ground)
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 5 whole allspice berries (or 1/2 tsp ground)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Grind the cooled whole spices in a coffee grinder, and add to the simmering mixture. Also add:
- 1/2 teaspoon aniseed
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup of piloncillo or brown sugar
Stir and simmer for 1/2 hour or more to allow the flavors to develop.
If your sauce is rather thick and paste like, thin out with the additon of stock.
If your sauce is too thin, thicken by blending with tortilla chips (a handful at a time) or stale bread (a slice at a time).