Scavenged Sweetness

Hello again, everyone. I feel like we’ve had a lot of red chilli lately, don’t you?

We’ve seen an impressive array of heats and flavours, this year, don’t get me wrong, but I still think that it’s time for something a bit different. Something that isn’t another red chilli. Or even another sauce.

So, instead, I’d like to bring you another item from Foraged Fire. Because, while we’ve seen the company before, Tim’s products are all completely unique and this Dulce de Leche is no exception:

He could have gone ahead and used generic red chillies for this argentinian-style, caramel spread and it’d’ve still been quite the talking point. But no, this sweet treat uses mexican pasillas and a chinese five spice blend, for something truly multicultural and, honestly, quite baffling.

I have no idea what to expect from the seemingly unrelated influences at play here. Yet, knowing Foraged Fire, I have faith that it’ll all make sense as soon as I get stuck in.

Since I didn’t say much about the packaging last time, though, I’d like to take a brief moment to appreciate the work of his graphic designer first. Because, as plain and white as Foraged Fire’s labels are, there’s a certain sleek, professional charm to them, too.

The text is crisp and clear and his logo – Made up of crossed flowers and flame wisps – looks like something that you’d see pressed into wax or otherwise adorning a bottle of fine wine. Not a mere hot sauce.

Yet, inspect it more closely and you’ll see that it represents Tim’s company perfectly, with one plant stem bearing the fatalii chilli that he loves, while the other is quite clearly an allium flower. And, more specifically, that of the allium ursinum in his amazing “capers”.

Both the fire and the foraging, together in a simple insignia that just oozes class. What could possibly be more fitting? The fact that they’ve colour-matched the name of the product to the contents of the jar is just icing on the cake.

As for what those contents look like, though, here’s a quick pic of my spoonful:

A mound of light, creamy and caramel-coloured goodness that’s oddly rather thicker than I was expecting. I mean, it’s almost as scoopable as ice-cream or a thick gnache, which makes me wonder just how well it’s going to spread.

Less worrying, however, are the specks of red and brown, dotted throughout, which clearly showcase the product’s spice and chilli content. Chilli which is not, in fact, just the stated pasilla but rather an entire molé-style blend. A mix of mild, earthy anchos, raisiny pasillas and the slightly hotter guajillo, for heat.

Together, the blend provide a low and late

burn in the back of my mouth and throat but they also offer so much more, in the form of a lightly fruity, highly earthy undertone that supports Tim’s use of woody spices, like cloves, star anise and two different types of cinnamon. All of which, together, works ever so well to enhance the predominant flavour of his creation.

Yet that flavour isn’t quite what Tim seems to think.

This spread doesn’t taste of vanilla, it tastes of vanilla ice-cream. Of the sort that’s made by the farm, where you can taste the quality of their dairy cream. The sort that isn’t actually vanilla flavour, at all.

Which isn’t to say that this dulce de leche as sweet as that or that it doesn’t also taste of caramel. Just that you can really taste Tim’s jersey milk and that it does dominate a little. At least when the product is at room temperature.

Some people will love that fact – After all, there’s a reason that people are willing to pay extra for that ice-cream – but I, myself, prefer flavoured dairy. That creaminess is not for me.

I still like today’s product, as is, and I can appreciate how remarkably well the green, herbal spice of the star anise and fennel pollen work with those dairy overtones but, personally, I much prefer this item melted. Which is where my one real complaint comes in.

As I’d feared, Tim’s “spread” struggles to live up to the word and, while I can get it evenly over my toast, if I really try, it doesn’t melt when I do. It doesn’t get that delightfully gooey feel to it or the extra caramel-y taste that comes along with.

So, for me, this one’s only really at its best when it’s applied directly to crêpes, still in the pan, like they serve at french street food stalls. Where it interestingly comes across a tad hotter, at the low end of a

Presumably because the melted texture lets the chilli more readily reach the tongue.

In that setting, today’s dulce de leche is utterly delectable but, impressed as I am by Tim’s ingenious spice mix, I actually prefer the Chilli Alchemist’s simpler salted caramel for just about every other application. So, while I do recommend Foraged Fire’s spread, I do so with the caveat that you have to either appreciate that upfront dairy flavour more than I do or be able to cook your own pancakes to really get the most out of it.

And, as for what goes into it, here are its ingredients:

Cream (Milk), Jersey Milk (28%), Golden Castor Sugar, Pasilla Peppers (2%), Ancho Chilli Powder, Aged Guajillo Peppers, Maldon Sea Salt (0.7%), Szechuan Peppercorns, Cassia Bark, Ceylon Cinnamon, Star Anise, Cloves, Wild Fenel Pollen.

and the encyclopedia pages for its three molé peppers.

I’ll see you on saturday, for the recipe of the month.

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