Hello again, everyone, and welcome back to the last tuesday of march. The perfect time for a quite unusual pair.
Today we have two very different sauces, with very different heats and flavours, but one particularly appropriate ingredient in common: Chocolate.
It is coming up to easter, after all, so why not start the celebrations early with Ignis’ CNC9 and Haskhell’s Chipotle?
Ignis we’ve seen before and, aside from the new number and letters, its labelling is no different to their JGA7. So I’ve got nothing special to say about that bottle.
Haskhell’s, however, is new to the party, with an unusually small sticker that doesn’t wrap around the whole thing.
I like that. It shows confidence in the sauce, itself, since it frees up more clear glass to highlight its colour. And, while I don’t know about the pure white background, the replica barrel-labelling adds a sense of sophistication and tradition that might otherwise seem lacking from a company displaying such a recent start date.
Plus, while the actual art, between the banners, says nothing about this specific sauce, its crossed-cayennes and blue, bonnet-like, central pepper definitely provides a strong sense of personality. Both combining with the banners for slight hints of piracy and, apparently, reflecting the colours of the maker’s favourite football team.
It looks good and it’s clear that a lot of love has gone into it, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Haskell’s using the exact same design in half a decade’s time. But what I would love to see him invest in, in the future, is a sticker cutter.
One which lets him remove all of that dead space and leave only a fine outline of the white, in order to separate the brown of his logo banners from that of the sauce and keep them visible. That way, he could scale the whole design up without hiding any of the bottle’s contents, and make the product’s “Chipotle” name so much clearer.
I do understand, however, that such machines are quite costly, for what they do. So I can’t pretend to know how practical such a change would be, from a business standpoint. All that I’m actually qualified to judge are the heat, aroma and flavour.
So let’s have a look at today’s spoons:
Both are a deep and delicious-looking shade of reddy-brown but that’s where their similarities end.
Haskhell’s chipotle sauce is a watery-thin liquid, with a subtle, toasted scent to it and a whole bunch of little spice and pepper shreds. Whereas the CNC9, from Ignis, is a perfectly smooth, thick paste with the glossiness of a cocoa butter-based beauty product. And its aroma is rich, yet decidedly savoury. With strong, slightly cloying, vegetable overtones that remind me of olive oil.
What I’m actually smelling, though, are the chillies. The rich, vegetably, chocolate nagas from which the Chocolate Naga Chocolate (or CNC) 9 gets its name, as well as the dried and toasted anchos that support Haskhell’s chipotle.
Both products are very pepper forward, on the nose, but it’s immediately clear which one is getting the most out of their shared cocoa. And that’s where I’m going to start my taste testing.
The real chocolate in Ignis’ CNC9 adds neither sweetness nor bitterness and only really makes itself known in the sauce’s ultra-smooth mouth feel. Which, eating straight from the spoon, like I’m doing right now, is both a blessing and a curse.
It lets me feel the incredibly fine grains of the fermented brown chilli, spreading over each and every one of my taste-buds like silk, but, as it does so, I know that that very same texture is also slowly depositing that chilli into all of the accompanying pain receptors. That, several seconds after the first impact, there’s going to be very little of my tongue and throat free from its deep, throbbing
Yet, despite that, the roof of my mouth remains all but untouched and I have plenty of time, while that spread is taking place, to take in the oh so earthy flavour. One that’s as olive-like as its initial scent but packs a far more obvious chocolate-coloured chilli base. Helped along, of course, by the subtler earthiness of the actual bolivian chocolate.
There are figs in here, too – And black garlic and onions – but you’re not going to notice them. Because this sauce is completely focussed on using great quality chocolate to highlight its signature, unusually-coloured ghost peppers and bringing their flavour to the fore. So expect a gorgeous texture and the full complexity of the savoury, “chocolate” naga but don’t expect anything else.
Perfect, if you ask me, for amping up a mexican molé or con carne, pairing with gamier meats or adding that authentic olive oil flavour to mediterranean meals. Though a lot of its silken smoothness will be buried by the dish, I’m afraid.
As for Haskhell’s sauce, it’s actually far less chilli-forward on the tongue than on the nose. The toasted anchos are still there, combined with de arbols and a gentle smoke, from the chipotle, but none of those are the product’s main flavour.
No, while it might be named “chipotle”, this a cooked orange sauce, first and foremost. With a heavy hint of cocoa and some strong, mexican spices.
It’s not the flavour that I was expecting, in the slightest, but the chocolate, the cloves and all of that toastiness pair so wonderfully well with the base fruit that I really can’t complain. It’s so much better and more unique than I ever could have imagined.
With its sweetened cumin undertones, it’ll be just as great a fit for molés and con carnes as today’s other item but it’ll also work its way over my enchiladas, all kinds of meat and poultry and even into my brownies. Following a similar recipe to my recent Black Death creation, yet with a far different result.
I see this one as the more versatile of today’s pair and, at a mere
tingle, it’s also the more accessible. Yet Ignis’ sauce should still hold plenty of appeal for folks who want to experience everything that a unique superhot has to offer.
And, while I really wasn’t expecting it, that milder blend still manages to get a physical reaction out of me. Because, while it isn’t anywhere near as strong as the CNC9, combining with the cloves’ own tingle has given it a unique, upper back of the throat heat that catches the base of my nasal passage. So dousing my food in it might not make me sweat or hiccup but it sure does make me sneeze, if I use too much.
Here’s the full list of ingredients for Haskhell’s Chipotle:
Water, Orange juice, Cider vinegar, Chipotle, Ancho chillies, Chile de arbol, Garlic, Sea salt, Agave, Cocoa powder, Cayenne powder, Cumin, Cloves
And here’s what went into Ignis’ Chocolate Naga & Chocolate 9:
Chocolate naga peppers, White Wine Vinegar, Figs, Single Origin Bolivian Chocolate, Red Onion, Sugar, Salt, Black Garlic.
Both warrant my recommendation but, if I had to pick just one, Haskhell’s sauce is definitely my favourite.