Hey folks, remember how I just randomly mentioned Queen Majesty again, last week? For the first time in ages?
Well, believe it or not, it was entirely coincidental and today’s feature was an extremely last minute find. But I do have another of their sauces to show you and this one, in particular, is one that I’ve been waiting a long time for. Ever since the reveal of Hot Ones‘ season seventeen line-up.
The number six of that era, Queen Majesty’s Cocoa Ghost. Which stood out, to me, from the moment I first saw it, as something truly unique.
Of course, combining ghost pepper with chocolate isn’t that original of an idea. I’ve had many a ghost pepper chocolate bar in my time and several chocolate–based sauces. But nothing that’s truly combined an earthy, dark cocoa flavour with the deep, red chilli taste that I get from the ghost.
There’s potential there for something just as indulgent, without any of the sweetness. A savoury blend which truly highlights its peppers, like the Red Habanero & Black Coffee before it, yet also brings an amazing richness from the cocoa. Creating what just might be the perfect con carne sauce!
That’s what I’m hoping to get out of today’s product and I honestly believe that Queen Majesty have the skills to pull it off. But have they done so?
I fill my customary spoonful and attempt to find out:
The pour is quick and thin, with most of this sauce’s powdered ingredients preferring to stick to the bottle neck, rather than making it into my mouth. And the aroma is as deep and dark as I’d expected, yet also strangely acidic. Heavy on the vinegar, pineapple juice and onions.
When it hits my tongue, that sharpness is only amplified even further by a low
sting, building quickly in the middle of my mouth but never quite reaching the five that I’ve come to expect from the ghost pepper. Even if it does come pretty close.
Honestly, though, that slightly lower heat isn’t much of an issue. It’s not what this sauce is about, nor what the ghost pepper’s in it for, so a little bit less than a pure ghost sauce is to be expected.
No, where the chilli actually disappoints me is in its flavour. Or, rather, the lack thereof.
But there’s no discernible taste of ghost, between the two, unless it’s slightly under-ripe and providing that subtle hint of plant. That green note which offset the deep, red chilli base of the Red Habanero & Black Coffee but struggles to do the same for today’s sauce.
Because, quite simply, there is no red chilli for it to work with. And that spice blend? It’s playing second fiddle to the brighter, tangier and far sharper hit of pineapple, vinegar and onion, which dominates the so called Cocoa Ghost.
A sauce which is, ultimately, ghost only in heat and cocoa only in its aftertaste. A clear chocolate flavour creeping in, as the spices fade, but not the one that you might expect.
You see, Queen Majesty use what they call “black cocoa”. A type of processed cocoa powder, also referred to as “alkalised” or “dutch”. One that’s been treated to remove all of the pod’s natural acidity and, in doing so, changed flavour quite considerably. Now far more akin to the taste of Oreos than any standard UK chocolate.
I like that darker, earthier, more coffee-esque quality and, in the right setting, I could really see it working well. But it’s not what I wanted from a sauce named “Cocoa Ghost” and, even if it were, it’s far from the main flavour. So all it does is leave me craving biscuits.
Frankly, this sauce has been a disappointment all ’round. Not because it’s bad, per se – I’m sure that there’s a home for its unique blend of sharp, mildly citrussy vinegar and dark spices – but because it’s none of what its name implies and nothing in its (admittedly quite beautiful) label hints at what’s really going on inside.
The pearlised white paper is pretty, yet meaningless and its black and white tiger hints at the product’s darker side but nothing more. While I’m not even honestly sure what the leaves that border this label are.
Queen Majesty have used:
White vinegar, pineapple juice, sweet onions, habanero peppers, ghost peppers, ginger root, garlic, pineapple, dried plums, pasilla negro, chipotle, black cocoa, extra virgin olive oil, salt & spices.
to make it and I definitely feel like the pineapple and onion were a mistake. An attempt to balance out the sauce’s darker flavours that went too far and eclipsed them.
Perhaps some of you will appreciate today’s sauce, as is, but, for me, this simply isn’t what I was looking for and what it is doesn’t do enough to make up for that.