Posted February 11, 2007 by GoonieNick in Reviews

Review: Hot Chocolate – A Fine Habanero Sauce

Review: Hot Chocolate: A Fine Habanero Sauce

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Initial Thoughts: I remember not too long ago I learned about the Congo Habanero, also known as the Chocolate Habanero. I gained interest to learn more about this pepper as a result of a forum where inquiries were being made as to the hottest chili peppers in existence. There were arguments being made that the Red Savina made it into the guiness book of world records, having a 577,000 SKU rating, due to the testing crop having received super optimal growing conditions. Arguments were being raised that there were a few species of habaneros that were just as hot as the Red Savina. The main argument was the Orange Yucatan, Fatalli, Red Scotch Bonnet, and Chocolate Habanero were all just as hot as the Red Savina.

The hottest topic of late has been that of the Bhut Jolokia (Naga Morich) which has been tested several times and the results are coming back indicating that the Red Savina is no longer the hottest chili pepper in the world. Bhut Jolokia’s seem to be averaging around 1 Million SKU when being tested. The Red Savina has been retested under normal growing condtions with SKU ratings of around 250-350k making it just as hot as the Fatalli, Congo Habanero, Red Scotch Bonnet, and Orange Habanero.

I have had many Red Savina sauces, Scotch Bonnet sauces, and have recently had CaJohns Orange Habanero Select Puree as well as his Fatalli Select Puree. Personally I feel that so far the results are true in that there is no real difference in heat amongst the Red Savina, Orange Habanero, Red Scotch Bonnet, and Fatalli. I wanted to try a Congo Habanero Hot Sauce to see how this pepper fits in the rankings.

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Based on the Habanero Chili Database: “The notorious & viciously hot Chocolate Habañero ranks among the deadly few at the top of the heat scale registering upto 450,000 scoville heat units. Indeed the Chile Pepper Institute of New Mexico State University reported that the Chocolate Habanero Chile was the hottest chile pepper they had tested. Also known as the ‘Congo black’ the fruits have a unique, rich flavor unduplicated by any other pepper. The 2″ fruits ripen from an emerald green to a gorgeous, chocolate brown approximately 100 days after transplanting. The ultimate salsa pepper used to make the famous Jamaican Jerk Sauce. The variety is a must for heat lovers.”

Searching for a Chocolate Habanero sauce was not the easiest of tasks. CaJohn’s Black Mamba does have Chocolate Habs but is loaded with extract. I wanted to have a more accurate gauge to see where the Chocolate Hab. ranks amongst the big boys. I wanted to use a non-extract. type of sauce. I finally did a search with a great hot search engine that Nick L. had provided me with! (Thanks Nick! 🙂 ) I was able to find a sauce titled, Hot Chocolate, which is made by Ocean Winds. I found one on ebay and decided to order it.

My initial thoughts were pretty vague. I never really knew what to expect from this sauce. I was thinking that it would be hot as some of the other habanero sauces I have had before. It was hard for me to get a sense for how this sauce would taste because I have never had a pepper that was brown before. I was wondering if the sauce did have any resemblance to “Hot Chocolate” besides the name and the color. Could it really taste sweet, like chocolate, etc? If so what would I use this sauce on? I really want to go to Starbucks right now! My last experience there wasn’t so good. I remember dating a girl that was allergic to milk and one time I had a hot chocolate and then she called later on that evening and said that by kissing me she got sick from the hot chocolate I had. Well I hope this is not the case with this sauce!

Ingredients:Chocolate Habanero Peppers, Vinegar, Water, Onion, Garlic, Salt, Almond Extract, Black Pepper, Xanthan Gum

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Visual: Hot Chocolate comes in a 5 oz. normal bottle. The label can really fool a naive individual. This is because it looks as gourmet as gourmet can be. The label says “Hot Chocolate: A Fine Habanero Sauce”. Below this title is a caption that states “For the Pepper Afficionado”. The label is a chocolate brown color and the text and trim is done in a flashy light golden color. The label reminds me of Willy Wonka and the golden ticket that is needed to get into his palace of goodies! (BTW, has anyone seen slugworth?, lol) This bottle really can give someone the impression that it is a dessert sauce! Looking inside the bottle all you can see is basically a light brown chocolate colored liquid. There is some small pulp floating around but you almost have to use a magnifying glass to observe it. The consistency is slightly thicker than a creamy hot chocolate from your local caffe.

Aroma: I give a choclate shake and opened the cap and was very suprised by the smell! It was definitely an eye opener to me! It didn’t smell like any of the other Habanero sauces I have had before. A distinctive odor definitely hit me, much more pronounced than some of the other Habanero Sauces that I have tried in the past. It doesn’t smell as fruity as some of the others but it is much more rich. There was almost some sweet chocolate like odor to it! I think this is due to the Almond Extract. Well if you don’t know that much about extracts I can tell you that they are strongly scented. Even though it is listed as the 7th ingredient, a little can go a long way! If you don’t believe me try some vanilla extract for yourself! This actually makes me wonder now if there are any hot sauces out there that have a vanilla extract to it! Arrrrghh, it seems that Hot Chocolate has raised me to yet a new search! Anytime a hot sauce can give you ideas, I am almost going to guarantee you that you will enjoy it.

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Application: I decided to put this on some brown rice and smoked ribs. My reasoning was that this was a sauce that I wanted to use on something rich and hearty. I felt that the brown rice and flavor of the ribs from the pork juice would go along with this sauce. As I said in my last review, sometimes I am able to judge by color alone as to how I want to match up my dishes with their respective sauce. This seems to be a good rule of thumb, at least for me lately. I could have used Asbirin Extra Strength for this meal but it didn’t seem like the sauce to be used on a very darkly colored steamed dish! I like my ribs and rice to be really hot and have a smokey flavor to it so I thought why not try Hot Chocolate.

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After eating a few of the ribs and rice I was very pleased! The sauce did have this flavor to it that was different that the other habanero sauces I have tried. The flavor was more smokey than the Scotch Bonnet, Red Savina, Fatalli, and Orange Habanero but yet the heat was there but it wasn’t pronounced when eating the meal. How weird is this? After I swallowed the food and waited a minute or two the heat did appear. I would say I felt the heat was slightly less than the other ones but please remember the others I am comparing it to are basically as puree as you can get. This isn’t a real puree sauce. When I went back to eat more the flavor was there. I was able to tell that it added flavor to the ribs and the rice soaked in pork juice but it didn’t interfere with the flavor or take away from the flavor of the food. It actually blended quite well enhancing the flavor of the ribs and rice. Howver, it didn’t taste like your normal smokey hot sauce such as a BBQ sauce or a hot sauce with rich color such as Acid Rain or Alberta Crude.

Final Thoughts: This sauce is somewhat of a novelty. I mean that in every sense of the word. Everything from the label to the aroma and to the taste will be probably be new to you. It is a fairly decent tasting sauce with a good amount of heat. Much more experimentation is going to be needed on this sauce. I am going to have to try this on some chicken dishes and tacos. I think honestly it is to be used for mainly smokey flavored dishes. I can’t imagine this on a standard pizza. I think that this could probably even be used as a BBQ sauce offshoot. Cooking with this sauce will lead to many new adventures. Remember in the description of the pepper they said it was great for Jamaican Jerk sauces so the flavor may be enhanced even great with physical heat being added to it. Overall it is definitely worth trying and having in your collection. I am glad I purchased Hot Chocolate.

Packaging 10/10
Aroma 8/10
Taste 7/10
Appearance 8/10
Heat 8.5/10

Overall 8