Foodbuzz has a Tastemaker Program, which occassionally offers ingredients or products to featured publishers, to sample and enjoy. Recently, Foodbuzz offered us the chance to try a sampling of Cowgirl Chocolates, and Christey and I couldn't exactly turn down samples of handmade chocolate.
Cowgirl is out of Idaho, and hand crafts chocolate truffles and other sweets using natural ingredients. One of their special ingredients is chili peppers, usually habanero or cayenne.
Peppers? With chocolate? Well, it's not that big of a stretch. Chocolate in Latin America is often used in savory ingredients, from mole to tortillas, often used with picante ingredients. It's an interesting idea to reverse the concept, to try to use spicy chilis in a sweet candy.
The 1/4 pound sampler pack included chocolate truffles in spicy and mild, with a variety of common chocolate ingredients -- raspberry, hazelnut, coffee. A few other variations were included, such as a habanero caramel, and a white chocolate orange truffle. The spiciness was remarkably controlled. The dark chocolate raspberry, for example, was fruity and creamy with quite the experience of chocolate, and just as the fruit faded from the palate, a spicy kick woke everything up again. The hazelnut milk chocolate truffle was as flavorful as a dessert coffee beverage, with the spice kicking in again just as the flavors started to melt away.
The spice itself is not overwhelming -- the habanero caramel was probably the spiciest candy out of the bunch, but it's not an eye-watering, water-grabbing experience. The chili is more of a pleasant surprise. Just when one thinks of moving on to the next flavor, there's a sudden "Oh my!" The mild chocolates have barely a hint of chili, and even the mildest palates will be spared.