Chocolate and Spice and Everything Nice
These days, chiles and chocolate mingle freely in the streets of Brooklyn without provoking a second glance. However, Anita Jacobs, director of Public Programs at BBG, remembers that when she first suggested adding a chile-chocolate sidebar to BBG's annual Chile Pepper Fiesta, some staff unfamiliar with the combo responded with "Weird!" Three years later, "chipotle" and "mole" are essential vocabulary, a chile-chocolate craze has exploded, and heads no longer spin when contemplating the fiery duo.
The marriage of chile and chocolate is not new by any means. The use of cacao pods to create a frothy, chile-spiced bitter drink dates back to the Maya and Aztecs, who imbibed it for its health benefits. Europeans are responsible for adding sugar and processing to create devilishly sweet and addictive confections. Today, people familiar with authentic Mexican cuisine will recognize the delicious depth of flavor created by the well-balanced mixture of chiles and chocolate in mole sauces.
An expanded range of chocolate vendors will participate in the Chile-Chocolate Wonderland this year—many local to Brooklyn and all delicious. Some, like Taza, serve stripped-down confections in homage to the original chocolates, using stone-ground cocoa nibs and mild doses of sugar to create deeply flavored and textured chocolate that they believe preserve health benefits. Fine and Raw's chocolatier, Daniel Sklaar, combines his love of chocolate with humor and a strong sense of environmental responsibility to create healthy, whimsical, rich-flavored confections. His organic chocolates use ingredients like blue agave syrup and sea salt to transform heirloom raw cacao into indulgences you can feel good about craving. For the more adventurous taster, Lagusta's Luscious has been dreaming up some incredible flavor combinations. Its harissa truffles feature a Moroccan-inspired sauce made from scratch with a special blend of herbs and spices and medium-hot chiles, topped off with a pinch of paprika.
If you're looking for big taste plus some good ol' competition, then make your way to the Chile-Chocolate Takedown. This culinary contest features six amateur chefs presenting their finest spicy chocolate creations to compete for the title of Chile Chocolate Champ. Audience members vote for their favorite creation on ballots after tasting each entry. Organized and hosted by Takedown creator Matt Timms, the contest this year offers entries ranging from spicy s'mores to a chile-chocolate quiche! Last year's winner was a delectable mole empanada.
For those of you who think that chiles are all fire and no fun, the Chile Pepper Fiesta has just the recipe to change your mind. Former Big Apple Circus ringmasters Robbins & Ringold emcee a day of fire-eating, chile-juggling excitement amid a spicy mix of music on the main stage. Kids can create their very own "hot" cocoa mixes to take home. Adults can make their way to the Chocolate Bar, where chocolate and chile-inspired beers await on tap. With its mix of sweet treats, incendiary sauces, spicy-scented soaps, and sizzling sounds, BBG's Chile Pepper Fiesta offers entertainment for all the senses.
Chile Pepper Fiesta
Saturday, October 1, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.