Field of Science

Mole Poblano - spicy chocolate sauce

Everyone is familiar enough with chocolate as a confection; thank you Daniel Peter. But chocolate was used as a cooking ingredient long before that. This weeks lab deals with stimulants, caffeine, nicotine, and theobromine, and the latter means chocolate, not as a confection, but as a traditional Mesoamerican cooking flavoring/spice. No better way of spicing up chicken or turkey than to make a simple mole. Sorry, my timing is bad especially if you had turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving and ran out of ideas. Here's a simple and milder version for my food wimpy and cooking averse students.

10 dried ancho** chili peppers
5 Tbsp almonds
2 cloves garlic
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp sesame seeds (OK mixing some metaphors here*.)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chicken broth (save from cooking some chicken)
2 cups boiling water
2 onions chopped
1/2 cup raisins
2 Tbsp masa harina (maize flour)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander
4 Tbsp cooking oil
2 oz Mexican chocolate (or use semisweet chocolate plus 4 tsp sugar, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 2-3 drops of vanilla extract)

Soak peppers in boiling water until soft. Discard stems and seeds; save water. Put peppers, almonds onions, garlic, tomatoes, raisins, masa harina, sesame seeds, spices, into a blender with a few Tbsp of the pepper water. Blend at medium speed until a paste is formed. Add more water as necessary. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add chili paste and cook stirring 2-3 mins. Add chicken broth gradually, stirring. Add chocolate & stir until melted. Sauce should be the consistency of heavy cream. This can be frozen or refrigerated until later. Serve on tamales or chicken and cheese filled tortillas.

Poblano peppers are not scary hot, so this isn't as spicy hot as you might think. As as an even easier alternative, you can go to a Mexican grocery and buy a jar of Dona Maria or some other mole sauce, and then like everyone else, use the empty jar as a juice glass. Enjoy.

*Sesame, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, almonds, garlic, onions, and raisins were not part of moles prior to 1492 as all are of Old World origin, so traditional recipes would have used other ingredients, e.g., allspice instead of cloves.

**Poblano and ancho chili peppers are the same thing, but called the former when green and the latter when ripe, red, and dried. So why isn't it Mole Ancho? No idea.


Bend said...

Love the mole. And the dona Maria is muy bueno and super easy.

Carol Steel said...

Thanks for this. Making it today! Anticipating deliciousness.

Anonymous said...

It is called mole poblano because of the Mexican city where it was supposedly created, Puebla, not because of the ingredients.
The most common version of the legend takes place at the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla sometime early in the colonial period. Upon hearing that the archbishop was going to visit, the convent nuns went into a panic because they were poor and had almost nothing to prepare. The nuns prayed and brought together the little bits of what they did have, chili peppers, spices, day-old bread nuts and a little chocolate and more. They killed an old turkey they had, cooked it and put the sauce on top; and the archbishop loved it. Another version states that it was a nun who by accident knocked over the chiles into the chocolate thus creating the mole sauce.

The Phytophactor said...

Hmmm, mole Puebla, not mole poblano? I like the ingredient story better.

Anonymous said...

Poblano is an adjective. Adjectives in Spanish go after the noun, thus things from Puebla are called poblano...