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Mole! Spicy chocolate featured at annual chile pepper festival • Brooklyn Paper

Mole! Spicy chocolate featured at annual chile pepper festival

Tumbador Chocolate Owner Jean-Francois Bonnet doesn’t mess around! But he does get messy in the kitchen when he’s making his famous chile pepper-infused Mexican hot chocolate, which will be featured at the Chile Pepper Fiesta at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Oct. 1.
Photo by Tom Callan

Holy mole!

Fire up your tastebuds, because this Saturday’s Chile Pepper Fiesta at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is hotter — and sweeter — than ever.

The annual celebration of all things spicy will feature a record number of chocolate makers slinging fiery treats at the “Chile-Chocolate Wonderland” at the Osborne Garden, where the best of the best will showcase delectibly dangerous confections that marry the sweetness of chocolate and the heat of the chile pepper.

“The combination of chiles and chocolate mixes a richness of flavor with an almost devilish sense of the unexpected,” said Anita Jacobs, the festival’s director.

Local chefs will face off in a chile-chocolate “Takedown” for bragging rights over the best spicy chocolate combos, and attendees will have a chance to make their own spicy hot chocolate at a demonstration booth nearby.

Jacobs fell in love with the explosive flavor combo after a visit to Mexico, where she first tried a chocolate mole sauce. But back in Brooklyn, when she decided to feature chile-chocolate at the festival in 2009, the trend hadn’t yet caught on.

Whip it: Jean-Francois Bonnet stirs up a batch of Mexican hot cholocate with a chile pepper kicker.
Photo by Tom Callan

“Originally, we had to go to a number of companies and say ‘Hey, would you consider making a spicy chocolate?’ ” said Jacobs. “In the last few years, I started to see that a number of local bakeries were featuring phenomenal spicy brownies and it seemed like a fun idea to bring a sweet side to the Fiesta.”

Jean-Francois Bonnet, owner of Tumbador Chocolate in Sunset Park, will be selling hot chocolate blended with Mexican and French peppers, cream, milk, cinnamon and ginger.

“It’s one of the oldest food combinations. The Myans and Aztecs were the first ones to do it,” said Bonnet. “In modern times, it has become more and more [popular] since it’s now easier to get all the peppers and chiles.”

But don’t worry: if you’re not inclined to eat dessert first, the 19-year-old festival boasts a wide array of chile-related activities — including live bands and a mariachi parade — and plenty of local vendors selling spicy savory dishes like Korean kimchee, fresh salsas, hot mustard, spicy Indonesian nuts, Jamaican jerk spicy rub and a melange of hot sauces.

The Chile Pepper Fiesta at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden [900 Washington Ave. between Empire Boulevard and Eastern Parkway, (718) 623-7200] Oct. 1 from 11 am to 6 pm. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, students and kids. Garden members and kids under 12 get in free. For info visit www.bbg.org.

Photo by Tom Callan

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