While the majority of European chocolate-makers simply continue to either use “chilli” or refuse “chilli,” thinking (wrongly) that it’s either all about the ‘heat’ and all the same, or something that everyone’s done before, US chocolatiers (or at least some of them) don’t just use chilli, they tend to go for particular varieties of it.
Not only that, but at least Vosges Haute Chocolat has even brought chilli and chocolate together as “superfood”:
Their “Super Dark” chocolate series, among other flavors, includes a “guajillo & chipotle chili” bar (in chocolate with 72% cacao), which is a very nicely balanced, neutral, dark chocolate flavor (for better or worse, depending on your taste in dark chocolate) with a slight and lightly lingering spiciness fitting for the chile pepper varieties used (though I would have expected a bit more smokiness from the chipotle).
Meanwhile, their “Red Fire Caramel Bar” has “Mexican ancho y chipotle chillies, Ceylon cinnamon, rich caramel, dark chocolate” and, to me a least, feels quite salty on first bite, as the cinnamon-infused caramel hits, then develops a warmth of cinnamon and increasingly of spice.
It never becomes too noticeably spicy (which it again shouldn’t, given the varieties used), but there is a note of the smoky sweetness of ancho chile which is nice. (It’s one of the best varieties/types of chilli to use for chocolate, in my opinion; there’s a reason it is one of the essential chillis for moles.)
The whole talk of superfoods, exaggerated as it often is, can get a bit ridiculous, but I do not mind it here.
There are no particular health promises being made, there is nothing of the “this food will make you healthier than you’ve ever been” that is sometimes seen in this field, but there is a recognition that chilli is super, and so is a decent, real chocolate.
All the better that it is not just about any generic “chilli” – which I continue to claim doesn’t really exist, if only you open your senses – but about specific varieties/types.
How I wish more people, not least European chocolate makers, finally came to realize the same.