You’re not still looking for treats, are you? Really? Well, you’re in luck! I had a late inspiration, and now I have you to share it with!
When I was at the recent Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Expo, I had the good luck to meet Chef Tom Fraker of Melissa’s Produce. Chef Tom was handing out chocolate chip cookies spiked with Hatch chile peppers. Oh, my! Were they ever fabulous! The sweet, subtle spiciness of bits of Hatch chiles cloaked in the sweet cookie dough and accented with smooth chocolate chips – heaven! Heaven, I tell you.
Hatch chiles are only grown in the Mesilla Valley of New Mexico and are only available fresh for a few short weeks in August and September. These people have giant pepper roasting parties, people! They build fires and roast peppers – the aromatic smoke wafting for miles around. I have visions of the Southwest People dancing Druid-like, worshiping the precious Hatch as it smolders on the sacramental pyres. Okay, maybe I got a little carried away, but, as a Florida girl, I’ve only heard legends of the famous pepper. It seems that those who are fortunate enough to live where the Hatch is grown, delight in taunting the rest of us with mere descriptions of its flavor, whispering of its delights as they pull 5 and 10 pound bags of the stuff out of their freezers and wave them in our faces. Long distance, of course.
So, when Chef Tom handed me these jars of Melissa’s dried and ground Hatch Chile, and said, “Go ahead – play with them,” I could not refuse. No, I could not. I would have taken them to bed with me that night, if Mike hadn’t put his foot down. But I digress.
I was also given a copy of Melissa’s new book, The Hatch Chile Cookbook, by Sharon Hernandez and Chef Ida Rodriguez, and thought I’d review it here for you.
I’ll start by saying that roughly 95% of the recipes in this cookbook call for fresh (or roasted frozen) Hatch Chiles. If you are one of the anointed members of the Southwest People with a freezer-full of chiles, you’ve come to the right place. There are many delectable sounding recipes here, representing everything from appetizers to desserts to cocktails. Spicy Vanilla Milkshake, anyone? Remember those awesome chocolate chip chile cookies I was telling you about? They’re here, too!
There are, however, a few recipes that call for only the ground chile powder, but since I didn’t have time to get permission to reproduce one of those for you, here, I decided to branch out a bit.
Chef Tom also told me about these cookies he makes, where he cheats and gets a box of devil’s food cake mix, adds some butter and some Hatch Chile Powder, and makes a cookie dough! That recipe’s in the book, too. Mmmm… Anyway, I decided to make brownies, and do something similar. These’ll wake the kids up! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
I feel kind of guilty, calling this a “recipe”, because it’s so ridiculously easy. (And yes, I cheated, too!)
1 box – your favorite excellent quality brownie mix (plus whatever it requires) -or- your favorite brownie recipe for an 8″x 8″ pan
2 tsp. Melissa’s Hatch Chile Powder (hot or mild, your choice)
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Prepare an 8″ x 8″ baking pan by spraying with cooking spray or greasing well with oil or butter.
Combine the dry ingredients with the Hatch Chile Powder. I used the Hot, but if Mild is more your speed, go for it! Add the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake according to package directions or your favorite recipe.
That’s it! These are dressed for Halloween, but you don’t have to decorate them at all. After all, why would you relegate brownies to just once a year? Try these variations:
Rocky Road To Hell Brownies: Stir 1 cup of mini marshmallows and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans into the batter before baking.
Spicy Brownie Cookies: Don’t add the egg, oil, and/or water in your recipe. Substitute 8 Tbs. (one stick) butter, softened at room temperature. If the batter is still too thick, add 2 Tbs water. Use an electric hand mixer if you have one. Drop by tablespoonfuls about 2″ apart onto a cookie sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper or silicone baking pan liner. Bake for about 11-13 minutes. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
Rocky Road to Hell Cookies: As above, add mini marshmallows & chopped nuts to the cookie dough.
The Hatch Chile Powder adds a bit of sweet heat to your confections and pairs incredibly well with the chocolate. I admit – the special flavor of the Hatch Chile is undeniable. You and your friends will love this!
I confess that I have a new favorite chile pepper. Okay, the Hatch pepper hasn’t replaced the Chipotle pepper in my heart, but it’s right up there.
To get The Hatch Chile Cookbook and Hatch Chile Powder, visit Melissa’s Produce online. I think they’d make a great holiday gift, together. Also, I understand that Melissa’s will also ship fresh Hatch Chile Peppers to you, when they’re in season. So, even if you don’t live anywhere near the sacred hunting ground of the revered Hatch, you can dream about them all winter and get some yourself, next summer!
(Yes, I still stand by my assertion that “Chile is the country and chili is the pepper”, but since Melissa’s is using “chile”, I’m kinda stuck with it. *Sigh*)
I was given Melissa’s Hatch Chile Powder and a copy of The Hatch Chile Cookbook by Melissa’s Produce, while attending the PMA’s Fresh Summit Convention & Expo – to “play” with. No compensation and no promises were arranged for or given. All opinions expressed are my own, as always.