In which we talk about scary things: pumpkin guts, weaponized chile peppers, ghosts [in the form of chiles], and nine billion pieces of candy corn. And pets in costumes. ::shiver::
Allspice Culinarium

A Real-Life Ghost Tale

Americans love Halloween. Every year, 120 million of us [including lots of people waaaay too old to trick-or-treat] dress up in costumes. We buy 35 million pounds [that's nine billion pieces!] of candy corn every year. And don't get us started on pet costumes. Seriously. That is truly frightening.

But for some of us, the real thrill doesn't come from a suspenseful movie [though that gives us an excuse for making popcorn with truffle oil] or from the annual trip to the pumpkin patch.  We get our spooky kicks from the aptly named Ghost Chile. Why does the mention of its name send a shiver down our spines?


Perhaps the Ghost Chile was given the name because of the way the heat sneaks up on the one who eats it. Originating from the northeastern part of India, particularly Assam [a name tea-drinkers will recognize] near Bangladesh, Ghost Chile is also called Bhut Jolokia, Bih jolokia ['poison chilli'] or naga Morich chile, among other local names.

Unknown to the western world before 2000, the Ghost Chile is similar in appearance to the habanero, but is 2-3 times hotter. This is a serious chile - for point of reference, it is **400 times** hotter than Tabasco sauce. A jalapeno pepper rates about 3,000 Scoville* units. A habanero measures 300,000 Sc. The Ghost Chile? ONE MILLION SCOVILLE* UNITS.

This Bhut Jolokia Ghost Chile pepper can hurt you. Wear gloves or don't touch anything [like your EYES] you might regret! This chile pepper is so hot, military researchers have experimented with making it into a weaponized pepper-spray grenade. So, you know, be careful. [And no weapons-making in the kitchen, you guys. Bake Buns Not Guns.]

Okay -- scare tactics aside, the taste of this pepper is worth the danger: the Ghost Chile gives a smoky intense flavor and insane heat. Ghost chile is best when it's used to spike a chunky salsa, or as a chile oil to drizzle on stews or made into mayonnaise. Mix sparingly into rice and beans or dress a crunchy taco.  We asked our own Chef Amy about other ideas for using Ghost Chiles, and she suggested sauce for homemade ice cream [recipe on our website], barbecque sauce, in bbq spice rubs and in chili. We've also heard it used in making homemade [very] spicy jerky.

Other uses for the Bhut Jolokia pepper include remedies for maladies as far-ranging as stomach ailment [!], herpes and depression, and as a remedy to the summer heat -- Ghost Chiles will increase perspiration when ingested.  As for us, we prefer to confine our Ghost-Chile-as-controlled-substance use to culinary applications. 

If you're not afraid of ghost [chile]s, try some of our recipes linked in this article, and see if you agree!

*And What Are These Strange Scoville Units of Which You Speak?

The Scoville Scale, the method of testing a pepper's pungency units invented by Wilbur Scoville in 1912. Mr. Scoville determined his test results by taking the extracts of many types of chili peppers and diluting them in a sugared water solution until none of the heat remained. The testing was accomplished by a panel of 5 "judges" who would taste these solutions and then tell Mr. Scoville when they no longer felt any heat. This testing was very subjective as your can imagine and results were not very consistent. 

Even though the individual "hotness" measurements are not scientifically specific, and individual batches or crops of particular peppers can be hotter or milder depending on growing conditions, chile lovers tend to agree on the order of the chile pepper "continuum", if you will. Here is a partial list of the many kinds of chile peppers we carry at AllSpice, starting with the mildest and moving towards the hottest: Bell pepper, New Mexico Chile, Ancho, Pasilla, Guajillo, JalapenoChipotle, Serrano, Chile de Arbol, Cayenne, Thai Chile, Habanero, and [drum roll] Ghost Chile.   

Did You Have Fun At Our Party?

We sure did! For those of you who came by last weekend to help us celebrate our first anniversary, THANK YOU! The Oktoberfest party was [in our very biased opinion] a big success! It was a treat for us to get to host you at the store, and to showcase our ingredients in some of our favorite seasonal recipes. 

For those of you who, because of distance, or fabulously full social calendar, couldn't join us, we still say THANK YOU. Our first year in business has far exceeded our ambitious goals -- and it's all because of you, our friends and customers.

Interested in finding out more about the menu, and how we created dishes we served at the Oktoberfest party? Check out our blog, and this article that has links to all our recipes!

Saturday Sampler

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Okay, not really.  This week's Saturday Samplers run with the Halloween theme, but are perfectly G-rated [for Gourmet], to assure no food- or fright-induced nightmares.

The savory Sweet and Spicy Pepitas make tasty use of the pumpkin seeds [or "pumpkin guts," if your G-rating=Gory -- or you have adolescent boys in the house] once you've carved your Jack-o-Lantern. The surprising combination of spices [cinnamon, with hot cumin, cayenne and chili powder] will make up for the "ick" of using your hands to scoop out the stringy "innards."

Tempted to eat that whole bag of Fun Size candy bars you got to hand out to the trick-or-treaters? Satisfy your sweet craving with Chef Amy's Brownies with Ghost Chili Frosting instead. The smidgen of ground Ghost Pepper packs a delicious spicy punch.

Chocolate-Ancho Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee is, on its own, a fantastic dessert: your own personal ramekin of eggy custard, topped with a glistening crust of caramelized sugar. Chocolate creme brulee is fantastic+1, since you've blended melted [in our case bittersweet] chocolate into the mix.

Push the recipe, and your taste buds, over the top with the addition of cinnamon and powdered Ancho chile. Make Chocolate-Ancho Creme Brulee several hours ahead and get it chilled, making you look like the most organized chef ever.
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