Friday, August 21, 2009

The Hidden Perils of Peppers?

I was reading through The Complete Chile Pepper Book and came across this useful warning:
Capsaicin, the alkaloid responsible for the heat in chiles, is wonderful for making bland foods interesting, but it is far less welcome in large doses on the skin, or in any amount in your eyes. We urge everyone to who processes chiles in any form to wear gloves when handling them. This is especially important when handling the hotter varieties, because chile burns can be extremely painful and even cause contact dermatitis, redness, and blistering of the skin.

It made me think of the funny segment Jeff Gillman had on The Martha Stewart Show earlier this year. You can watch Martha's laughter-inducing warning here.

Here's another bit from The Complete Chile Pepper Book about what to do if you burn your mouth with a pepper:
When you burn your mouth and tongue, eat a thick dairy product like cream, sour cream, yogurt, or ice cream and swirl it around in your mouth before swallowing. A protein in the dairy product, casein, effectively strips the capsaicin molecules from the capsaicin receptors in your mouth and on your tongue.

After taking in all the above warnings, I think I can safely tackle making this recipe from the book without hurting myself.

Double Trouble Chocolate Truffles

New Mexican red chile is the heat source in this tremendous treat. With the combination of baking chocolate and white chocolate, it’s exceptionally wonderful to munch on. Try substituting 2 teaspoons of cayenne powder for the New Mexican chile to heat the truffles up even more!

8 ounces baking chocolate
4 ounces white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons sugar (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon ground New Mexican red chile (or more, to taste)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 14-ounce can light sweetened condensed milk
Finely chopped piƱon nuts, or substitute pecans

Use a double boiler, or fill a 3-quart saucepan three-quarters full of water, and heat until the water is almost boiling.

Place both kinds of chocolate in a smaller saucepan and melt over the hot water, stirring until smooth.

Add the sugar, chile, cinnamon, and milk, mixing until very smooth. Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool until it is shapeable.

Shape the chocolate mixture into 1-inch thick balls, then roll them in the nuts. Chill the candy in the refrigerator in an airtight tin.

Kathryn Juergens, sales and marketing associate
information and recipe from The Complete Chile Pepper Book, available in October

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