The word chocolate is derived from the Nahutatl word xocolatl which means “bitter water”. In both the Mayan and Aztec cultures, xocolatl was a cold, thick ceremonial drink made from cocoa, water and corn meal. Since sugar did not reach Central America until the 16th century, the Aztecs added chilli and spices to flavour this unsweetened drink.
Fast forward a few hundred years to the present day and chilli & chocolate are still regarded as a congenial pairing. Today I’ll be looking at a product which aims to reap the benefits of these two ingredients – Black Widow by Grim Reaper Foods.
Bad puns aside, I’m actually quite excited about trying this product. Grim Reaper Foods was formed by Russell Williams in October 2009 and began trading a year later following Russell’s success at the National Chilli Awards with The Evil One. Since then Russell has scooped another 3 National Chilli Awards, 2 Great Taste Awards and a Scovie Award – an impressive haul for such a new company.
So I’m sure many of you will be dying to know how it tastes, but I feel that I have to give special mention to the packaging first. Quite simply put – it’s stunning!
The chocolate comes packaged in a glossy cardboard folder which depicts the Grim Reaper with a chilli scythe. Often packaging which features skulls or references to death can divide opinion, but I think the cartoon styling and choice of colours work really well. On the right-hand side of the product there is a hand-tied ribbon which adds to the premium feel.
Upon removing the ribbon, the product opens like a book revealing the bar of chocolate and details of the other chocolate products offered by Grim Reaper Foods – Hell Raiser and Purgatory.
One final note on the packaging – the ingredients list appears in Czech, French and Italian too.
Dark Chocolate (Cocoa Mass 70%, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Emulsifier-Soya Lecithin, Natural Vanilla), Essential Oil of Lemon, Essential Oil of Geranium and Naga Jolokia Chilli Powder.
Product kindly provided by Grim Reaper Foods.
The chocolate has a nice sheen to it and there was a reassuring snap as I broke off a square. At 70% cocoa mass I was expecting intense cocoa aromas, but these have been mellowed by the fragrance of the geranium oil. The overall aroma is inviting and reminds me a little of Turkish Delight which is commonly made with rose water.
I pop the square in my mouth and take a few moments to savour it. To my surprise the chocolate isn’t bitter at all. There’s still a pronounced dark chocolate flavour, but the essential oils add a subtle sweetness to the overall taste. The Naga chilli provides a lovely background heat which adds to the experience without being overpowering.
Where possible, I like to try cooking with chilli products too but have never cooked or baked with chilli chocolate before. Russell is an experienced chef and suggests that Black Widow would be ideal for making chocolate fondants, so I found a recipe and decided to give it a go.
Call it beginners luck, but I was very happy with the results of my chilli chocolate fondant. The chocolate was easy to work with and the essential oils enhanced the overall flavour of the dish. I found that the lemon oil became more pronounced during cooking whilst the geranium oil added a lovely aroma.
I have to admit that I was expecting the combination of dark chocolate, chilli and lemon to be too bitter, but Russell has created a unique product that has exceeded my expectations. The product is presented beautifully too and would make a fantastic gift for any chilli lover. Black Widow usually retails for £5, but if you hurry you can pick it up for £4 from the Grim Reaper Foods website. It is also available from several UK and international stockists too.