Mole (mo-lay) is a spicy, rich, dark-ish chocolate sauce that I got introduced to only a few years ago.
Mole, apparently, is derived from the Aztec word Molli, which means sauce or stew. Oaxaca (we-hä-ka), in southeastern Mexico, is where this sauce is supposed to have originated. Apparently seven distinguishable varieties of Moles are prepared in Oaxaca to this day.
The sauce has a blend of dry chilies, onion, garlic and some toasted pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds.
But, the special ingredient that makes the sauce is cocoa powder.
And Cocoa is the ingredient I would like to write about in this post for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen. (Kalyn hosts only on the first Sunday of the month... Anh at Food Lover's Journey is hosting it next week Apr 2nd through Apr 8th)
Cocoa is the dried and partially fermented fatty seed of the cacao tree from which chocolate is made. "Cocoa" can often also refer to cocoa powder, the dry powder made by grinding cocoa seeds and removing the cocoa butter from the dark, bitter cocoa solids. --WikipediaSome facts gleaned from browsing around:
- The Aztecs apparently regarded cacao as being of divine origin ('Theobroma' means 'food of the gods'). Chocolate is derived from Theobroma cacao tree and dates back a few thousand years.
- Cocoa ( Theobroma cacao L. ) is a native of Amazon region of South America. The bulk of it is produced in the tropical areas of the African continent. There are over 20 species in the genus but the cocoa tree Theobroma cacao is the only one cultivated widely.
- The cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao) produces over 150 different chemicals in its leaves, fruit, seeds and bark. Medicinal use of the cocoa plant dates back thousands of years to the Olmec, Mayan and Aztec civilizations: Anxiety, fever, fatigue and coughs were all treated with preparations made from parts of the cocoa plant.
- Cocoa Pods grow on the trunk, not on branches; and each tree yields about 20-30 pods, each pod having about 25-35 beans.
- The darker the chocolate the more anti-oxidants it contains. The saturated fats found in cocoa beans, unlike saturated animal fats, can also help lower bad blood cholesterol and actually raise 'good' cholesterol levels.
Aren't I glad I love dark chocolate!
Some good information about the plant itself - cultivating, harvesting, along with some good pictures - is available at the Directorate of Cashew nut and Cocoa Development (DCCD) website.
Mole sauce is widely used in Mexico for flavoring poultry, mainly chicken and turkey. I have used this sauce to flavor a chicken breast. But, since I am not fond of chicken or turkey, I have used it in a vegetable dish here as well.
There are many variations of this sauce, and it can be adapted to taste, the primary ingredients being cocoa powder and chilies. Any version of the commercially available unsweetened cocoa powder can be used, but, since I am partial to dark chocolate, I use Hershey's™ Special Dark.
This mole sauce can be refrigerated for up to a month, stored in an air tight container. Here is my version of the spicy chocolate sauce: Mole.
Ingredients for Mole sauce:
4-5 dry pasilla chilies, soaked & reconstituted in hot water (seeds removed)
2 Tbsp Hershey's™ Special Dark cocoa powder
2 shallots, or 1 medium red onion, diced
¼ cup diced ginger root
4-6 cloves of garlic
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 Tbsp coriander powder
¼ cup dark raisins
combine all the sauce ingredients (except the cocoa powder) with some water in a blender or food processor, and blend to a fine smooth paste; simmer the blended paste gently over medium low heat till rawness of onion and garlic goes away; then add the cocoa powder, stir well and continue simmering till the sauce is fairly thick; if storing in the fridge, allow the sauce to cool completely before putting away.
Serve this sauce over grilled chicken or turkey breast. Alternately, pan-cook the chicken breast smothered in mole sauce.
For a vegetarian version, I found that this sauce goes well with cauliflower and potatoes. Just sauté some onions, add the potatoes and cauliflower and some of the prepared mole sauce and cook till done. This goes well with roti or naan.