One of my favorite chilies is the chocolate habanero; I’m sure you’ll also certainly love this chili, especially if you’re a fan of hot chilies.
By the way, habanero (originally from the Amazon rainforest) is a type of hot chili with several distinct varieties of peppers under it. The common color varieties are orange and red but you’ll also find them in chocolate, white, yellow, green, or purple colors; and in this article, the chocolate variety is in focus.
What Are Chocolate Habanero Peppers?
If you are a hot chili fan, I’m sure you’re familiar with habanero; and of course, I need not say anything about chocolate to you. But what is a chocolate habanero?
First of all, it’s neither a spicy candy nor is chocolaty in taste. Chocolate habanero is a dark brown-colored hot habanero variety of pepper originating from the Caribbean. It has distinctive features which make is significantly different from the regular orange or red variety.
To define, Chocolate Habanero pepper is a cultivar variety of habanero chili, which has been selectively bred to produce a bigger, spicier, and flavorful fruit, ultimately more potent and tasty than its derivative.
Heat-wise, this pepper is categorized as “hot pepper” which includes others like Red Savina Habanero and Indian Tezpur peppers.
Also known as “Congo Black” or “Black Habanero”, this pepper ripens to a chocolate brown and delivers searing heat. Many traditional hot Jamaican recipes rely on this pepper; the most popular among them is the Jamaican Jerk Sauce.
Over the years, different varieties of chocolate habaneros are cultivated around the world. The different varieties are either naturally evolved or genetically modified.
The best-known varieties are:
- Jamaican Hot Chocolate
- Black Congo
- Senegal Hot Chocolate
- Dark Habanero
- Cuban Habanero
- Black Habanero
They all have a chocolate or dark brown appearance, big heat, and earthy, sweet taste. Tender peppers are emerald green but the matured peppers turn into dark brown chocolate color. They all have slightly larger pods than the typical orange or red habanero peppers which are about 2 inches in length.
Key Facts In A Gist
- Capsicum species: Annuum
- Origin: Caribbean
- Other names: Congo black, Black Habanero, Jamaican hot chocolate pepper
- Harvest season: after mid-summer
- Heat level: 425,000 – 577,000 SHU
- Median heat: 501,000 SHU
- Size: 2-3 inches long, 1.5 inches wide
- Shape: tapered, smooth-skinned, pod-like
- Color: ripen from emerald green to dark chocolate brown
- Flavor: smoky, sweet, fruity, and earthy
- Use: culinary
- Popular recipes: Jamaican jerk seasoning, hot sauces, salsas, chili paste
- Substitutes: Indian Tezpur pepper, Chipotle pepper, Red Savina
What Do They Look And Taste Like?
This pepper is longer than the regular habanero and squat with thin skin. The pods grow about 2-3 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide. They take a longer time to grow and mature than the common orange/red habaneros.
The taste of chocolate habanero is moderately smoky and distinctively earthy. The typical fruity flavor of regular habanero is also boldly present in the chocolate variety as well. While chewing, you’ll feel the sweet fruity flavor initially but after a few seconds, your palate will be set ablaze with strong heat. If you aren’t used to sudden bursts of spicy heat, then taste a small portion of the pepper first; reduce the heat by discarding the seeds and inner membrane of the pepper.
Chocolate Habanero Scoville
The heat level of chocolate habanero chili ranges between 425,000 SHU to 577,000 SHU. It’s much hotter than orange habanero which has a heat level ranging between 150,000 SHU to 325,000 SHU. In short, the chocolate version has double the heat of the regular habanero. The peppers that come close to their heat level are Red Savina Habanero and Indian Tezpur pepper. In comparison to common Jalapeno, hot chocolate pepper can be up to 145 times hotter but has less than half the heat of the famous ghost pepper.
What Are Chocolate Habaneros Used For?
The chocolate pepper is the soul of the famous Jamaican jerk sauce. Also, the smoky, fruity, and earthy taste of this pepper is great for making delicious mole sauce, hot salsas, and soups. Try it as a topping on pizza, I assure you that you won’t regret it.
The mega-spicy hot sauces and chili rubs made with it is an excellent alternative to chipotle paste and rub for your meat and fish recipes.
If you enjoy very hot and spicy dishes then chocolate peppers can instantly spice up your dishes, with a little going a long way. They can be dried easily and reconstituted with water for use in sauces or cooking. In fact, dried and ground habaneros are commonly utilized in Caribbean cooking.
As a fact, hot peppers aren’t suitable for regular cooking but mild peppers like Jalapeno, Serrano, or even cayenne will easily fit into most recipes that call for pepper.
While handling and preparing hot chilies for cooking, make sure to wear gloves and kitchen glass to protect yourself from chili burn. Habanero peppers are high on capsaicin oil which can cause serious chili burns.
Tips On Growing Chocolate Habanero Plant
Unlike the orange habanero, you’ll hardly find the chocolate varieties in farmers’ markets or groceries especially if you are living out of the Caribbean. Surely, you can buy the dried version of this pepper (whole or ground) from online retailers.
If you love this pepper, start growing chocolate pepper in your kitchen garden. Purchase the seeds of this pepper from authentic heirloom seed sellers online. You can grow the seeds in containers (preferably 5-gallon pots or grow bags). It grows best in moderately sunny weather with exposure to direct sunlight. Use organic fertilizers and regular watering to achieve the best growth of the chocolate habanero plant. The typical growth time of habaneros from transplanting to harvesting is around 90 days or longer; the ripening period beginning in mid to late summer.
Are chocolate habaneros spicy?
With heat levels ranging between 425,000-577,000 SHU, the chocolate pepper is very spicy and it may be intolerable for an average chili eater. They have double the spiciness of regular orange habaneros.
Are chocolate habaneros good?
The Jamaican chocolate peppers are both spicy and tasty. This pepper is very good for making hot sauces, salsas, soups, and chili paste. It’s a good substitute for chipotle pepper. The chocolate habanero is the base ingredient for making the famous Jamaican jerk seasoning.
When to pick chocolate habanero?
Habanero peppers are maximum spicy and tasty when they are fully mature, in this case, when they are ripe with dark chocolate color. Usually, towards the end of mid or late summer is the time when chocolate peppers become ripe and ready for picking.
How to grow chocolate habanero?
Chocolate peppers grow best in sunny weather conditions similar to the Caribbean. The seedlings of the pepper can be transplanted into the open fields or in pots or grow-bags as big as 5-gallon or more. Use organic fertilizers and water the habanero plant regularly for the maximum growth of the plant. Usually, it takes about 90 days or more to start the harvest of the fruits.
Do chocolate peppers taste like chocolate?
Contrary to the name, they don’t taste like chocolate at all. Actually, the word “chocolate” refers to the color of the pepper and not the taste. The chocolate pepper tastes smoky, fruity, sweet, and earthy.
For further reading, follow the link to find out all facts on Chocolate Bhutlah on this blog.
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