- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 sticks of cinnamon
- 1/2 white onion (large)
- 2 guajillo chiles
- 2 pasilla chiles/chile negro
- 2 ancho chiles/poblano
- 2 bars of taza chocolate
- 2-3 tomatoes (large)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 ripe plantain
- 1/2 cup unrefined brown sugar
- 2 cups water
Rich, dark and delicious, mole is a signature sauce in Mexican cooking. During a recent trip to Ixtapa, Mexico, I learned how to make authentic Mole Sauce. Saying “Mole Sauce” is actually redundant since Mole is the Spanish word for “sauce.”
Mole is king of all sauces. There are many variations, but the basic ingredients include plenty of chiles and nuts along with a touch of chocolate to tame the heat of the chiles. Mole’s sophisticated blend of flavors earns it the right to be served as an entree, sometimes with a mere sprinkling on top of your favorite vegetable dish, or simply with rice and beans. It also pairs amazingly well with fruit or your favorite dessert, perhaps some coconut ice cream.
What makes a Mexican mole unique are its ingredients. The most important ingredient is a variety of chiles or chili peppers. An interesting fact that I learned was that a pepper when fresh has a different name than when smoked or dried. For instance, the poblano pepper is called ancho chile once dried/smoked. And the jalapeno pepper is called a chipotle chile once dried/smoked. Another thing to point out is that if you use the word chile vs. chilies vs. dried pepper, it’s all the same, so you may see then used interchangeably throughout this post.
The mole’s depth of flavor however comes from the number of other ingredients that are added. A mole can have up 20 or 30 ingredients. Those ingredients, surprisingly, also include plantains, raisins, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds (traditionally a blend of nuts, but due to allergies we are using pumpkin seeds instead). Traditional mole also uses chicken stock and/or pork lard, which we are skipping all together. The resulting mole will be velvety smooth and decadent sauce with a nice spicy kick and hint of chocolate.
- Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender.
- Then add the tomato and plantain, cook until tender.
- Add and mix in the dry ingredients until well combined.
- Add approximately 2 cups of water then add chocolate and stir until melted.
- Meanwhile, over an open flame (if you have a gas stove) or under a broiler, slightly char your chiles. How can you tell when they’ve been charred? You’ll see them change shape and also start to smoke.
- Lastly add your charred, smoked chiles to your sauce and let simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
- Once you remove ingredients from the heat, be sure to fish out your cinnamon sticks first, then add hot ingredients (carefully) to a blender to mix until smooth. The ingredients should be very finely blended until the sauce becomes velvety with a nice sheen. The sauce’s color should range from a dark orange/red to a deep brown (depending on how much chocolate you added).
- Pour sauce back into your pan to cook for another 15 minutes. Of course, the longer the sauce cooks (at a low heat) the better. This time also gives you the chance to see if anything else is needed (such as a touch of salt). Go easy if you add anything because you can always add more but once you’ve overdone it, it’s hard to remove that. Tip: if it’s too spicy for you simply add some more tomatoes and chocolate. Also if the mole has thickened beyond the consistency of a creamy soup stir in a little more water.