Friday, July 25, 2008

a tale of two jams

so i've been thinking a lot about the combination of sweet and spicy notes the last few weeks. well, sweet is obviously for my gigantic sweet tooth and spicy...well, me love the hot stuff. i think of my love of spicy hot stuff as one of those lifetime affairs that i'm pretty committed to.

as i was percolating over the possibilities, i decided to make some spicy fruit conserves. yet what chili to use? fresh? powered cayenne? dried bird eye chili? should i make a sugar syrup infused with chili...then add the fruit? the options seemed quite endless and i hadn't even started yet. eventually, i decided upon habanero as it may be my imagination, but i think habanero has some "fruity" notes to it.

well for my first foray into the sweet spicy conserve realm, i decided to keep it real simple. the first conserve consisted of fresh dark red pitted cherries and a few slices of habanero---sans the ribs or seeds....i wanted to be conservative with the spice for this experiment. also, as the sweetener, i used raw agave.

this one turned out quite nice and the couple of slices of the habanero minced up

really impacted the conserve.

it wasn't overly spicy but you could tell there was chili in it. the spice underscored the chunks of cherries and didn't overpower the fruit. interestingly enough, the chili really brought out "green" flavor notes with the cherries (not in a bad way).

for my second venture, i decided to kick up the spice component substantially... so i wanted a conserve with very strong sweet and sour flavors. as a result, this conserve consisted of apricots, plums, and plucots. as for the habanero, i added 4x the amount i used for the cherry conserve...and this time, i included the ribs of the pepper. again, i used only agave as my sweetener.

as this conserve was bubbling away, i could immediately smell the difference. this just smelled like it would be spicy. yum yum. plus, my mouth was already watering at the thought of flavors that combined sweet, sour, spicy, and fruity notes.

sure enough, after this conserve was done cooking...i tasted a bit of it warm...and it definitely had a stronger kick to it. also, the sweet and sour notes of the fruit held up well and didn't get overwhelmed by the habanero. i think this one is my favorite of the bunch...although the cherry habanero conserve is really good.

once both jams had cooled, i decided to truly test them out....i put split a couple of bánh bông lan (think sponge cake) and added a spoonful of jam on each.....

with some requisite tea of course.....

both were very yummy. i think i'll be adding spicy homemade fruit conserves to my everyday repertoire.

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