I know it sounds weird
First: I don’t eat spicy food. My heritage is firmly planted in Anglo-Germanic cooking and jalapeños are not something I ever consider. That said, we were in San Antonio a few weeks ago and had dinner at Bohanan’s. Bohanan’s is a great place: well-crafted cocktails at the bar downstairs, a great not-too-loud jazz quartet, perfect little appetizers. When we moved upstairs for dinner the first thing before us was Candied Jalapeños.
I eyed them suspiciously but tried a taste anyway. We fought over the rest of the serving and we both got that “how do you make these?” gleam in our eyes. Thus began the great candied jalapeño recipe hunt of 2014.
A search for Candied Jalapeños turns up several takes on the candying process. Some start with already-pickled jalapeños and add sugar, while others take a pickling approach with vinegar & pickling spices. I tried the pickling method and the jalapeños ended up…well…like sweet pickles, but pale green and waxy. Nothing close to Bohanan’s. And that jar-o-previously-pickled-jalapenos + sugar just felt like cheating. So, I looked toward candied orange peel recipes for inspiration: fruit + sugar + water. I figured I would cook them a bit less and they’d be perfect. Well, not exactly.
The first time I boiled the peppers for 12 minutes and ended up with shriveled, chewy little pieces of pepper. Not what I was looking for. So I cut the boiling time in half (ish) but the syrup was still too thin to use. So, I poured the cool syrup back in my pan and boiled it to thicken. This is as close as I’ve come to Bohanan’s pickles.
The traditional Bohanan’s serving suggestion follows.
- Rubber gloves
- Sharp knife
- Long-handled spoon
- Medium saucepan
- (2) One pint canning jars (or one quart jar)
- 10-12 medium jalapeños
- 300 ml granulated sugar
- 150 ml water
- Measure 300ml granulated sugar and pour into medium saucepan.
- Measure ~150ml cool water and add to sugar in saucepan.
- Stir the sugar-water mixture to combine and place over medium heat.
- Trim the tops off the jalapeños. Cut jalapeños in rings, about ¼” inch thick, and place in a small bowl.
- All at once add the jalapeños to the saucepan, stir quickly, and drop on the lid.
- Boil the jalapeños for about 5 or 6 minutes stirring once about halfway through.
- Remove from heat and spoon the jalapeño rings into your jar.
- Return the syrup to the stove, turn the heat to high and boil 4-5 minutes until syrup begins to foam and is relatively thick.
- Pour syrup over jalapeños and seal tightly.
- Allow to cool on the counter for ½ an hour.
- Using a kitchen towel or glove, rotate the jar a couple of times to mix and put in refrigerator.
- For the next couple of days, rotate (don’t shake) the jalapeños. You can serve anytime after about a day and a half.
I use the jar I’ll be putting the candied jalapeños into. This isn’t rocket science. You just need a 2:1 ratio of water to sugar. And while I use canning jars this is not canning. The jars are just convenient.
You may want to put on gloves at this point.
DO NOT stick your face over this pan. Capsacin is released by the jalapeños and you can get a nasty pepper burn. Seriously.
THESE MUST BE STORED IN THE REFRIGERATOR. THERE ARE NO PRESERVATIVES. THESE ARE NOT PANTRY SAFE.
- 8 ounce block of cream cheese
- 2 Tablespoon heavy cream – or 3 Tablespoons Marscapone
- Crackers for serving (we use water crackers)
Bring cream cheese to room temperature. Add cream or Marscapone and mix well. (N.B. -I also add about a tablespoon of the jalapeño syrup from the jar. Let you conscience be your guide.)
Scrape into a serving bowl, and surround with crackers. There’s a lot of flavor here and crackers covered with nuts and seeds tend to compete.