Chile-Cacao Spice Mix

Pequín chiles have a citrusy, smoky flavor and complement the bitter cacao nibs. They’re slightly hotter than cayenne peppers, so use this condiment to season the Mayan Pepita-Chicken Stew to taste.

Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
30 mins
Makes about 2/3 cup


  • 2 tablespoons pequín chiles or cobanero chiles (about 1/4 ounce)

  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs (about 2 1/2 ounces)

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or fine sea salt, plus more to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon hot or sweet smoked Pimentón de la Vera (optional)


  1. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add chiles; cook, stirring constantly, until slightly toasted, about 15 seconds. Transfer to a large plate. Add cacao nibs to skillet; cook, stirring often, until darkened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to plate with chiles; sprinkle with salt and, if desired, smoked Pimentón. Let cool 20 minutes. Working in 3 batches, process chile mixture in a spice grinder until finely ground, about 10 seconds. (Do not over-process or the cacao will start to melt and become sticky.) Transfer to an airtight container, and store in a cool place up to 2 months.

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