while I wait for it to ferment I figured I would play with flavors some to decide the next steps.
Whipped up a batch of "actual" xocolatl today based on the information I found online so I could see what it may have tasted like. Using what ingredients I had at hand.
I took 2 cups of water and simmered about half a dry ancho pepper in it for about 15 minutes along with a couple of spoonfuls of cornmeal. Added a 1/2" piece of vanilla bean and about a 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder. I used one of those wand mixer/pureerer things to blend it all smooth, pepper and all. Then I cooled it down as I have read it was a cool to cold drink. Also no sugar though I have read that sometimes honey was used. I just wanted to get a feel for the chile and cocoa flavors.
Interesting. Could only take a few sips. As thick and viscous as it is in body (like a paste) it is a bit thin in flavor somehow. Not as bitter as expected. I suppose there is quite a difference using processed cocoa powder vs. actual cacao nibs.
The conclusion. Ancho peppers taste great but are WAY too mild. There really is not any heat at all. Maybe they would be hotter from infusion in the beer (alcohol) but I am skeptical. I do not want this to be a fiery undrinkable thing but I would like some warmth heat to be perceived in there. A bit of kick to let you know it is there but not make it undrinkable. I really enjoy the flavor of the ancho though. I taste it more than the cocoa I believe. I just wonder if it will be too subtle amongst all the roasty character and high alchohol. Perhaps a combination of peppers. Maybe one dry habenero with several ancho peppers.
In another flavor project I put a few tablespoons of cocoa powder in some vodka to infuse. If I need to add some more cocoa bitterness I think this will work. After the initial burn of the cheap voda I can taste some cocoa. I put it in a small mason jar and just like I suspect will happen with the beer the cocoa has settled out of solution. The liquid on top is dark though and again I believe it has the cocoa essence.