I was recently at the San Francisco Ferry Station farmer’s market and came across a table full of peppers for sale by local farmer, David Winsberg of Happy Quail Farms (photo of his son below). I thought the heirloom peppers were so beautiful that I had to buy all that I could carry! They came in a wonderful array of shapes, colors, and flavors.

I worked into the night and during the next day to create a series of images titled, Hot Stuff. In this series, I contemplated how you could use the spicy flavor of capsaicin to add depth and heat to many of my favorite foods. From hot chocolate cake to pizza to urban cowboy chili and even ice cream, many masterpieces were born.

A pizza was made with an almond crust, red pepper puree, and grated goat’s milk cheddar cheese. The combination of pureed, roasted red peppers and goats milk cheddar cheese is out of this world! An almond crust adds just the right touch of crunchy texture.

The Hot Chocolate Cake is a flourless cake with a “mole” twist. The cake is made with dark chocolate, cinnamon, hot pepper puree, butter, chili powder, brown sugar and eggs. It is finished with hand-whipped Creme Chantilly, cocoa powder sifted into a chili stencil, and a puree of peaches with hot red pepper.

Here is the recipe to my Hot Chocolate Cake, which I created when I was the Executive Pastry Chef for the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale.


8 ounces dark chocolate couverture
6 ounces unsalted butter
7 ounces sugar
5 eggs
4 ounces dutch process cocoa, sifted

(garnishes: fresh vanilla whipped cream, lightly sweetened, shaved chocolate, peach puree, cocoa powder, red chili puree)



Melt the chocolate and butter together in the microwave or over a double boiler. Do not overheat. Chocolate and butter mixture should be 110 degrees. Add the sugar to the butter chocolate mixture. Then stir in the eggs and mix smooth. Sprinkle the cocoa powder in slowly using a small sieve. Mix smooth. Pour into a shallow 10″ baking dish. Bake for 50 minutes at 375F or until firm in the center. Allow to cool then remove from the pan. Chill. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Serve over a mixture of peach puree and chili paste. Use cocoa to garnish.

View the series, Hot Stuff  in gallery format here or see below:



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