Sugar and Spice: Sweet & Spicy Food is Hot in New Mexico

Sugar and Spice: Sweet & Spicy Food is Hot in New Mexico

I am essentially a middle-aged woman who likes making up weird snack combinations and galloping. ~ Miranda Hart

Don’t know why I’m continually surprised by all the sweet salsa turning up in the oddest places on the menus in this town.

In a state where roasting and storing bags of chile in the summer is a yearly ritual for most, the shopping for chile itself a kind of pilgrimage, I really shouldn’t be.

But I am.

Even after experiencing Caliche’s green chili ice cream sundae.

And those incredible cinnamon chipotle chocolate cake truffles from the Chocolate Affair.

Choco cake truffles

Uh-huh. Exactly.


Now I hear the Paleteria Lindo Michoacán has a frozen dessert worth standing in line for called a mangoñada.

Cool. Creamy. Mango. And covered in sweet salsa.

Have you tasted it yet?

Peppers, including New Mexico’s number one veggie ~ the chile ~ keep showing up with sweet stuff, where you least expect it. And I’m really starting to like it.

So I’ve been experimenting with some sweet salsa dishes of my own.

It started simply enough with a strawberry salsa, drizzled over ice cream.

strawberry salsa

salsa & ice cream

Took it up a notch with a recipe using dates, a classic desert food.

The original recipe for these Date Balls o’Fire calls for many of our favorite foods ~ coconut, chocolate, honeyPeanut butter.

But nothing to give it a fiery taste worthy of the name. So I added a (BIG) dollop of green salsa to the mix. Then rolled the chewy balls in coconut and powdered sugar.

Delicious with morning coffee.

Balls o'Fire Ingredients

Date Balls o'Fire

What happens when you take your sweet salsa on a trip around the world and use it in, say something like . . .  mochi?

You know I had to go there.

With orbs of mochi filled with freshly-roasted chile mixed with honey. Some rolled in sesame seed, some in coconut.

Can’t wait to make another batch of these.

The bite of the chile with the sweet rice mochi is a wake-up call ~ HELLO! You’ll want to put in as much sweetened chile as the mochi will allow without bursting.

Roasted Chile Mochi

This sweet version of the fried balls of rice the Sicilians named arancini ~ because they resemble little oranges ~ is my latest sweet salsa~enhanced creation.

With salsa and raisins mixed throughout and chocolate centers. And strawberry sauce.

Was it nice? Yes.

But next time, with roasted green chile instead of salsa, it will be sublime.

Mixing for Arancini


Sweet Arancini

Peek of chocolate


Now your turn to experiment . . .  What delicious combination(s) of sweet and spicy will you come up with? 


  • Sherry Carver

    I am not good at experimenting with spicy foods — again, your pictures make it irresistible! Thank you for letting me experience these great dishes even if only for a moment —

  • MelodieK

    Only a moment, eh?
    Remember the Tavares record, “It Only Takes a Minute (to Fall in Love)?” When you do make it out this way, sure you’ll find a MILD sweet salsa with your name on it!

    • Sherry Carver

      Mild is a good word! I will start slow —

  • Melissa AuClair

    Mmmm, my brother brought home a red hot chili chocolate bar! That had a kick! I made a watermelon, mango salsa a few weeks back- it also had a hot chili in it. It was pretty good :)

    • MelodieK

      There you go, chile and chocolate, both American originals! Speaking of the same, your fruit salsa would be a good one to serve this Fourth of July weekend, yeah?

  • Jenny Hester

    This post reminds me of the hot pepper jelly we eat. Sweet and spicy. Love the post and the photos are great.

    • MelodieK

      Thanks, Jenny ~ that hot pepper jelly sounds great, too! Do you slather it on whenever you grill, use it everyday like hot sauce, to spice up greens and other foods? I want to try this!

  • Giginpooh

    Hey Mel gr8 blog