Maple mirch and other sweet-heat pairings

Successfully pairing sweet and heat flavors involve more than plopping peppers into ice cream. Formulators may wish to consider smoky notes, the fat in a food and the geographic region of the pepper. Listed below are examples of sweet-heat flavor pairings.

Brown sugar and molasses with smoky heat: Julie Clarkson, senior research chef for Sensient Flavors, said the brown sugar and molasses support the depth of flavor that the smoke emits. Food with some body or fat would work well with the sweet-heat pairing, she said.

“For example, fish producing heavy oil would work better than salmon or a perch, which is on the lighter side,” Ms. Clarkson said.

Chocolate and chipotle: The two flavors pair well together because their smoky notes complement each other, said Judson McLester, executive chef and ingredient sales manager at McIlhenny Co., Avery Island, La.

“You can play with the sweetness and smokiness of the final flavor profile based on the percentage of cocoa solids in the chocolate,” he said. “The darker the chocolate, the smokier the final product will be, and vice versa, if you use a sweet milk chocolate, the end product will be sweeter.”

Coconut sugar with “spiky” heat

Coconut sugar with “spiky” heat: “Spiky” heat does not necessarily let you taste the nuances of the pepper involved, Ms. Clarkson said.

Fruit and habanero: The natural sweetness of fruit, like pineapple, pairs well with habanero, Mr. McLester said.

“The Tabasco brand habanero sauce actually contains mango, banana and pineapple to complement the fruity flavor naturally occurring in habanero peppers,” he said. “The fruit and peppers also balance each other.”

Maple mirch: Sensient paired the flavor profile of sweet maple with the complex flavor of Indian spices to create maple mirch, said Jean Shieh, marketing manager for Sensient Natural Ingredients.

“This flavor taps into consumers’ desires for comfort food as well as heat and ethnic flavors, and it shows great (potential) in sauces, snacks or even ice cream and coffee, proving an exciting experience for consumers,” she said.

Maple mirch fits into the “breakfast anytime” trend, which Sensient expects will continue, Ms. Shieh said. Ms. Clarkson said mirch is the Hindi word for “chili.”

Sriracha hot chili sauce.

Sriracha hot chili sauce: Kikkoman Sales USA, Inc., San Francisco, offers the sauce that features Southeast Asian-style sweet-tangy flavor made from chilies marinated in vinegar with garlic, salt and sugar.