May is a really busy month for me, what with finals, inputting grades, and attending various awards ceremonies and two(!) separate graduations. Every. Single. Year. That’s why it’s nice to take some time to shake things u...
May is a really busy month for me, what with finals, inputting grades, and attending various awards ceremonies and two(!) separate graduations. Every. Single. Year. That’s why it’s nice to take some time to shake things up with a new product. If you’ve been following the Fiery Friday column, you’ll know that I’ve been focusing on a particular line of hot sauces. Not tonight! For this review, I’m switching gears and checking out a spice blend, something I have not done in a while. This particular blend is called Hell Flakes, and I’m always amused when I come across a product whose name references that eternal inferno. Sadly, most don’t live up to the namesake (unless we’re asking Dante Alighieri), but I’m hoping that this product succeeds in sending me to Hell.
Dried Chile Peppers
Ha! This is called “Top Secret Recipes” for a reason. While the “list” of ingredients is technically true, I have no surefire (ha!) way of knowing which peppers are present in this product. The fact that they are all red, though, should help me identify something, as should the product’s intention of being spicy. I’m not really the food detective, though. That’s more David’s style.
The contents look harmless enough. The overall appearance is a rust-red powder, with bits of lighter specks (cayenne, I’m assuming) and seeds freckling the mixture. There’s nothing about the Hell Flakes that really sets off my “Danger! Will Robinson!” alarm, though.
Smell and Taste:
You know what does set off the alarm, though? Sticking my nose way too close and trying to take a sniff. I’m pretty sure I inhaled something, because I started sneezing immediately. Upon calming my nasal cavity, I’m able to say that this definitely smells a lot like Jolokia powder. That makes me happy. I can’t tell through smell alone what else is going on in this little jar, but at least there might be ghost activity. There’s not really much in the way of flavor, since there are no other herbs or spices in this blend. The peppers are good, though.
Good news, everyone! This stuff is hot! After just a few dashes of Hell Flakes, my tongue has decided to give up and go numb. I haven’t broken out in a disgustingly profuse sweat, but I am confident in labeling Hell Flakes an easy Mean. It’s always great to see a product deliver on its promises. The only letdown is that the smoky scent that I earlier thought was Jolokia is probably more of a chipotle, since this product isn’t quite ghost-level hot. Now, let me clarify my flavor rating. You can see up there in the ratings table that I gave this a Nominal. First, a Nominal rating means something is decent. Second, I’m rating this on the same grounds as I rate everything else, which means that Nominal is based solely on how the product tastes by itself. I like the flavor of peppers, but even that isn’t all that strong here, so a Nominal it is. However, something like this absolutely needs to be enjoyed on food (obviously). Before my review, I tried it on a burger. While I couldn’t really taste the flavor difference, I did notice the heat increase. I highly recommend getting some Hell Flakes if you want to enjoy an all-purpose pepper blend that will add spice to your food without tampering with the flavor.
That said, this is going to go well on pretty much anything. Todd Wilbur’s Top Secret Recipes does make blends geared specifically towards beef, pork, or chicken, but this is the one that you can sprinkle on nearly any food and be satisfied. Just don’t overdo it, and don’t let an non-chilehead mistake it for the bog-standard red pepper flakes you find at restaurants.
By the way, you may have heard of Todd Wilbur. He&