The only thing better than a good recipe? When something’s so easy that you don’t even need one. Welcome to It’s That Simple, a column where we talk you through the dishes and drinks we can make with our eyes closed.

We’re big fans of adding smoky, spicy heat to sweets. Take, for instance, this Maple Chile Syrup versatile enough for endless fall cocktails, or these Ancho Mole Cookies studded with bittersweet chocolate, dried fruit, and a kick of chile powder. Sweet and heat are an underrated duo, bringing out a little something extra in desserts that can often taste one-note. 

For spreadable, snackable sweet heat, follow the lead of Ashley Rouse, founder of Trade Street Jam Co. Her smoky fruit jam combines fresh or frozen berries, dried figs, and savory canned chipotles. It toes the line of sweet and salty, with a slow-building heat that will level up any PB&J. 

The best part: It’s totally customizable. Not feeling berries? Peeled and chopped apples or pears can do the trick. Don’t have dried figs? Dried apricots or dates work in a snap. The nonnegotiable here is the canned chipotles in adobo: smoked, dried jalapeño peppers in an aromatic sauce. With its savory, smoky, distinctive heat, it’s irreplaceable. (Make this easy chili with the leftovers.)

La Costeña Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce

If PB&J isn’t your vibe, spoon this versatile jam over oatmeal or yogurt; use it in a speedy vinaigrette for salads; add it to marinades for proteins like chicken or pork. Basically anywhere that needs some sweet-spicy oomph. My personal favorite for an any-time snack: on a seedy slice of toast with a swoosh of butter

How to make Ashley Rouse’s Smoky Fruit Jam:

In a medium saucepan, combine a couple canned chipotle peppers (stick to 1 pepper if you’re a newbie, go up to 3 if you’re looking for more heat), a pint of roughly chopped strawberries, and a handful of dried figs. Set over low heat and simmer until the berries break down, the figs look hydrated, and the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, about 5–7 minutes. Stir continuously to avoid charred bits of fruit at the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat, let cool to room temperature, and then blend until smooth. Give it a try here—if it’s sweetened to your liking, you’re all set. If not, add a splash of agave syrup, honey, or maple syrup until it’s to your taste. The jam will thicken as it cools, and will last 5–7 days in a sealed jar in your fridge.  

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