New Jersey-based Heartbreaking Dawns pride themselves as the premier producer of all-natural artisan sauces and spice blends in the Tri-State Area, so naturally they were the first local brand of hot sauces that we’re going to test. This is a new project for us, in the longer quest of finding the best New Jersey sauces.
HBD (as they shorten their name) was started by Johnny McLaughlin and his wife in 2008, when they decided to transform their hobby of making home-made hot sauces into a business idea. They did their research, tried their products at local festivals, and slowly build their lines of sauces based on jalapeno, habanero and later scorpion.
Regarding the methodology used in tasting, we’re going to use french fries, chicken fingers or boneless wings, and tortilla chips, to dip into the sauces. To extinguish the fire we’re using both yogurt/milk (the recommended method) and beer (our endorsed method). So here are my impressions of the four HBD sauces I’ve tested.
- Jalapeno Pineapple: Has an easy mild taste, but not a strong flavor, should be good with meats.
- Mango Habanero: It has a sweet taste, quite a tropical flavor. It’s also a bit light and easily edible, and would be usually recommended with seafood. I don’t usually like the taste of mango, but this habanero combination was good.
- Classic Gold Habanero: Now we’re starting to talk about heat. This was much stronger, a classic flavor with the perfect amount of hotness for your barbeques. Also went very well with my chicken fingers.
- 1498 Trinidad Scorpion: Finally, the flagship product from Heartbreaking Dawns, who was the first commercial US producer of scorpion pepper sauces. It should be noted that on the Scoville scale of hotness, while jalapeno is 9,000, cayenne is 50,000 and habanero is around 150,000, the scorpion peppers are rated between 900,000 – 1,400,000. So we’re talking about real heat here. First, a burn on your tongue, and a few seconds later you feel like a scorpion is biting your throat. A very strong sensation, but without completely overwhelming the food. HBD mixes in apricots and carrots, for a pleasant flavor, and a really top-of-the-line hot sauce.
This was a very pleasant experience of tasting some heat, and more than an hour later I was still sweating a bit. My wife even made fun of me that while I looked like I’m in some kind of pain, I kept rubbing my food in the sauces – that was after the official tasting; eventually nothing was left on the sauce plate. The truth is that after tasting the scorpion, nothing else felt too spicy any more.
Heartbreaking Dawns is also involved in organizing a very exciting event, the first ever NJ Taco Festival, which will take place on September 12 at the Sussex County Fairgrounds. It sounds like a fun day, with tacos, tequila, beer, lucha, mariachi and more. We’ll post more about this as the date gets closer.
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