Volcanic Peppers is a company owned by Timothy Bader and based in Omaha. They have made their name known with their range of chile powders called Volcano Dust, made from the hottest smoked and dried peppers.
Now the company also produces and sells Hot Garlic ‘n Onion which is a new powder mix, plus Scorpion Stinger Caramels and two sauces: Lava BBQ Sauce which comes in Spicy and Hot Scorpion versions, and finally the one reviewed today: their first hot sauce called Lava Chocolate Lightning.
I discovered their powders last year and immediately became a fan of their awesome smokey taste and good heat, which can be very high if you dared to taste the Smoked Scorpion Dust or the 7 Pot Douglah Dust. Also, knowing that Lava Chocolate Lightning was made with a chocolate Habanero mash and a custom dust blend, I really wanted to try this hot sauce, and I have not been disappointed.
Lava Chocolate Lightning was tasted by itself, and with some chinese dumplings Jiao Zi.
White Vinegar (Distilled), Chocolate Habanero Chiles, Garlic, Chile Pepper Powder (Smoked Habanero, Bhut Jolokia, Moruga Scorpion), Sugar, Salt, Xanthan Gum and Lemon Extract.
4 out of 5. Once opened there is a very nice aroma of smoked and garlic, the vinegary smell is not too strong, nice blend. This mix of smoked and garlic made me remember the smell of a smoked garlic sausage very common in France called “Saucisson à l’ail fumé”, the kind of smell to immediately make you hungry, and that’s what happened here with the sauce. You smell it and your mind is racing thinking about different recipes you can use this hot sauce with.
Consistency and Appearance:
3.5 out of 5. It has a thin liquid consistency, and a red/caramel brown colour, finely blended, with some small particles most of the chocolate habanero mash, and some powder from the custom blend. I would think that it’s maybe just a little bit too runny.
Something interesting to mention is that the bottle is equipped with a restrictor cap inserted on the opening, which is very convenient to dose out the amount of sauce needed and to keep your bottle clean especially the inside of the cap. Even if at first sight I thought that it would limit my use of it, I finally came to the conclusion that it was a good thing.
4 out of 5. It is really pleasant. The heat from the peppers came first, followed by a garlicky taste and a smokey flavour both staying for a lengthy amount of time. The final tones I caught were of a light lemon flavour with a bit of salt.
The whole blend has a good equilibrium; the vinegar is of a good quality and not too strong, not agressive at all and did not leave an acidic taste that’s usually quite distasteful.
4 out of 5. Not an extreme sauce but it has a good heat, you can feel directly from the beginning a burning, tingling sensation in the tongue, and the heat increases suddenly in the throat and stays long in the mouth. There is the heat from the Chocolate Habanero base, which is boosted by the powder blend using some Bhut Jolokia and Moruga Scorpion chiles; but as they are not used in high quantity, the heat is very negotiable and you don’t have to fear those superhot peppers.
3 out of 5. I appreciate the drawing and creativity in the company logo, concerning the whole label there’s the typical colour shade as in their BBQ sauces, here with a nice orange and black one. We can see some lava running down a lightning volcano with “Lava” written in fiery letters. The fact is, the drawing is “funny”, whereas some other brands may have something more serious (it’s just a matter of choice in terms of brand image), but this one seems a bit simple and even somewhat childish or amateurish. The text uses most of the label space. I may think the label design will be redesigned sometime in the future; but for now the focus and investment has been made on the sauce quality itself, and there is no doubt about it – this is a high quality sauce.
I would suggest using it with all kind of grilled meats as its smokey taste invites for BBQ, it also would be great with burgers too. I imagine some others good matches too, with some fried products like squid rings or even onion rings as a dipping sauce, or with fried fish. It also would be great with some sauteed vegetables with some roasted bell peppers and onions.
As from this test is with dumplings from Asia, I would suggest to use it just before serving some sauteed noodles.
Well, we have here a very tasty and high quality product. If you have enjoyed Volcano Dust range for the quality of these smoked and hot powders, you will find in this sauce the same spirit with its nice smokey flavour and an enjoyable garlicky touch.
The choice to test this sauce with some Chinese dumplings may seems to be a bit special, the fact is Jiao Zi are traditionally dipped in a sweet vinegar sauce (with some chilli pepper oil added in Shaanxi province), and in Chinese cuisine garlic is often combined with hot pepper, that may be the reason why this sauce has been a good match here.
This hot sauce is now part of my favorites, and I am very glad to have bought this sauce from Tim, who happens to be a very nice person in addition to his talent as sauce and powder maker.