Mole is a true melding of New World and Old World flavors. Think: chocolate, fruit and a number of spices. Chocolate gets the attention, but its flavor should never dominate. A properly done mole takes hours (sometimes even days) to prepare, with as many as 30 individual ingredients prepped in different ways. The ingredients are ground together into a powder or a paste that creates a seamless layering of complex flavors. In the final product, the sauce doesn’t taste like chocolate, or chili, or garlic, or cinnamon…it tastes like mole.
Ingredients vary according to the individual sauce, of course. Moles in general mix ingredients from five different categories: chiles (at least two different types); sour (tomatoes or tomatillos); sweet (dried fruits or sugar); spices; and thickeners (bread, nuts or seeds). Once the paste is formed, it’s mixed with water or broth, and then simmered until it’s thick. Mole is a thick, dense sauce—it should never be runny.