Chef Johnny McLaughlin, founder of Heartbreaking Dawns Artisan Foods LLC, the award-winning hot sauce company based in Wyckoff, NJ, knows how to bring on the heat, from creating subtle waves of gentle warmth on the palate to unleashing fiery lashes on the tongue.
“Hot sauce isn’t just for chili and its power comes in the form of building layers of flavors through pepper blends. Its image has changed dramatically in recent years as heat fans celebrate its powers of delivering potent umami or a deeper dimension of taste to dishes both savory and sweet,” said McLaughlin.
Heartbreaking Dawns was formed four years ago when the self-taught chef and his wife Nicole had a bumper crop of their backyard chili pepperbushes and blended them into an array of hot sauces for family and friends. Combining a variety of peppers possessing ascending heat levels, tropical fruits and spices, McLaughlin went commercial in 2009, aggressively developing three hot sauces, which would quickly catch fire in the Hudson Valley community.
“Hot sauce, when used properly, can lend a quiet, warm perfume of earthy and floral notes or ratchet up the ‘meatiness’ of any number of sauces, protein blends, dressings and even ice creams. Once you know how to use it, hot sauce becomes the home cook’s best friend,” said McLaughlin.
The original three Heartbreaking Dawns creations, starting at $6.99, include Jalapeno Pineapple, Classic Gold, and Mango Habanero. McLaughlin added fresh fruits to lightly sweeten the taste of traditional hot sauce, providing new hints of flavor to compliment the featured pepper. There are now 11 flavors total including the big three, some of which are Supershots, Chocolate Habanero, Ghost Pepper, Trinidad Scorpion, and CAUTERIZER Trinidad Scorpion, all using fruit, spice and pepper extracts to deliver a range of earthy and floral notes or deep chocolate tones.
Chef Johnny’s Tips for Using Hot Sauce to Add Seduction through Heat:
•Blend Heartbreaking Dawns Tomato-Based Classic Gold with some ketchup followed by fresh basil and Parmesan to top any slider.
•Add Jalapeno Pineapple to mayo to make it sweet and spicy. Finish off the slider with shredded cabbage and goat cheese.
•Mix Mango Habanero with mustard. Top this slider with kimchi and friend onions.
•Combine Chocolate Habanero Sauce with some crème fraiche. Polish it off with some melted New York sharp cheddar and pickle.
•Perfect for brunch: get creative by adding various hot sauces to your favorite Bloody Mary mix.
•What better way to kick back than with Electric Lemonade? Add Heartbreaking Dawns pear and apple-based Ghost Sauce to bring out delicious bursts of flavor. Muddle in fresh cilantro for a finishing touch.
•Leave out the vermouth. Instead, try lining your next martini glass with a sweet, fruit-based hot sauce.