Foods that combine sweet and savory elements are delicious, including everything from sweets like salted caramels to the diner favorite of fried chicken and waffles. I love the contrast between sugar and salt, sweet and savory. That being said, I wasn’t sure what to think when I saw Trader Joe’s Vermont Ghosted Maple Syrup on the shelf the last time I visited the store. Ghost peppers are one of the hottest chilis in the world and, while I like some heat, they’re far too hot for me. But I was game to give the pepper-infused syrup a try anyway and brought a bottle home with me.
The syrup is pure Vermont maple syrup and the ghost pepper is added using a ghost pepper extract, made with alcohol and real ghost peppers. The advantage to using an extract instead of simply adding some peppers to a bottle of syrup is that each batch will have the same heat level. You also won’t end up with any sediment in the bottle when the flavoring is added using an extract. Since ghost peppers are so hot, consistency is vital for this product.
The syrup is HOT. Very hot. It is sweet the moment it hits your tongue, but then the chili hits and leaves you with a strong and long burning heat. Like any hot sauce, it will get spicier the more you eat, so keep that in mind as you are pouring more onto your food. This syrup is not meant to be sampled on its own; it is meant to be served with savory dishes like barbecue and fried chicken, where you can blend sweet, hot and savory all together in every bite. It pairs well with breakfast sausages, but not with pancakes. It is amazing with fried chicken and waffles, but you might not want it with waffles alone. You can get surprisingly creative with the syrup if you are willing to think outside the box a bit. That said, this syrup probably won’t be your cup of tea if you’re not a fan of some heat to begin with, however it is sure to be a hit for those who like it hot.