Mole Day Tribute Noms: Avogadro’s Mole

A mole [mōl] is a unit of measurement in chemistry. A Mole [ˈmō-lay] is the name for a category of thick, dark brownish red sauce used in Mexican cuisine as well as the name for dishes that utilize this sauce.

The great thing about a Mole sauce is your recipe doesn’t need to be exact. A Mole sauce is a *type* of sauce, with some general characteristics, but the exact specifics are up for interpretation. Have you ever wondered how some people can look into a seemingly empty fridge and pantry and somehow come up with the ingredients for an amazing 5 course meal? It’s because they understand how ingredient substitutes work. What a great Mole sauce needs is a few non-negotiable ingredients such as oil, onions and garlic, cumin, and chili peppers, and a few more flexible ingredients such as a tomato product, a liquid ingredient, your choice of various green/dark/red spices to make your mole more or less green, brown, or red, a chocolate ingredient, and a whole group of additional ingredients that give your mole sauce its distinct individual flavor.

In honor of Mole Day and Avogadro’s Number [6.0221415 × 1023], The Nerdista presents your chance to create some kitchen chemistry with this Mole recipe presented chemistry style. Ready for some culinary science? Here we go!


-1 Tablespoon olive oil
-1 small onion, finely chopped
-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
-1 teaspoon cumin
-approximately 4 oz. canned or fresh chili peppers, chopped: ancho, chipotle, pasilla, and or mulato (quantity according to spice tolerance)

Choose one tomato product from the following list of ingredients:
-1 can chopped tomatoes,  1 can condensed tomato soup, 1 & 1/4 cup plain marinara sauce, 1 & 1/4 tomato bruschetta, 1 can tomato sauce OR 1 can tomato paste plus 1 can chicken broth, or other similar tomato product you keep on hand.

Choose one liquid ingredient:
-chicken broth or chicken stock (TheNerdista always prefers chicken stock but feel free to use what you have on hand.) The amount you use depends on how much liquid you gained from the tomato product of your choice and how many dry ingredients you chose to add. Tomato products with high moisture content need closer to a cup and will require about 10 minutes simmer time. Drier tomato products will need closer to 3 cups and will require about 30 minutes simmer time.

Choose one of the following chocolate ingredients:
-1 Tablespoon dark chocolate cocoa powder, 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 2-4 oz. dark chocolate bar – chopped, or 1-2 squares bakers chocolate* [*If you chose a less sweet form of chocolate or want a slightly sweeter Mole, add 2 teaspoons brown sugar]

For more green mole, add one or both of the following green spices:
-1 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. dried cilantro

For more brown mole, add as many or as few of the following dark spices:
-1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp anise

For more red mole, add as many or as few of the following spices:
-2-5 tablespoons chili powder, 1/8 tsp. cayenne powder, 1/8 tsp paprika.
Vary amounts based on your heat tolerance.

Completely optional ingredients you can use to season to taste. List is not exhaustive:
-salt, sesame seeds, raisins, dates, or seedless grapes (finely ground), 1 bay leaf (removed prior to serving), your favorite nut, ground (pine nut, peanut, walnut, etc.), pumpkin or squash seeds, ground, etc.


Saute the oil, onions, garlic, a dry spices (except optional brown sugar) over medium heat till onions are soft. Add chilies, tomato product, and liquid ingredient.

Bring mole to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10-30 minutes or until the liquid in the sauce has reduced to a thick consistency. (Think enchilada sauce.)

If your mole is still too liquid for your taste even after it has reduced, you may stir in 1-3 tablespoons of flour to thicken the mixture.

Finally, remove from heat and immediately add your chocolate ingredient. Mix well. Season to taste with additional pepper and or salt.

Serve on top of your favorite cooked meat, poultry, or fish of your choice. Mole can also be used as a marinade or cooking sauce. Vegetarians and Vegans can even use this sauce on vegetables and other non-animal products.


Love, The Nerdista

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