Moles and Pipianes/

Susana’s Black Mole

This recipe is adapted from My Search for the Seventh Mole by Susana Trilling.

From Season 9, Mexico—One Plate At A Time

Servings: 12


  • 5 chile chilhuacle negro (1 ½ ounces)
  • 5 chile guajillo (1 ounce)
  • 4chile pasilla mexicano (1 ounce)
  • 4chile ancho negro or mulato (2 ounces)
  • 2 chile chipotle meco (1/4 ounce)
  • 1medium white onion, quartered
  • 1/2small head of garlic, cloves separated
  • 2heaping tablespoons almonds
  • 2tablespoons shelled and skinned raw peanuts
  • 1 inchMexican cinnamon (canela)
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2tablespoons oil
  • 1 1/2tablespoons raisins
  • 1slice slice of bread, preferably challah or an egg bread
  • 1small ripeplantain, cut into ½-inch slices (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2cup sesame seeds
  • 2 pecan halves
  • 1/2pound (1 medium-large round or 4 to 5 plum)ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1/4pound (2 to 3 medium) freshtomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into chunks
  • 1sprig fresh thyme, or ¼ teaspoon dried
  • 1sprigMexican oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 5generous cups light chicken stock
  • 2tablespoonslard or oil
  • 6ouncesMexican chocolate
  • 2dried avocado leaves
  • Salt


Rinse the chiles quickly in running water, and remove all stems, veins and seeds. Reserve the seeds. Heat 2 quarts of water in a kettle. In a large griddle, comal or frying pan, toast the chiles over medium heat until black, but not burnt, about 10 minutes. Place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with the hot water to soak for 30 minutes. When the chiles are soft, remove the chiles from the soaking water with tongs, placing small batches in a blender with ½ cup of the chile soaking water (or more if needed) to blend smooth. Pass the chile puree through a food mill or strainer to remove the skins.

In the same dry griddle, comal or frying pan, roast the onion and garlic over medium heat for 10 minutes. Set aside. Toast the almonds, peanuts, the cinnamon stick, peppercorns and cloves on the same pan for about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan.

Over the same heat, toast the chile seeds, taking care to blacken but not burn them, about 20 minutes. Try to do this outside or in a well-ventilated place because the seeds will give off very strong fumes. When they are completely black, light them with a match and let them burn themselves out. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl. Soak the blackened seeds in 1 cup of cold water for 10 minutes. Drain the seeds and cover them with more water. Let them soak another 15 minutes more, then strain them. Grind them in a blender for about 2 minutes with ½ cup of water. Strain them through a medium-mesh strainer. Add the blended chile seeds to the blended chile mixture.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the raisins and fry them until they are plump, approximately 1 minute. Remove from pan. Fry the bread slices in the same oil until browned, about 5 minutes; remove from pan. Fry the plantain in the same oil until it is well-browned, approximately 10 minutes, and set aside.

In a separate frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil and fry the sesame seeds, stirring constantly over low heat, adding salt if they start jumping around too much. When the sesame seeds start to brown, about 5 minutes, add the pecans and brown 2 minutes more. Remove all from the pan, let cool, and grind finely in a spice grinder or a powerful blender with ½ cup stock. The spice grinder takes a bit of time, but this is the only way to grind the seeds and nuts finely enough. The mixture should be very smooth.

Wipe out the frying pan and fry the tomatoes, tomatillos, thyme and oregano, over medium to high heat, allowing the juices to almost evaporate, about 15 minutes. Blend well, using ½ cup stock if needed to blend and set aside.

In the blender, in small batches if necessary, place the nuts, bread, plantains, raisins, onion, garlic and spices. Blend well, adding about 1 cup chicken stock to make it smooth.
In a large cazuela or stock pot, heat 2 tablespoons of lard or oil until smoking and fry the chile paste over medium to low heat, stirring constantly so it will not burn, approximately 20 minutes. When it is “bubbling furiously,” add the tomato puree and fry until the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Add the ground ingredients, including the sesame seed paste, to the pot. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until well incorporated, about 20 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken stock, stir well, and allow to cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Break up the chocolate and add to the pot, stirring until it is melted and incorporated into the mixture.

Toast the avocado leaves briefly over the flame if you have a gas range, or in a dry frying pan and add to the pot. Slowly add more stock to the sauce—it will keep thickening as it cooks. Continue to cook for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Add stock as it thickens. The more time it has to cook the better. There should be no gritty texture (from the seeds), which will cook out over time. Add enough salt to bring out the flavors. If you can only taste the chiles, you need more salt. The mole should not be thick, just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.


  1. thanks for the recipe for mole negro! cant wait to make, but where can I get the main ingredient that makes it negro (chilhuacle, where can I buy such a pepper or which can I sub for) would appreciate your response

    1. Well stocked Mexican Markets should have them. If they do not there are a number of spice sellers online that have them

  2. Can you say any more about how you use this mole? Would you need to serve it with a meat? What’s the traditional meal it goes with???

    1. Hello Ruth –
      The mole is traditionally served with meat. You can ladle it over grilled chicken breasts or quail, roasted short ribs or brisket, or even over grilled vegetables. Although – since I have the benefit of working above Frontera Grill (and access to our version of black Mole 5 days a week!) I sometimes just order a side of mole and fresh tortillas for lunch and dip the tortillas in the mole.

      Bottom line – is this will be delicious with whatever you serve it with!

  3. Hi Katy, a friend brought me back some beautful looking dark mole paste purchased at a market in Merida, Yucatan. I’m a little unsure how to use it. Do I dilute it w/ stock, do I cook it down and simply serve it over chicken? I’d like a few suggestions.

    1. Dear Dan, just noticed nobody answered your question about the “recado negro” paste from the Yucatan. I’m in the Yucatan the last seven years. The black paste is usually not as complex as traditional “mole”. Here it’s used to make a Mayan chicken soup called chimole (thus the confusion), or a Similar version called “relleno negro” which is thickened with corn flour, and served with stewed chicken pieces, a chunk of boiled pork meatloaf, a slice of boiled egg, then garnished with Yucatan style pickled red onions, a drizzle of cream, and a few dots of roasted tomato sauce. The black spice mix is mostly blackened, roasted habanero chili with onion and garlic. Whereas, a true mole is usually quite complex using fruits, nuts, herbs, seeds, chili, and chocolate.
      There’s a Yucatan “recado rojo” which means red spice paste, that also is not actually a mole. Like the black paste, it’s simply a spice blend made in the traditional style before we had dehydration and spice jars, etc. The red version is mostly made of achiote seeds and various condiments. It’s often used to grill chicken or in cochinita pibil (little roast pig), a famous local tradition.
      All of these recados are mixed into bitter orange juice with onions,and used as a meat marinade , added to season chicken stock for soups or gravies, and creatively in a variety of recipes from pibes (a Yucatan chicken pot pie made with corn mass in an underground oven), to grilled fish. Note that the local women often have ancient family recipes for their personal spice mix. It could be a simple three ingredients, it as complex as the well known mole.
      I hope this helps. I recommend looking for recipes that say “Yucatan” for ways to use your recado negro. “Provecho!” = Enjoy!

  4. Hi! I just tried making this. The color came out lighter than I was expecting, like a milk chocolate color. Is that how it is supposed to be? The finished sauce also had a slightly burnt taste. Any thoughts on if/where I might have gone wrong?? Thanks! Aaron

    1. Hi Aaron –
      I would toast your chiles slightly less, and possibly add more sugar at the end to adjust the seasoning, I would also toast the nuts and bread more and fry the paste more. Hope this helps!

  5. Absolutely wonderful! A while back I ordered chilhuacle negro seeds just so I could make this… the wait was worth it.

  6. How do you toast the chiles seeds so they turn black without burning/charring them? I could not get my darkened toasted chili seeds to catch fire. I also don’t understand how you blend them with the water as my chili seeds would not break down into a paste. You put these blackened/burnt chili seeds into your blended four chili mixture? How does this affect the texture? I finished this mole but had a mahogany colored mole like Aaron above.

  7. This is fabulous! A few notes for those willing/wanting to make this. I couldn’t find all of the 5 different chiles, so I followed advise from a different recipe and used more guajillo, ancho, and papilla (in the same proportions). Toasting the chile seeds: I was not able to get the seeds to catch fire and the seeds did not break up in the spice blender, but did make a very thick paste. I did not use chicken broth for any of the blending–I used the soaking water from the seeds and chiles. I put everything through a food mill after blending. I took my cast iron skillet outside to the fireplace and toasted everything there.
    Friends said it was the best mole they have ever tasted. Next year we are going to prepare this communally.

  8. Hi All

    Thanks ever so much for posting this recipe. I’ve made it a few times now. One quick comment for the gadget hounds out there.

    I invested in one of the Indian wet / dry grinders. (Essentially a motorized granite millstone). It makes the entire preparation MUCH MUCH easier. My vitamix used to struggle trying to make mole (especially over the plantains) The wet/dry grinder takes more time, but its quieter, never runs into trouble, and produces a much finer product (pun intended)

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