This summer Dunkin’ Donuts heated things up by introducing new Hot & Spicy menu items including the Hot & Spicy Breakfast Sandwich and the Hot & Spicy Wake-Up Wrap®. Both of these unique breakfast items include a spicy omelet featuring jalapeno peppers, red bell peppers and pepper jack cheese with habanero. With all the excitement surrounding these delicious spicy products, we wanted to know more about spicy foods and the culinary trend we’re seeing with them so I sat down with Stan Frankenthaler, Executive Chef and Vice President of Global Product Innovation, to learn more about working with spicy foods and the creation of DD’s Hot & Spicy breakfast offerings.
Are spicy foods rising in popularity?
There is a large percentage of people who are seeking out bold flavors and spicy foods and exploring ethnic cuisines. While there are still people who aren’t as adventurous as these eaters, we wanted to create these Hot & Spicy menu items for the growing group of people who are looking for bold and spicy options. We embraced the polarity spice can create and developed a wonderful flavor appeal with our Hot & Spicy offerings for our guests to enjoy.
What is it that actually makes a food spicy?
What makes chilies hot is a compound called capsaicin that is found in all chilies and peppers to different degrees. This compound is part of the plant’s natural defense if you will, but also it’s an attractant to some. It is most concentrated on the interior of the chili around the seeds, and you should always wear vinyl gloves when prepping them as capsaicin is easily spread by contact. Translate that into: don’t rub your eyes and scratch your cheek until after the prep is done, the gloves are in the trash and you wash your hands.
How is spiciness measured?
The degree of heat a chili delivers is measured in Scoville units. The scale is named after its creator, American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville. It’s been the measure for about 100 years and is based on the premise of dilution – so the scale represents how many times you would have to dilute a chili’s “heat” to render it neutral. A sweet bell pepper has a Scoville measure of 0 units – no heat at all so no dilution needed. Whereas a Habanero or a Scotch Bonnet may have 200,000 to 300,000 Scoville Units, meaning you would need to dilute 200,000 – 300,000 times to experience “no heat.” The Naga Chili, one of the hottest chilies, measures approximately 1,000,000 units!
How did you create Hot & Spicy omelet?
We created several variations of the spicy omelet itself, as well as the sandwich build. We worked with different chilies to determine the best flavor combinations and the right level of heat. We also considered many different options for the sandwich build, including a variety of bagels such as the Jalapeño Bagel. Finally, with the help of our guest feedback, we arrived at a sandwich that consists of an omelet that is spiced with jalapeño peppers and red bell peppers and pepper jack cheese with habanero, served with cherrywood smoked bacon and a slice of cheddar cheese to deliver a different level of heat and flavor as well as some creaminess. The sandwich is available on a Dunkin’ Donuts Bagel or Wake-Up Wrap®.
What types of spicy foods do you enjoy?
I really like heat and chilies, but I also need layers of flavor. I love South East Asian and Indian dishes that can be very hot and spicy, and still have fragrance, sweetness, acidity and all the other flavor aspects that create a truly rounded dish.