Skip to content

There’s nothing I like better than a big batch of mole, the famed Mexican sauce, spiked with chiles, spices, and a hint of dark, bitter chocolate.


Mole is excellent spooned over baked or poached chicken, and I’m especially fond of slathering it over a pot of crispy-cooked carnitas, too.

Mole Recipe

Recipes adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris (Broadway Books) by David Lebovitz
  • 5 dried ancho dried chiles
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, ground cloves, dried oregano, powdered cumin, ground coriander, ground anise seeds
  • 1/3 cup (55g) sliced almonds
  • 1-2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup (40g) raisins or diced prunes
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup (250ml) water, (or more as needed)
  • 1 oz (30g) unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • Remove the seeds and stems from the chiles and soak them in very hot water until soft, about 30 minutes or so. (Make sure they're submerged by setting a lightweight bowl on top of the chiles.) When softened, puree the chiles in a blender. If the skins are tough, you may want to pass the puree though a food mill or strainer.
  • In a small skillet, sauté onion in vegetable oil until soft and translucent. Add garlic and sauté another minute. Add spices and herbs and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds, being careful not to let them burn.
  • Add to the chile puree in the blender, the almonds, the cooked onions and garlic, tomatoes, raisins or prunes, sesame seeds, salt, pepper, water, and melted chocolate, then puree until smooth.
  • Add additional water, if necessary, until the consistency is smooth and slightly pourable.
  • Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make Chicken with Mole Sauce:

  • Begin with one chicken cut into six or eight portions. Brown the poultry pieces quite well in a large casserole in vegetable oil. Once browned, remove the chicken pieces from the pan and saute one chopped onion in the casserole and cook until translucent. Deglaze the casserole with some wine or stock, and scrape in any browned bits from the bottom with a flat wooden spatula.
  • Add the chicken back to the casserole along with a cinnamon stick or two, and add enough chicken stock, water, or white wine to cover chicken pieces. Cover the casserole, and gently simmer chicken until tender throughout.
  • Once cooked, remove chicken pieces from the liquid and arrange them in a shallow baking dish. Smear chicken pieces generously with mole and bake in a moderate oven, turning once or twice during baking, for about 30 minutes.Serve with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.

the sweet life in paris paperback



    • Squeezeweasel

    Where do you get anchos from in France? I had a nightmare buying non-generic chili peppers when I lived in Paris (only for six months, but my, I went to a lot of grocery shops) – do you use the food hall at Galeries Lafayette, or go to Porte d’Ivry and try the Vietnamese places?

    • Adrienne

    This mole sounds stupendous! The recipe will definitely be bookmarked to try in the future.

    • EP

    Oh! I am frugal too (also from my mom). I don’t know that I could get over the guilt of spending $240 on lunch. I should work on that. But it sure sounds/looks like it was delicious. And the molé… you’re the best, DL!

    • Jessica “Su Good Eats”

    I’m very frugal too. I’ve made cookies out of potato chip crumbs and granola out of soybean pulp (from homemade soy milk). But I’m willing to pay more for quality food.

    • Sarah Lou

    I just made a mole on my Nov. 01 post. I still have all those dried chilis and mexican chocolate hanging around and a few dried prunes from my basteeya (Prune blooging). I think I will make this!

    • Gail

    You spent $240 on just yourself? No one else? And then you give us a recipe for mole? Might you mention what you ate, perhaps?

    • David

    Hi Gail:
    We had about 7 to 9 courses, including the two that I showed here on the blog.

    We began with spoonfuls of a citrus mousse and little toasts with orange-scented butter. I can’t remember everything I had (although I was with a chef from California who took notes and my other friend took photos…), then we had turbot with a nut and garlic paste (I thought the turbot was tough and tasted like a kickboard, but everyone else liked it).
    There was a milk-fed pork with lovely wild mushrooms (there were wild mushrooms in just about every course, due to the season.) A ‘surprise’ soup was served, made of soaked bread crusts, that was yummy and reflected the chef’s origins as an Auvergnate, and another course of nicely chopped raw shrimp with a hot mushroom broth spooned over it. The shrimp tasted great although the hot liquid and the cold shrimp made the whole thing eventually a lukewarm soup (my chef friends really liked it, but I’m a tough customer, and found it to be a fault.)
    Oh yes, another course was a fabulous ‘cake’ made of raw white mushrooms and foie gras on a layer of crackly pastry with a tart citrus jell-like goo. Yummy!

    The first dessert was a spicy bird’s eye chile sorbet, whipped up in a Pacojet. Then there was a ‘cake’ built up of slices of raw apples and pears and a almond sabayon, served with a little shot of raspberry sorbet (which was a funny thing to serve alongside, but I liked them both). Then the last dessert course is shown in my post.

    I would have liked to have had some chocolate for dessert, even a little bite. I think all restaurants, even with fixed menus, should give you a bit of chocolate (like a truffle, or anything that’s just a mouthful.) Don’t you?

    All-in-all it was a lovely experience. Pricey, but considering the cost included all wine we drank, apertifs, water, coffee, service and tax, it was a treat. The staff could not have been nicer and more welcoming…without being solicitous (one thing I dislike in fancy restaurants) and the chef is young and we spoke with him in the tiny kitchen, stunned that all that amazing food come from such a little space.

    BTW: Astrance is booked through December 27 (my birthday!) since they only have 25 seats, but we just took the metro over there, used our charm, and got lucky!

    (My dinner that night was leftover pork shoulder with chocolate-mole…)

    • lindy

    Just my sort of frugality. As long as we don’t convince ourselves we are being supremely practical . Because it is entirely possible to go broke this way.Despite using up all the mayonaisse, or whatever!

    That being said, I think one of the reasons people eat so much sad, bad food, is that food is underpriced for the effort and time it takes to provide it. We are conditioned to expect artifically cheap food and other products, too. Only the shoddiest can be produced for what we are willing to pay.

    Basically, if we want better stuff, we have to be willing to have less of it, which is not a popular concept. Otherwise, craftspersons,small high-standard farmers and artisans will continue to be underpaid,and in danger of extinction, and we ordinary folk will continue to fill our homes with junky tv toys and nasty foodstuff.

    If I sometimes had $240 in uncommitted funds, I would certainly be tempted to do something similar with it from time to time!

    • Melissa (:


    • Fatemeh

    Oh, you poor boy.

    You really DO miss Mexican food, don’t you?

    • allison

    I have to stop lurking for a minute on this one! I live right around the corner from Astrance and have been wanting to go for some special celebration at some point over the next year. It sounds amazing! But is that their typical luncheon menu price? If so, not sure there will be any special event celebrated there anytime soon! Yikes!

    • Brett

    I suspect we will be reading about and seeing photos from Astrance on another website soon…. Your mole sounds delicious and authentic. Probably the best Mexican food ever cooked in Paris! Congrats!

    • David

    Allison: You live in the 16th, and can’t afford to eat at Astrance? That is one pricey neighborhood! When I went for lunch, they had a few options for fixed-priced menus, the least expensive being 70 euros and an “Autumn Menu” for 120 euros. We chose the 150 euro menu, although I bet if you tried the other ones, you’d still have a lovely experience (BTW: Even though they were booked solid, we arrived at 12 noon and they fortunately had 2 unbooked tables for lunch, so since you’re already in the neighborhood, perhaps you outta introduce yourself!)

    • Jill

    looking for ancho chilis in Paris. can you help?

    • katiek

    Hi David,

    First time comment!

    Anyways, I am making black mole. I was trying to browse through your archives because I saw that you work with a lot of chocolate.

    I have some raw cacao bean and I was hoping to grind rustic cakes and add it to my moles as the mayans do.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    • David

    Hi Katiek: You can find plenty of information about making your own chocolate from beans at Chocolate Alchemy. In the upper right of his site, he lists each step to making bean-to-bar chocolate at home.

    Good luck with your stash of beans!

    • Katie Kwan

    WOW… Slightly overwhelmed and totally tickled giddy. It reminds me of when I chanced upon the book Soybeans: Chemistry, Technology, and Utilization while researching home brewed soy sauce…

    I have a feeling that this will be labor intensive — I do regale a challenge.


    • crhouse

    Hmmm. I went to start making this dish, and can’t find where I’m supposed to use the chopped, peeled tomatoes. Am I just missing something?

    They get added and blended with the ingredients. Thanks! -dl

    • Cassidy Stockton

    Made this for the first time yesterday, though I did use the recipe from your book- not this version. I was a little intimidated, but thought I would give it a go. I had all the ingredients purchased for about a month before I actually tried it… I wish I would have tried it sooner! It was delicious and so easy to make (relatively speaking). I’d been wanting to try my hand at making my own mole and now have a go-to recipe for the future. Thank you!! (Also quite pleased to see that Bob’s was listed as a resource for product- thanks!!)

    • Jesus

    Hi David! great recipe, so close to one of many varieties used here… in Mexico, i read that you visited Mexico…exactly Merida, take a little time to visit Puebla, where the Mole Its from, =) is the best mole of the world =) , there are like one hundred varieties

    • David

    Hi Jesus: Yes, I’ve had a fair number of Moles, but not enough! I think I need to spend more time in Mexico : )


Get David's newsletter sent right to your Inbox!


Sign up for my newsletter and get my FREE guidebook to the best bakeries and pastry shops in Paris...