We know that roasting veggies intensifies their flavors, mellows bitterness, and carmelizes the sugars. This is especially true for hot peppers. But what if you're not using whole peppers? What if all you have on hand for a recipe are dried, commercial chili powders?
Well, you can get much of the benefit of roasting by a quick toast in a dry, hot pan. What I've got going here, which I'll add to a pot of beans, is a mixture of ancho and cascabel powders. Even a commercial chili con carne chili mix is improved by a quick toast in a pan.
Just start with a heavy, dry pan. When the pan is hot, add the chili powders and stir. Keep the chilis moving so they don't burn. They're ready when they've darkened nicely.