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This guest post was submitted by Truly Experiences, a website that sells experiences for people who collect memories, not stuff.
The moment we sink our teeth into fine chocolate, allowing it to melt onto our tongue, we taste heavenly happiness. Whilst some may say, why ruin a good thing with a pairing, we believe there’s no reason to limit your flavour experience!
Lean in a bit closer as we divulge the insider secrets on how to transform your dreary chocolate pairings into something truly phenomenal.
1 Begin with the classics
If you are sceptical or new to the world of chocolate pairing, introducing flavours like citrus and nuts are a great place to start. Whether it’s orange, lime, lemon or grapefruit, the sharp zing of citrus perfectly balances the chocolate.
We’re nuts about pairing with nuts! Almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts are all high in fat, which brings out the cacao’s flavour profile. Choosing either of these chocolate companions will bring you tried and tested happiness.
2 Meet flavour with flavour
As a general rule of thumb, the goal in any pairing is balance and harmony. It’s important to match the cacao percentage to flavour intensity, so one ingredient doesn’t overpower the other.
Using this as a guideline, try bold flavours like blue cheese with a bitter 85% chocolate.
3 Winning with wine
Chocolate and wine have lots in common. Just as wine varieties depend on their region, the flavour profile of a cacao bean is much the same. The higher the percentage of cacao, the more full-bodied the red wine you can pair with it.
For the best wine chocolate pairing experience, take a small sip of wine first. After a few seconds, bite the dark chocolate and allow it to warm up on the palate. Then more wine. And then more chocolate of course!
4 Lift your spirits
Much like wine, we often forget how much chocolate and spirits like each other. Be careful when pairing to ensure there is a balance of flavour. If you’re having a strong bitter chocolate, you’d need a sweeter spirit to compensate.
Look for alcohol that is low in tannins and acidity as chocolate contains both of these elements. Remember balance is what we are after.
5 Too sweet is sour
Pairing two sweet things together results in a very sour outcome - literally and figuratively. The sugar level in the chocolate needs to be balanced with the paired ingredient.
For example, a dark chocolate can be paired with a rosé wine. However, a sweet white chocolate which is high in sugar would make the rosé appear sour.
Whilst some pairings make sense, others are harder to imagine. With the exception of acidic white wine and oysters (gross), we say keep an open mind and mouth.
Cacao has more than 600 different flavour compounds, meaning it’s the perfect accompaniment to various foods, beverages, herbs and spices. We say enter the universe of chocolate pairings and don’t be afraid to experiment.
7 Play with texture
Chocolate is versatile, so it can be paired with anything on the crunchy-to-smooth spectrum. With that said, mimicking the soft velvety chocolate texture can work phenomenally well.
Bare with us and try creamy Brie or mango! The combination of mild, creamy and intense make for a beautifully balanced pairing that will explode on the palate.
8 Cooking with Chocolate
Perhaps unconventional, but adding chocolate to savoury dishes is another way to explore different flavours. Dark chocolate adds richness and a new depth of flavour to a dish. Try adding a square or two next time you cook chilli con carne.
It’s important to consider cacao percentage and temperature when cooking. For savoury dishes, we’d recommend above 65% or higher. Temperature is key, as chocolate is easily burned!
Basically, if you are not cooking with chocolate, you’re missing out. Dial-up a barbecue sauce with chocolate or drizzle it over pork tenderloin. You can even crank up your mashed potatoes by replacing the butter with chunks of a high percentage white chocolate!
Yes, we could eat chocolate on its own all day long, but it’s one of those foods that’s catapulted into another flavour universe when paired well. Follow these simple tips to turn your chocolate pairing from blah to phenomenal!
Thank you to Truly Experiences for sending us this article. Be sure to check out their website as they stock a variety of chocolate making, chocolate tasting, and chocolate pairing experiences.
Do you have any other tips on pairing chocolate with food or drink? Let us know in the comments below.