Here’s a Pairing Guide
Done well, pairings take two separate tastes and combine them into a single elevated experience. You know cheese and wine pair well. You know wine and chocolate go together. So logic suggests that cheese and chocolate go together. And it turns out they do.
One is traditionally savory. The other traditionally sweet. Alone, they count among our favorite indulgences. Together they transform into a flavor explosion in your mouth.
The hint of salt in cheese perfectly balances the roasty saltiness of chocolate. Add a glass of champagne, and you’ve created a savory-sweet love connection that will make any foodie’s heart race.
If you’ve never paired cheese with chocolate before, here are some tips to assist:
- Pair by flavor intensity: A robust dark chocolate needs the concentrated, intense flavors of an aged cheese to avoid being overwhelmed. A milder, younger, buttery cheese can pair with a lighter milkier chocolate.
- Pair based on complementary flavors. Dark chocolate is bitter and fruity. Pair it with a fruity Taleggio. A sweet, creamy milk chocolate brings out the natural sweetness in a cheese like a Gorgonzola Dolce.
- Pair based on contrasting flavors and textures. Milk chocolate can be very sweet, which makes it a good foil for tangy cheeses like Robiola. It’s also a good pair for the saltiness in a Pecorino Romano.
- Add some Texture. Cheese is typically soft or crumbly so look for chocolates that add a contrasting texture. Think about chocolate-covered toffee, caramels or espresso beans or chocolate with dried fruit, nuts or candies.
DIY Chocolate-Cheese Pairing
We can’t imagine a better Valentine’s Day evening than a do-it-yourself chocolate and cheese pairing, with champagne and candles of course.
Just remember. There are no rules or wrong answers when pairing chocolate with cheese. If it tastes good to you, the pairing works. The real fun is to just start experimenting. And what better excuse to eat more chocolate and cheese?
A couple tips as you embark: First, try the cheese first and then the chocolate. Second, don’t forget to smell. Remember that, on average, 80% of our flavor experience is based on smell, not taste.
Some Shortcut Tips
- The best chocolates to pair with cheese have a bit of fruitiness
- Fresh Cheese: A fresh chevre has a higher acid level that pairs nicely with a creamy milk chocolate or a dark chocolate with orange or raspberry flavor.
- Washed-Rind Cheese: These are the stinky cheeses with the orange rinds. Try them with a dark chocolate with raisings or nuts either in the chocolate or on the side. A little bit of honey will also help create a balanced pairing.
- Triple Crème Cheese: A Mexican-style dark chocolate with a little chili heat will help balance the butterfat. We particularly like the locally produced Dead Dog Chocolate.
- Aged Cheese: Dark chocolate pairs with almost any cheese, but goes particularly well with more complex, aged cheeses. A spicy chocolate is also good with an aged, sharp cheese.
- Brie/Buttery Cheese: Sweet milk chocolate likes buttery cheeses like Brie.
- Sheep’s Milk Cheese: Nuttier chocolates go well with cheeses that are high in butterfat, think sheep’s milk cheeses (e.g. Manchego, Invierno).
Want a sample road map? Here are the pairings we’ll be serving at our Bubbles, Cheese + Chocolate pairing class tonight.
- Jasper Hills Alpha Tolman + Fruition Brown Butter Milk C hocolate
- Vermont Shepherd’s Invierno + Madecasse Salted Almond
- Gorgonzola Dolce + Original Beans Bene Wild Harvest
- Delice de Bourgogne + Valrhona Manjari
- Humboldt Fog + Helliemae’s Whiskey Love Bomb Caramel
Cheese Tray with Valentine’s Day Style
We aren’t not going to suggest that cheese is an aphrodisiac, but we will say that creating an amazing tray of artisan cheeses and cured meats is a pretty easy way to show your Valentine that you love him/her and want them to have GOOD FOOD on this special night.
- Ask us for champagne friendly cheeses (Because you will have champagne with dinner, right?)
- Skip the veggies, pickled items and salumi we might normally suggest for a cheese tray and replace them with chocolate chunks and fresh fruit, maybe some nuts. (We can offer suggestions)
Get more DIY tips on building the perfect cheese tray (how early to take it out, what else to serve with it and more) at our blog.