Chocolate pairing: which chocolate to choose?

Chocolate is a versatile ingredient you can combine with many others. Here are some pairings that are easy to make at home. Try out these pairings but also understand why they work from an aromatic point of view.

Chocolate contains about more than 1500 different aroma molecules and therefore has a rich flavour profile. During its production process (fermentation, roasting, …) most chocolates develop caramel, roasted and fruity aromas. That is why the combination of chocolate & fruits (sharing fruity aromas) or chocolate and nuts (sharing roasted aromas) is so commonly known.

However, Foodpairing is not about the classics, right? Vegetables, cheeses, vinegars or even meats and seafood can be paired with chocolate as well! It all starts with finding the right chocolate.

The origin of the cocoa beans will make each chocolate and its pairing possibilities unique. A chocolate lover who really wants to get the best out of his chocolate pairings will work with authentic origin chocolates. Climate, soil and region will define the unique flavour of a cocoa bean. Some chocolates will have more fruity notes, others will be more spicy, smokey or even have the aroma of mushroom and truffle.

Apart from the quality of the cocoa beans, the addition of milk will also change the flavour profile. Less roasted and caramel aromas are present in milk chocolate than in fondant chocolate. Aroma-analysis of both chocolates shows that milk chocolate contains about 200 times more ‘lactones’, aroma molecules that smell like peach. Cheesy notes, originating from the milk, are detected as well. On the other hand, milk chocolate contains about 5 times less ‘furaneol’ and ‘pyrazines’, aroma molecules that smell roasted and strawberry-like.

The taste profile also plays a great role when defining your perfect chocolate. Many chocolates contain a lot of sugar, but often it’s the more bitter chocolates that will be interesting for pairing. A chocolate of 50% cocoa will have the perfect balance between sweet and bitter while a 70% bitter will open up pairing possibilities with ingredients like fried bacon.

You probably wonder now which chocolate to use when you start experimenting and combining. To find the perfect matching ingredients for each type of chocolate, the Foodpairing Inspire is the perfect tool.

Here are some examples to get you started on the chocolate pairing.

Chocolate and caviar

chocolate and caviar

Heston Blumenthal stumbled upon this pairing while he was looking for a tasty combination of chocolate with salty ingredients! It’s actually not so crazy that those ingredients are enjoyable together.

The fatty, green and creamy notes of the caviar go well with the creamy, caramellic notes of white chocolate. The choice of white chocolate is mainly made for esthetical reasons here (black caviar and dark chocolate don’t contrast in color).

From a Foodpairing point of view, dark chocolate would be a better option, as there is an increased flavour interaction. The salty taste of caviar will also reduce the bitterness of the chocolate and add umami notes.

How do I try this at home?!

A piece of cake! Or chocolate at least. Place some caviar on a black or white chocolate (not sweet!) bar and serve immediately. Find the full recipe here.

Passion fruit and chocolate

passion fruit and chocolate

That we can combine chocolate with lots of fruits, we know from experience. Perhaps less known is the combination with passion fruit.

The tropical fruity notes of passion fruit match the fruity aromas of the chocolate. Next to the fruity notes, chocolate and passion fruit also share floral and citrus notes. On a taste level, the acidity of passion fruit balances the fattiness of the chocolate.

How to make this pairing at home?!

Halve the passion fruit and spoon out the flesh. Use a vegetable peeler to scrape off thin slices of chocolate and arrange them on the passion fruit flesh. Find the full recipe here.

Onion and chocolate

onion and chocolate

It might seem a bit odd, but this pairing is really enjoyable. During the baking process, the same roasted flavoured molecules that are present in chocolate are developed in the onions. By baking them we also add crunchiness and sweetness to the chocolate mousse. The onion also adds umami taste to the chocolate mousse.

How to do this at home?

Choose a dark unsweetened chocolate to make your chocolate mousse. Place a tablespoon chocolate mousse on a plate. Sprinkle fried onions over your chocolate mousse. Read full recipe.

Cauliflower and chocolate

cauliflower and chocolate

Did you know there are caramellic notes present in cauliflower? A perfect match for the caramel & roasted notes in the cocoa powder. The sulfury notes of the cooked cauliflower are reduced by the roasted characteristics of the cocoa powder.

How to combine them at home?

Cook your cauliflower florets al dente in salted water. Drain and cool them in ice water. Heat some butter in a pan and fry the cauliflower until golden. Spoon the cauliflower on a platter and sprinkle with chocolate powder & grated chocolate. Full recipe.

Chocolate and avocado

chocolate and avocado

One of the key odorants in avocado ‘isopentyl acetate’, a banana smell. When making a puree out of avocado you might have already experienced that avocado can be very banana-like.

It’s these fruity, green notes in chocolate that make the link with avocado. The creamy texture of the avocado harmonizes with the creamy texture of the chocolate ice-cream.

How to do this at home?

Mix the avocado with sugar syrup, lime juice and salt. This avocado mixture is accompanied by chocolate ice cream and a pecan crumble. Full recipe.

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