It’s no secret that chocolate pairs well with all kinds of food and drinks. If you want to master chocolate pairing like a pro you need to know the basics of what types of chocolate go best with which ingredient and why!
You need to know how to taste the chocolate (see our other blog). Terms like roasted, cocoa flavor, bitter, sweet, vanilla, sour, fruity, woody, caramel, milk and cream will help you to describe the chocolate and find its perfect match.
There is no strict rule and every person might have his own preferred pairing.
Our pralines are in fact a pairing, a combination of chocolate and all kinds of fillings.
A perfect couple and the most used combination in the chocolate industry. Chocolate enhances the taste of the nuts. Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pecans go great with dark chocolate and milk chocolate.
We all know the chocolate covered strawberries. But did you know that chocolate covered bananas, pears, pineapple, kiwi, apricot, raisins and mango’s can be just as sensational?
The secret is knowing which fruit to pair with which chocolate. The more cocoa content in the chocolate, the more bitter. That is why dark chocolate goes perfectly with very ripe and sweet fruit. Fruits with a higher acidity (passion fruit, tart berries, citrus, …) compliment better with sweeter chocolate, like milk or white chocolate.
Cookies, Honey and Caramel
Sweet ingredients like honey and cookies, tent to go better with dark chocolate and single origins. Caramel might be an exception on the rule. It finds its partner in milk chocolate but it might be too sweet for some.
Peanutbutter is another perfect match. Use unsweeted peanut butter in combination with milk chocolate and sweetened peanut butter to pair with dark chocolate.
It doesn’t seem like an obvious match but some chocolates like to be paired with cheese. Especially the single origin chocolates and milk chocolates find their right match. Creamier cheese tent to go better with dark chocolate. More acid or salty cheese finds his match with milk chocolate. Give it a try with Roquefort, Mascarpone, Parmesan, Caprice Des Dieux, Gruyère, Passendale, French Brie, Goat cheese, Stilton, Chaumes or Cheddar.
Ever tried in chocolate dipped bacon, potato chips or pretzels? It is a winner for those who want to leave the well-trodden paths and try something new.
Our pralines Carnival and Gilles are a pairing of caramel and sea-salt:
Coffee and tea
I drink no coffee without a nice chocolate to go with. Depending on the acidity of the coffee you might change your chocolate choice. Some coffees, especially African coffees, have a very high acidity. You might want to bring the acidity down with a creamy milk chocolate. Arabica coffees, who grow on a higher altitude, have a softer and sweeter taste. I like to pair them with a dark or extra dark chocolate. The coffee enhances the taste of the chocolate for at least half an hour.
Black tea (Earl Grey and Ceylon tea) find their companion in an extra dark 70% chocolate.
Pairing wine and chocolate can be a bit challenging and is not my favorite choice. Especially pairing with a strong red wine is a bit difficult, although it is quite romantic.
The most preferred chocolates are the middle dark chocolate around 55% cocoa. Give it a try with a Chardonnay, Pinot blanc, Champagne (demi-sec) or Cabernet Sauvignon.
If you like a sweeter wine, like Port wine, Madeira, dessert wine or a sweet Sherry, combine it with a 70% cocoa chocolate.
On a cold winter evening there is nothing like a good glass of Cognac or Whisky and a delicious praline. Let the chocolate melt in your mouth and take a sip. Swirl the drink around in your mouth and let it warm until body temperature. You’ll be amazed of the sensation.
Of course it might be a bit tricky to talk about Scotch in general because there are hundreds of different flavors (going from soft and sweet over salty to smoky and peaty). Pairing chocolate with Whisky is a pairing course on its own. I’ll come to that on a later date. I definitely can recommend a dark chocolate praline with caramel and sea-salt with a briny or peaty Scotch.
I like to combine Cognac, Armagnac and Grappa with our milk chocolate or a nutty milk chocolate praline. Have you ever savored a hazelnut ganache praline with Calvados or Armagnac? Mmmm ….
Ever tried a Genauva Fabiola praline with Calvados? The apple of Calvados finds his equal in the soft praline filling.
When pairing chocolates with rum, tropical fruits and exotic spices are the matchmaker. Depending on the sweetness of the Rum or Caribbean liqueur, you’ll choose a milk or dark chocolate.
Don’t pair a fruit filled chocolate with a sweet liqueur. Fruit and sweetness are in competition and doesn’t benefit the taste of both. Go for a bittersweet praline or truffle and enjoy the moment!
Genauva Milk chocolate cocoa 33%
Cocoa flavor and cream are perfectly in balance, supported by a sweet, roasted caramel touch and a pinch of vanilla.
Food pairing: Truffle oil, Caramel, Cinnamon, Clove, Lemon, Laurel, Lavender, Cardamom, Vanilla, Sea salt, Mango, Passion fruit, Apple, Pear, Apricot, Raisins, Macadamia nuts, Hazelnuts, Almonds, Honey, Marzipan, Speculoos.
Matching drinks: Cognac, Armagnac, Grappa, Blond Leffe beer , Coffee, Rochefort 8.
Genauva Dark chocolate cocoa 54.5%
Beautiful well-balanced chocolate with a touch of vanilla.
Strong cocoa pallet, roasted and sweet flavors are perfectly balanced. The medium pallet is bitter with an equilibrium of vanilla, sour and fruit.
Food pairing: Licorice, Dill, Cardamom, Mint, Almond, Vanilla, Olive oil, Macadamias, Jasmine, Orange, Lemon, red fruit, Ginger, Black berry, Raspberry, Cranberry, Pear, Cherry, Pepper, vanilla butter cream, Speculoos, Puffed rice, Cocoa nibs, Marzipan.
Matching drinks: Irish Guinness, Port wine, Grenadine, Raki, Whisky, Caramel Baileys, Kriek Bellevue beer, Lindemans Framboise, Green tea, Rochefort 8.
Genauva extra dark chocolate cocoa 70%
Extra bitter dark chocolate with strong roasted cocoa flavor. The middle pallet shows a sweet – sour balance with vanilla and fruit at the end.
Food pairing: Blueberry, Cranberry, Passion fruit, orange, Cherry, Pistachio, Szechuan pepper, French Brie, Caprice des Dieu, game, Balsamic acid, Lemon, Salt, Marzipan, Vanilla cream.
Matching drinks: Dark Leffe beer, Whisky, Grand Marnier, Marc de Champagne, Coffee, Chardonnay, Banyuls, Earl grey tea.
Written by: Hilde Van den Bossche, CEO