Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, now’s the perfect time to talk about chocolate. Whether you like to cook with it, bake with it or eat it straight from the wrapper, chocolate is the universal way of saying “I love you.” We all know a good piece of chocolate tastes totally delicious on its own, but is it possible to make it even better than it already is? I’ll give you a hint: YES. Here are some awesome things to pair with chocolate next time you make your favorite chocolate recipe or simply crave a piece of chocolate.
Scientifically speaking, adding salt helps diffuse the underlying aromas that can make chocolate a sweeter-tasting experience. Using sea salt instead of regular table salt also adds a whole new dimension of flavor, since sea salt contains a different combination of minerals that you can’t find in your standard Morton Salt Girl. I recommend sprinkling a generous pinch over chocolate chip cookies or dark chocolate truffles.
Chocolate and chili peppers are actually a classic combination in Mexican cooking. Chili peppers add that perfect extra kick to your dark chocolate. On top of that, they’ve been shown to act as natural pain relievers. All the more reason to start eating them with chocolate!
Start thinking outside the chocolate-covered strawberry box by mixing and matching your favorite fruits and chocolates. Keep in mind that the overall sweetness or tartness of each fruit ultimately affects its compatibility with a chocolate. The classic bitterness of dark chocolate can neutralize very sweet fruits like bananas, mangoes and passionfruit, while the contrasting sweetness of white chocolate helps balance out the tartness of cranberries, raspberries, oranges and other similar fruits.
It might sound odd to dip your popcorn, bacon and potato chips in chocolate, but once you’ve gone fat, you’ll never go back. Just melt your favorite type of chocolate and cover your (crunchy) fat with it.
Two vices in one pair. You definitely have to experiment with picking the right glass of wine to accompany the right piece of chocolate, but when done correctly, wine and chocolate are the perfect finish to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. Your best bet is to match the sweetness of the wine with the sweetness of the chocolate. Choose darker, fruitier red wines with dark chocolates and lighter, sweeter dessert wines with milk chocolates. Avoid crisp and acidic wines as much as possible, since chocolate is already acidic enough on its own. And whatever you do, never pair red wine with white chocolate (trust me, it doesn’t go).
Just like pairing together chocolate and wine, deciding which cheese to pair with which chocolate takes a bit of practice. Generally, if you’re working with a darker, more bitter chocolate, you can afford to choose an aged complex cheese. So, a piece of dark chocolate would taste great with aged Jack, aged Gouda or blue cheese while a piece of milk chocolate would go better with a fresh soft cheese like Brie, Ricotta or Fromage Blanc.