My choice of sweet is always chocolate, but there are a number of classic salty pairings — from pretzels to popcorn to peanuts (bacon would have killed the alliteration). How am I supposed to decide? For those days that you feel compelled to put on your fancy pants, here are a few sophisticated salty foods that you never would have thought to pair with chocolate.

pairing with chocolate

Photo by Lexi Nickens

Don’t let some of these funky ingredients scare you away. Whether it’s for date night with bae, a party, or just some alone time, these flavor pairings will wake up your pallet. Better yet, they only require a few minutes of prep (and maybe a trip to the store).

Chocolate and Potatoes

pairing with chocolate

Photo by Helena Lin

We all know chocolate doesn’t have to be saved for dessert, but mole sauce shouldn’t get all of the love. Try adding it to your side dishes, too. Adding white chocolate to mashed potatoes adds extra creaminess and flavor.

Chocolate and Cheese

pairing with chocolate

Photo by Lexi Nickens

The complexity and nuance of cheese’s saltiness allows it to add a depth of flavor to chocolate that a simple pretzel cannot. Plus, its melt-in-your-mouth texture goes perfectly with chocolate’s creaminess.

My personal favorite pairing is aged Gouda and dark chocolate, but what makes cheese so fun is that there are so many different ways to mix and match it to fit different flavor profiles (find some more pairings here).

You could simply pair a hunk of cheese (shredded or whole) with a bite of dark chocolate, or if you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, swirl cheese into your favorite brownie recipe or box mix.

Chocolate and Alfredo Sauce

pairing with chocolate

Photo by Hannah Giardina

This one might be cheating because it’s basically chocolate and cheese, but melting them together and mixing them with a heap of pasta really adds an extra dimension.

Chocolate and Olives

pairing with chocolate

Photo by Charlotte Hull

I know this one sounds really crazy, but if you can stomach the idea of cheese and chocolate, then why not? If cheese goes with olives and cheese goes with chocolate, then by the transitive property, chocolate and olives should also work together.

Make a simple “truffle” by dipping your favorite type of olive into chocolate (I recommend white or dark). If you have a few extra minutes, you can also make stuffed olives using this recipe.

Chocolate and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

pairing with chocolate

Photo by Niki Laskaris

This is the only pairing on the list that I have not tried. HOWEVER, I think it sounds delicious and plan to try it very soon. Because I can’t personally attest to the quality of chocolate mixed with sun-dried tomatoes, then we will just have to trust the internet (that feels safe, right?).

The blogger behind these chocolate-dipped sun-dried tomatoes wasn’t so sure of her of her creation, but the author of this chocolate and sun-dried tomato bark seemed to have a much more positive experience. Maybe the key is just a higher chocolate to sun-dried tomato ratio?

Regardless, just give it a try. If you don’t like it, you can just wash it down with pure, delicious chocolate.

Chocolate and Prosciutto

pairing with chocolate

Photo by Regan Fitzgerald

We all know chocolate and bacon go well together, so why not try prosciutto? You can read about the differences between prosciutto and bacon, but what’s important to know is that it is both earthier and sweeter and can be eaten raw (due to the way it is cured).

These properties mean its flavors complement chocolate BETTER than bacon would (it’s a sacrilegious claim, but I stand by it). Also, since it can be eaten raw, you eliminate the whole cooking process, saving time and energy.

You could simply wrap a slice of prosciutto around some dark chocolate OR you could spend the extra time to make this ball of deliciousness.

Chocolate (Ice Cream) and Balsamic Vinegar

pairing with chocolate

Photo by Lexi Nickens

Balsamic vinegar is a little bit of a cheat. It is sour rather than salty, but in all honesty, I needed a seventh item for the list because odd numbers attract more readers (#noshame).

Replacing hot fudge sauce with balsamic vinegar gives an ice cream sundae an extra depth of flavor without all the added sugar (unless you put both, which is totally encouraged). Of course, you could really use any ice cream flavor, but chocolate is usually my flavor of choice.

If you have extra time and money, you can also go on the hunt for artisanal balsamic vinegars that come in a variety of flavors, letting you mix and match your flavor pairings (regardless, I recommend you visit an olive oil tasting store like Oliver Tap at least once in your life).