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How to Pair Chocolate with... Everything

December 30, 2016

Pairing foods and beverages may seem like a daunting task reserved solely for chefs and sommeliers, but in reality pairing flavors relies heavily on subjective taste.  This means anybody who pays attention to his or her senses can easily create delicious pairings by experimenting.  My favorite piece of advice regarding pairing foods & beverages came from a good friend; she told me to taste the food I want to pair, then think "what does this make me want to eat?"

An exceptionally sweet food may make you crave something salty or tart.  Something spicy or bitter will likely cause your tastebuds to desire something creamy, fatty, or sweet.  If you think the bacon and dark chocolate trend is weird, well, there's a reason it works.  Bittersweet dark chocolate perfectly offsets salty, fatty bacon.  Pairing flavors is all about balance; you want flavors that complement each other, while being careful that one flavor doesn't overwhelm the other.

For example, a light, herbal tea like Teadonna's Identi-Tea pairs much better with light, floral Askinosie Single Origin White Chocolate than it does with deep, rich Askinosie Tanzania 72% Dark Chocolate.  On the flip side, if you have a bold cup of coffee in your mug, a dark chocolate will bring out the cocoa notes in your beverage without getting lost in the strong coffee flavors.

Some craft chocolate companies do the pairing work for you by adding ingredients that enhance the flavors of their products.  Amano Cardamom Black Pepper Dark Chocolate, Cacao Prieto Mandarin & Bergamot Dark Chocolate, and OmNom Spiced White & Caramel are just a few examples of bars containing amazing flavor collaborations.  We definitely recommend experimenting with your own chocolate pairings to see what works best for you, but here are a few of our favorite combinations to get you started.

Askinosie Single Origin White Chocolate with sourdough pretzels: Why it works - If you have a sweet white chocolate, generally you don't need to add more sweet.  The salty, bready weight of a sourdought pretzel balances out the sweet honey notes in this bar.  Ever had white chocolate covered pretzels?  This is like that, but more awesome because Askinosie Single Origin White Chocolate contains only cocoa butter, goat milk powder, and sugar.  It's the real deal.

Twenty-Four Blackbirds Öko Caribe 75% Dark Chocolate and stout beer on nitro: Why it works - Dark chocolate will bring out the cocoa flavors in your stout, and stout will bring out the malty flavors present in your Twenty-Four Blackbirds bar.  Why beer on nitro?  Stout on nitro is more creamy and will take some of the bite out of the dark chocolate.  If you have the option, always order your stout on nitro.  It's awesome.

Ritual Belize 75% Dark Chocolate with sweet cherries: Why it works - This particular dark chocolate is very juicy and has deep cherry flavor notes.  Sweet cherries enhance this flavor and bring out subtleties in your chocolate bar you may not otherwise notice.

Fruition Marañón 76% Dark Chocolate with a salty bleu cheese: Why it works - This one may sound a little crazy, but you'll just have to trust us.  Super dark chocolate and salty bleu cheese are both very strong flavors, so they stand up to each other well.  Similar to bacon and dark chocolate, bleu cheese and dark chocolate work because the salty fat balances bittersweet.

Alright, time to grab some chocolate and get to tasting.  Try out these pairings at your next party and let us know which ones were your favorite.  Your friends will think you're fancy AF.


Robyn Hartung, CEO