We all know that cheese go thogther well with beer and wine. But what about with chocolate?
chesse is mainly savoury, and chocolate is traditionally served sweet but this wasn’t always the cases chocolate has a longer history as a savoury dish than it does as a sweet one, and lets not forget cheesecake.
Individually, they count as some of our favourite night time treats. But when shared together, they can truly transform into a food adventure that can be sensational.
Rich, bold, robust, nutty, creamy – chocolate and cheese share many of the same descriptions, and are an surprisingly good pairing
I have made Goats cheese and dark chocolate truffles and fellow chocolatier Paul A Young developed stilton and port truffles that went on to be one of his top sellers at christmas.
I thought it would useful to know a few things about cheese first.
- Chocolate and cheese share more than 73 flavour compounds, so there's a real scientific reason why these pairing should work.
- The salty umami flavour of Parmesan cheese pairs really well with the rich flavours found in dark chocolate.
- For Parmesan cheese, one of the best chocolates to pair include a Guittard Etoile du nord 64% dark chocolate, Guittard milk chocolate (45%) and white chocolate (31%).”
It is not rocket science; there should be a chocolate – cheese pairing for every taste its just a cases of exploring.
From soft mild cheeses to full flavoured hard cheeses, many of which can be paired with milk, white, or dark chocolate.
The key to this type of tasting is keeping it simple, both can be rich tasting foods so a little will go a long way.
- Portion Your Pairings, chocolate can sometimes overpower the flavours that accompany it. To compensate, serve about twice as much cheese as chocolate.
- Choose quality over quantity and limit to three to five pairings.
Select some chocolates from a good local chocolatier and visit a local cheese shop or Deli to get help selecting the best variety of cheeses.
Serve crusty bread and water because, with such strong flavours, you will need something to cleanse the palate between flights.
Learning how to taste cheese and chocolate builds your appreciation for both foods and your foodie credability.
Start with your basic senses and expand from there. Make sure the chocolates are room temperature.
Take the cheeses from refrigerator at least 20-35 minutes before the tasters arrive to maximize flavours and aromas. Cold cheese doesn’t release flavours and aromas as quickly and alters the taste.
Start with Savoury chesses, then Switch to Sweet There’s a good reason dessert comes at the end of the meal.
Cheese: Some cheeses are intense in colour while others are not. Look at the cheese rind. Is it uniform? Any cracks? Is the cheese dry like a walnut shell or moist like a sliced apple?
Chocolate: For chocolate, colour depends on the origin of the beans, the length of roast. Quality chocolate will be shiny, glossy, and have clean edges.Look for bloom or greyish white steaks caused by poor temperature and storage.
Cheese: Cheese offers a full spectrum of aromas such as fresh butter, boiled milk, yogurt, fermented hay, nuts, caramel, chocolate, spices, mold and animal.
Chocolate: There is a huge array of scents and aromas in chocolate. Milk chocolate aromas can include milk, caramel and malt. Dark chocolate may include oak, nuts, coffee, dried fruits and wine.
Cheese: Is the cheese dense, compact or light? Is it smooth, grainy or crunchy? The higher the butter fat content, the creamier the mouth feel of the cheese will be.
Chocolate: you shouldn’t need to chew. Good chocolate will melt in your mouth, and will feel silky and smooth.
Poor quality chocolate can feel grainy, waxy or greasy to the tongue.
Last, the finish.
Allow the cheese and chocolate to linger to fully appreciate the finale of the latant flavours. The finish is important as many of the early flavours may be masked by other ingredients.
Not all your cheese and chocolate pairings will be a success, but tasting is half the fun. Take your time and try different pairings, make notes. Host a cheese and chocolate event, and guide your friends on a delicious journey. Just remember, keep it simple.
Styles of chocolate
Dark chocolate often has less sugar allowing it to pair well with aged complex cheeses.
We all know that milk loves milk! so milk chocolate pairs well with sweet fresh cheeses, white ricotta and buttery cheeses like brie.
Chocolate with dried fruit and nuts
Chocolate with roasted nuts and dried fruit should pair well with creamier semisoft cheeses and also aged cheeses that have more complexity, Washed rind cheeses complement fruity chocolates.
Some of the new, intense spicy chocolates with chili flavours pair well with sharp cheeses that are not too salty. Higher butterfat cheeses pair best with chocolates with nuts.
Styles of cheeses
Though not listed, there lots of excellent artisanal cheeses that are being produced throughout the UK & Europe my advice is explore.
Cheese can be categorised by general style (but some cheeses might fit more than one style). These styles are:
- Fresh, Uncured Cheeses – These are unripened, and are slightly sweet in taste, which are often described as milky.
- Pairings: Dark 50-65% chocolate is perfect
- Cream Cheese – A very soft, simple and slightly sour-tasting cheese that is most often used for spreading on crackers, bagels, and the like.
Pairings: Milk 45% chocolate is perfect think cheesecake and fruity chocolate will work too
- Mozzarella – This is a relatively bland, fresh cheese that melts well, and is a necessity for pizzas, Mozzarella is produced domestically, usually with cow’s milk, or in its original format called mozzarella di bufala from outside of Naples, which is made from the milk of water buffaloes.
- Pairings: Milk loves milk!
Mild Cheeses – These are grouped together because they have uncomplicated, mild flavours.
Pairings: Milk chocolate is perfect,
- Bel Paese – This versatile, mild creamy cheese from northern Italy melts well, and is good for snacks and for dessert.
- Edam – A firm, slightly rubbery textured cheese originally from Holland that has a mild, slightly buttery and tangy taste.
- Taleggio – A soft, mild and flavourful cheese that is eaten as a snack, appetizer or as a dessert in Italy. If it smells strong Its past its best .
Crème Style Cheeses – Not to be confused with cream cheeses, these cheeses feature the addition of cream during the production process that raises the butterfat content to 60% for double-crème cheeses and up to 75% for triple-crème cheese. These cheeses are soft, creamy, mild, and very rich.
Pairings: Dark chocolate is perfect to cut through the high fat cream.
- Boursault – A brand of triple-crème cheese.
- Boursin – A popular brand covered in pepper or flavoured with garlic and herbs.
- Brillat-Savarin – Another popular unflavoured brand from France. It has a quite sharp taste, and is named after the famous gourmet and food writer of the early nineteenth century.
- Cambozola– This is a creamy cheese that tastes much like a cross between Gorgonzola and Camembert. Its white triple-crème interior contains streaks of blue.
- Pierre-Robert – Tripe-crème cheese from France that sports noticeable mineral and grassy flavours.
- Saint-André – triple-crème cheese.
Brie and Camembert Style Cheeses – characterized by the soft, moist and flavourful texture of the interiors and the slightly less soft mold-covered rinds.
Pairings: 50% Milk chocolate is perfect Fruit-forward, quality red wines and high quality whites are good complements to brie and Camembert.
Brie – A popular soft cheese that features a creamy interior with a mild flavour covered with a white, edible rind. Good when just opened or when heated before eating. Brie should be used within a few days after purchase.
Camembert– This is a classic, creamy and spreadable cow’s milk cheese with a white rind and a milky and tangy flavour.
Swiss Style Cheeses – generally hard-textured cheeses with a mild, nutty taste good for eating on their own.
Pairings: Milk chocolate is perfect,
Beaufort – A Swiss-style cheese from France with a fruity and slightly sweet but clean taste. It is a very good cheese for melting.
Boerenkaas – aged Gouda that has developed noticeable nutty flavours.
Comté– Made in France, this is a smooth, firm cheese with a sharp, nutty flavour that is similar to Beaufort and Gruyère. Melts really well.
Emmental Emmentaler, Emmenthaler – A pale cheese with a light buttery taste made from skimmed cow’s milk. With holes, this is the cheese that gave name to the much more generic and much less flavourful cheeses labelled as “Swiss Cheese.”
Fontina – This is an excellent cheese from of Valle D’Aosta in northwestern Italy that works great as a melting cheese and for the table. The texture is semi-firm with rich, herbaceous and fruity flavour. It pairs great with fruits.
Gruyère– A cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland and France that has a very good, rich and nutty flavour that makes for a great eating cheese. Melts well, too.
Jarlsberg – A mild, nutty and buttery cheese from Norway that is fairly versatile.
Raclette – A mild but flavourful hard cheese from Switzerland that becomes even more enjoyable when melted for the famous Swiss dish of the same name. Somewhat similar to Gruyère.
Cheddar Style Cheeses – cow’s milk cheese is the most popular type of cheese in the world. ranges in flavour from very mild to quite sharp.
Pairings: Milk chocolate is perfect
Asiago – A tangy cheese from Italy that tastes pleasant and mild when young, and becomes more interesting with age.
Cheddar – This is the most widely made cheese in the world, and the one that nearly everyone seems to enjoy. From the better producers, young cheddar has a taste that starts off fairly mild and sweet with notes of nuts, often with a salty tang. Older cheeses have a wonderfully nutty taste with a real piquancy to it.
Cheshire – two styles, referred to as Red and Blue. The Red is a mild and flavourful cheddar-style cheese. The Blue is a blue cheese with a richer and stronger taste than the Red.
Derby – A mild cheddar-style that is an enjoyable, snacking cheese.
Gloucester – cheddar-style cheese that is known as a good eating cheese. The cheeses labelled “Double Gloucester” are tastier than the ones labelled “Single.”
Leicester – A rich, orange-coloured cow’s milk cheddar cheese made in and around Leicester
Provolone – A mild, firm cow’s milk cheese from southern Italy.
Grana Style Cheeses – These are the very hard, sharp-flavoured cheeses that are used for grating, though these can also be a very good eating cheese, especially with wine, when in good condition. Parmigiano-Reggiano is the best of this type of cheese.
Pairings: dark Chilli chocolate or with pepper,
Asiago (aged) – When aged this is a hard cheese with a tangy taste.
Caciocavallo (aged) – A cow’s milk cheese from southern Italy that is tangy and flavourful when aged. The older versions are used as a grating cheese.
Montasio– cow’s milk cheese from north-eastern Italy that has sharp flavour and firm texture when aged, similar to Asiago.
Parmigiano Reggiano [pahrm-mee-JAHN-oh ray-jeeh-AHN-oh] – Hard cheese that has been made since at least the eleventh century in a strictly controlled area in northern Italy. The flavour is subtle, complex and enticing. It’s an excellent eating cheese when aged for a shorter period, and always good for grating and cooking. High quality
Pecorino Romano – hard, sharp-tasting sheep’s milk cheese made that is mostly found in the aged version. This is popular as a grating cheese, but is not as flavourful or complex as the similar-looking Parmigiano-Reggiano. In Italy it is also enjoyed when fresh, and eaten with bread, salame and red wine. The first name of the cheese, “Pecorino” means "from sheep milk.” The second name, the place, “Romano” designates the area around Rome. Pecorino Romano doesn't qualify the best version of this cheese.
Provolone (aged) – Flavourful aged versions from Italy work well as a grating cheese.
Sbrinz– A hard cow’s milk cheese from the central mountains of Switzerland with a nutty, rich flavour. Used for grating, cooking and as a table cheese.
Monastery Style Cheeses –
This broad general style originated in French and Belgian monasteries, and features semi-soft cheeses with often very pungent aromas, even if these are often mild tasting.
Pairings: For any washed rind cheese try dark chocolate with raisins and nuts either on the side or in the chocolate, the bitterness of dark chocolate will contrast the lower acidity. For a more aggressive contrast try using cocoa nibs, a little honey on the side should help to balance this one.
- Chimay – From the Trappists monks of Scourmont, who brew the Chimay beers. This is not a style as there are seven different cheeses. The most widely found here is the Chimay à la Bière that has a flavour that tastes of both peaches and hops and pairs well with the basic Chimay (just match the red labels from this cheese and the beer).
- Havarti – A slightly tangy, but mildly flavoured semi-soft cheese from Denmark that matches especially well with clean-tasting, light lager beers.
- Morbier – This is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese that has a mild but buttery flavour, which is not unlike that of good Fontina. Light, fruity red wines are a good match for this.
- Münster – A noticeable aroma and earthy, herbaceous taste from Alsace. Becomes very pungent when aged. A great complement for a wide range of beers and white wines from either side of the Rhine.
- Port-Salut this soft and mild cow’s milk cheese has a creamy texture, which is its greatest characteristic.
Goat Cheeses –
Made from the milk of goats rather than cows, these all have a similar creamy texture and a tangy flavour that is similar to sheep’s milk cheeses.
Pairings: with higher acid and moisture balances well with sweetness of a creamy milk chocolate. A darker chocolate with orange or raspberry flavour might also balance well with the higher acid fresh cheeses
- Chèvre– Cheese made from goat’s milk that features a popular tart flavour and usually a thick creamy texture.
- Garroxta – A goat’s milk cheese from Catalonia, Spain that has a mild, but earthy nut-like flavour and a semi-firm texture, firmer than most goat cheeses, and a unique grey rind. It’s good for appetizers,
- Monte Enebro – A tangy goat’s milk cheese from Spain with intense herbal flavours.
- Montrachet– A goat’s milk cheese from Burgundy that has a very creamy and soft texture and a mild, slightly sour, but rich and attractive flavour.
Sheep’s Milk Cheeses –
These are made from the milk of sheep rather than cows or goats. These can range widely in flavour, from mild to somewhat sharp tasting, and in quality.
Pairings: Dark chocolate is perfect
- Brin d’Amour – A tangy, aromatic cheese from Corsica that is covered with herbs.
- Feta – A salty, tangy flavoured style, which is integral to Greek cuisine.
- Manchego– The sheep milk’s cheese from Spain features a firm texture and a rich flavour. Works great on a cheese plate, and might be the best all-around cheese to complement a wide range of wines, though a sturdy red might be the best match.
- Pecorino Romano – A hard, sharp-tasting cheese made near Rome that is mostly found in the aged version, which is popular as a grating cheese. Not as flavourful or complex as the similar-looking Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Blue Cheeses –
Blue or Bleu Cheese – This is the generic name for cheeses with internal molds, which are noticeable with veins that are typically blue in colour. With the exception of Roquefort and Cabrales, most blue cheeses are made from cow’s milk. The tastes are sharp and unique.
Pairings: dark Chocolate 70-85%
- Cabrales – A very high quality Spanish blue cheese with intense flavours and aromas that is primarily made from goat’s milk.
- Cambozola – This is a creamy cheese from Germany that tastes much like a cross between Gorgonzola and Camembert. Its white triple-crème interior contains streaks of blue.
- Fourme d’Ambert– A French-made cheese with a buttery taste that is much like Stilton.
- Gorgonzola – An excellent, very creamy cow’s milk blue cheese from northern Italy. Dolce denotes mild flavoured; natural is strongly flavoured.
- Roquefort – A sheep’s milk blue cheese from southwestern France that has been produced since at least Roman times.
- Shropshire – A blue cheese with an orange interior spiked with blue veins and having sharp and grassy flavours.
- Stilton – A cow’s milk blue cheese considered the classic complement for port,
Strong Cheeses – These are pungent and intensely flavoured. As odiferous as these are you might want to avoid using these for an event, especially one indoors. If you plan to serve them, you should place them on separate plates from the other cheeses. Avoid placing these cheeses on wood cheeseboards, as the wood might absorb the smell of the cheeses, and be difficult to clean.
Pairings: dark Chocolate 70-85%
- Münster (aged) – A flavourful cheese with a noticeable aroma and earthy, herbaceous taste from Alsace. Becomes very pungent when aged.