Foods That Go Well With Chocolate, Both In and Out of It
It’s true that some folks just like a good old-fashioned chocolate bar. No frills, no fancy stuff, just a regular chocolate bar. Which is fine, except that gets pretty boring after a while for most.
Soon, the taste buds want something more. They want something that will add a little extra flavor or crunch. But there are certain foods that don’t always have to be in the chocolate to make your chocolatey snack that much more of a party.
Here are some of the foods—and even beverages—that go well with chocolate, both in and out of it.
1) Fruit. You absolutely cannot, in any way, go wrong with mixing fruit and chocolate. From the very sweetest—strawberries—to the tartest cranberries and lemons, chocolate and fruit is always a sure win. It’s not always about putting stuff in chocolate that makes this pairing a true win-win.
You’ll often find chocolate-covered cherries, especially at Christmas. Strawberries can often be seen dipped in fresh melted chocolate, or they’re dipped and allowed to chill in the refrigerator for sweet summer snacking. Citrus and chocolate, especially lemon and orange, is especially delicious and refreshing. Pair the orange and chocolate with peanut butter and it’s absolute heaven.
Cranberries, even South American acai (ah-SIGH) berries are being partnered with chocolate of late, and you also can’t go wrong with blueberries. You could even try kiwi with chocolate if you’re feeling particularly adventurous. But don’t forget chocolate-covered raisins, either. They’re always a tasty snacking staple.
2) Nuts. Chocolate and nuts are often a true flavor-mix favorite, both in and out of the chocolate pool party. It’s likely because we humans have a love for the sweet-and-salty combo that this flavor-pairing brings to the table. Whether you have a love for the classic chocolate-covered peanuts or you’ve got exotic tastes and go for Brazil nuts, pistachios or hazelnuts—also called “filberts”–chocolate and nuts have been a favorite taste combo for a good while now.
3) Mint. Whether you’re taking your mint in herbal tea form, and you’re drinking it with a chocolatey food, or you mix mint flavoring into chocolate to make candies, mint mixed with chocolate has been around for quite a while. In fact, the combo is so popular with a lot of folks that mint-chocolate-chip ice cream was, more or less, a “no-brainer” invention. Some people love the chocolate and mint pairing so much that someone eventually developed a species of mint called “chocolate mint” that actually smells like mint and chocolate put together. The scent is heavenly, and dried chocolate mint leaves would make for a wonderful experiment when mixing with white chocolate.
4) Lavender. Believe it or not, lavender is considered an edible essential oil, as long as it’s in small quantities. The Dagoba chocolate company, for instance, has a lavender-infused chocolate bar that’s truly divine. For those who have yet to try it, you are really missing out on a treat. But you have to savor it, since the lavender essence is very subtle, and it’s often in their lighter chocolate, since the intense dark chocolate would cover up the lavender flavor.
5) Ginger. This is a super treat for those of you who love your ginger candy as well as chocolate. It makes for a spicy-sweet combo that, when combined with citrus fruit, either on the side, or in the chocolate, is sheer heaven.
6) Spices. Nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. They are the “Three Musketeers” of the holiday baking season, and they pair especially well with semi-sweet chocolate—about 65% cacao content. Mix with orange and ginger and you’ve got a fiery mix that will tempt your tongue beyond the point of no return.
7) Coffee. Thanks to the American public’s obsession with staying awake late at night to get work done, or to wake up before starting the day, on top of a general human love for chocolate, it was inevitable that someone would play flavor matchmaker and get coffee and chocolate together to create a love affair that’s lasted a very long time already. From chocolate-covered espresso beans to mochas, it’s a flavor-and-chemical combination that’s got a lot of people “wired” for the intensity and punch of two of the oldest bean crops.
8) Chili Pepper. This specific combination is most attributed to the people of Mexico, who are famous for spicing up their hot chocolate beverages. And now, thanks to that knowledge, the Tabasco company—the one that makes the famous hot sauce, now has pieces of chocolate flavored with their trademark spicy stuff. There are also chocolate bars with bits of hot pepper in it, but don’t worry, it’s honestly not that spicy, and as with ginger, the spicy-sweet combo is absolutely phenomenal.
9) Wine. Wine is not normally put into chocolate, but can easily be savored alongside the sweet treat. And depending on how strong the wine is, the chemical effects on the brain when consumed with dark chocolate are out of this world. And flavor-wise, it’s likely best to pair red wines with chocolate—the drier the better, especially if you’re eating semi-sweet chocolate.
But be aware first how both chocolate and wine individually affect you before you try this. For example, those who get giggly on wine—especially a good shiraz—and then eat dark chocolate are likely to get twice as giggly. However you want to put your wine and chocolate together, though, do so responsibly and have a designated driver if you happen to be out and about while trying this combination.
It’s clear that chocolate is one of those foods that’s made for pairing—a “blank slate” that can be “painted” with other tongue-tempting flavors. Whether you’re a classic fruit, mint and nut aficionado, or are a bit more spicy and adventurous with the chili pepper and ginger, finding your favorite flavors in chocolate can mean the difference between an ordinary chocolate bar and a party in your mouth.