I have a friend who often ends dinners by offering us all espressos, and setting down a bar of fine dark chocolate and some cheese. I’m always impressed by the simplicity and sophistication of it, and vow that the next time we have people over for dinner, we’re going to do the same.
This month, my opportunity came when it was time to go to book club. As I ran out the door, saying a quick goodnight to Aron and the kids, I reached for a few dark chocolate bars, a cutting board, and a chilled bottle of wine, before swinging by the store to pick up a wedge of cheese.
As you know, I’ve been partnering with Ghirardelli this month to spread the word about their Savor the Dark Book Club—Ghirardelli is pairing their premium Intense Dark chocolates with author-signed copies of new, seasonal book releases—so I’ve been learning a lot about chocolate lately. And one of the biggest takeaways I’ve had: It never hurts to experiment a bit—the pairing possibilities are endless. (BBQ Potato Chips, anyone?)
Here are some tips to get started…
Try the chocolate. Does the aroma have hints of nuts? Fruit? Roasted coffee? Listen for a “snap” when you break it in half. Hold it against the roof of your mouth and let it melt to appreciate the texture. Savor the flavors in the beginning, middle, and in the finish. What do you taste?
Seek out complementary flavors. Think about flavors that enhance rather than overpower one another. Pair dark chocolate with bolder, darker roast coffees, and milk chocolate and caramel with medium or light roasts. Enhance fruity flavor notes with fruit or fruit-forward wine.
Ask the experts for advice. Ghirardelli offers a list of suggested pairings for their dark chocolates—dark being the most interesting, in my opinion, for a chocolate board.
The below are some of my favorites that I’ve tried with my chocolate from the Savor the Dark subscription boxes from Ghirardelli. Hope these pairing suggestions inspire you, whatever your preference:
Velvety Dark Chocolate
With a pure dark like Intense Dark 72% Cacao Twilight Delight Bar (hints of mocha, blackberry, and dark cherry), try…
Drinks: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cognac, or Black Tea
Foods: Spanish Manchego, Toasted Almonds, Sweet Baguette, or Dried Fruits (Figs, Raisins, and Cherries)
Fruity Dark Chocolate
With fruit forward chocolate bars like Intense Dark Cherry Tango Bar (tangy cherry bits and crunchy roasted almonds), try…
Drinks: Rosé wine, Semi-sec rosé cava, or Coffee
Foods: Assorted cheeses (like Manchego); Marcona Almonds; Salty, crunchy, fried corn; or Candied Walnuts
Nutty Dark Chocolate
With sweetly nutty chocolate bars like Hazelnut Heaven (crunchy, slow-roasted hazelnuts), try…
Drinks: Dark roast coffee or coffee-flavored liqueurs, Oaky Chardonnay, Red wines with full flavors and soft tannins (like Barbera), or nut-flavored liqueurs (like Frangelico)
Foods: Biscotti, Buttery Shortbread, Fresh Figs, or Sweet, dried ginger
Serve the chocolate at room temperature, broken into pieces on a plate or cutting board. Keep it simple!
Can you guess which I chose to bring?
Hurry! You can order this month’s Savor the Dark Book Club boxes at Quarterly Co., featuring Terry McMillan’s new release, I Almost Forgot About You, paired with Intense Dark 72% Cacao Twilight Delight Bar, Intense Dark Cherry Tango Bar, and Intense Dark Cocoa Nibs Bar, and some bonus items until June 10th.
Thank you to Ghirardelli for supporting Hither & Thither. Discover ways to pair the Intense Dark flavors with food and beverages at Ghirardelli.