6 Unexpected Cheese and Chocolate Pairings You Need to Try
In the world of food pairings, cheese and chocolate probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. Both are often paired (separately) with wine; cheese and beer are also a tried-and-true combination, while chocolate can be heavenly with tea. However, Theo Chocolate's Chocolate Ambassador, Aaron Lindstrom, wants to open your mind to more unusual pairings. Lindstrom, who regularly leads tasting classes (including cheese and chocolate), gave Food & Wine some key tips for pairing the foods together. In general, dark chocolate and cheese work best together—the high dairy percentage in milk chocolate can often be too much with cheese, he says—and he recommends tasting the cheese and chocolate separately before eating them together as a good rule of thumb. He also encourages customers to step outside the box, too. After all, chocolate isn’t just limited to bars—ganache and truffles can work wonderfully with a smooth and creamy cheese.
As for some of Lindstrom’s favorite pairings? They’re varied, ranging from peppercorn-laced cheese with sea salt chocolate and blue cheese with ginger chocolate (more on that in a minute). Each of his recommendations lists a Theo Chocolate product alongside a specific cheese—check out the picks below.
Spicy cheese + orange dark chocolate
Example: Beechers New Woman Cheese with Theo Chocolate Orange 70 Percent Dark Chocolate
Lindstrom says this is a “like with like pairing,” in which the flavors complement each other. The “New Woman” cheese is infused with a Jamaican Jerk seasoning that includes notes of chili, cinnamon, and thyme—the perfect match to the fruity, citrusy notes in the chocolate.
Tomme + chocolate chili caramels
Example: Cherry Valley Dairy Coho Cheese with Theo Chocolate Ghost Chili Caramels
This pairing is “pretty out there,” according to Lindstrom, but tastes wonderful. He says the cheese (natural rind, aged for four months) is light and simple, which helps extinguish the spicy flavor from the Ghost Chili Caramels. (The caramels are swathed in dark chocolate and sprinkled with dried chilis and Hawaiian red sea salt.)
Chocolate con queso
Think hot chocolate and cheese can’t go together? Think again. One of Lindstrom’s favorite cheese and chocolate dishes is “essentially a Colombian Hot Chocolate,” enjoyed in Colombia at breakfast time. You take a cup of Theo Drinking Chocolate—dark and full-bodied—and add in a slice of camembert cheese. The hot chocolate will melt the cheese, and the cheese will absorb the flavors of the coca. The end result? A rich drink with a cheesy surprise at the bottom, which Lindstrom recommends scooping up with toasted bread.
Peppercorn-studded cheese + sea salt dark chocolate
Example: Beecher’s Marco Polo Cheese and Theo Sea Salt 70 Percent Dark Chocolate
The Marco Polo cheese has peppercorns in it, which interacts with Theo’s sea salt chocolate to create a “salt and pepper” flavor combination.
Blue cheese + ginger dark chocolate
Although Lindstrom’s not a huge fan of blue cheese, he said that it pairs well with Theo’s ginger chocolate, which is studded with pieces of candied ginger for a “sweetly warming, spicy combination.” The chocolate helps mute the strong flavor from the cheese to create a sweeter flavor profile.
Ganache + Camembert
Example: Vegan Cucumber Lavender Ganache OR Salted Caramels and Camembert
Both of these Theo items work great with camembert, per Lindstrom—he likes to wrap the cheese around the ganache, making a “little chocolate and cheese taco.”