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Magnify chocolate's flavors through pairings

August 18, 2011
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On its own, chocolate is a wonderful treat. Marry chocolate with the perfect flavor pairing, and the confection becomes even more memorable. Classic pairing – such as chocolate with peanut butter, raspberry or mint – are here to stay, but adventurous flavors are increasingly popular. Whether it’s fruit, beverages, spices or other ingredients, these flavor trends, compiled by ADM cocoa experts, offer a wide range of possibilities in the confectionary world.

Raise a Glass

Chocolate and wine are naturally suited for pairing – both are incredibly complex and are flavored by the terroir of their growing regions. For example, a white wine made from Reisling grapes pairs beautifully with milk chocolate, while a tawny port begs for dark chocolate.

Wines, however, are not the only beverages that pair well with chocolate. Other beverage flavors can make excellent chocolate companions, such as whiskey, beer or Earl Gray tea.

Meaty Treats

Chocolate and meat may seem like an odd match at first, but chefs and confectioners are discovering that they go together perfectly. For a main course, it might be cocoa-rubbed beef or venison glazed with a red wine and chocolate sauce. For dessert, it’s chocolate and bacon. This sweet-savory combination is a hit with consumers and doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

Cheesy Companions

Cream cheese has long been a friend of chocolate, whether in cheesecake or the more compact truffle form. More distinctive cheeses can take this pairing to a whole new level, such as chocolate with the flavors of aged cheddar, parmesan or fresh goat cheese.

A Little Spice

Early Mesoamerican civilizations used cocoa beans as currency, but it was the Mayans who discovered the health benefits of drinking chocolate with chiles. Today’s consumers have found that the combination of chocolate and spice is incredibly tasty as well. Chiles can add a great dash of spice. For something a little more adventurous, try curry powder or ginger.

Fruity and Herbal Notes

Pairing chocolate with fruit is nothing new, but instead of strawberries and banana flavors, why not try pomegranate, plum or even pumpkin? Herbs, such as basil and lavender, also can add intriguing notes when paired with chocolate.

Don’t Forget the Salt

Salt and chocolate always have gone well together. Sweet and savory chocolate pairings like bacon or peanut butter work so well because of salt. These days, however, salt is a category unto itself. All kinds of chocolate confections are being sprinkled with it. But don’t use just any salt – distinguish your confection with the flavor of fleur de sel gris (grey sea salt), Himalayan pink salt or sesame salt.

As a premier supplier of cocoa and chocolate ingredients worldwide, ADM helps customers in the confectionery industry create products that satisfy a host of flavor, texture and color requirements.

ADM’s Ambrosia brand includes a variety of chocolate coatings, drops, chunks and cocoa liquor products, as well as chocolate and compound coatings.

The Merckens brand features the Rainbow line of chocolate-flavored and pastel coatings for a variety of confectionary applications, such as solid moulding, decoration and enrobing centers.

For more information, visit www.adm.com/cocoa.

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