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What to Pair With Chocolate

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Today on Food52: We talk to spice master and Provisions merchant Lior Lev Sercarz about the best things to eat with chocolate.

This article is brought to you by our friends at Ghirardelli Intense Dark and their new Twilight Delight 72% cacao chocolate.

When it comes to chocolate, our general rule of thumb is yes. And while we love to cook with it, and bake with it, we really like to eat it as is. A square of good quality dark chocolate alone does wonders for any rough day, but could we make it even better somehow?

A lot of people talk about pairing wine with food. But what about chocolate pairings? Are there foods that would make chocolate more resonant, more intense … dare we say, more delicious? We put the question to an expert in all things spice and flavor-related: Lior Lev Sercarz of La Boîte à Epice. Lior knows how to mix unexpected flavors -- take his spice blend of lemon, saffron, coriander, and fennel in our Provisions shop as an example. When he told us his favorite snack as a child in Belgium was a square of dark chocolate sandwiched in a squishy white roll, we knew we’d come to the right person.  

Here are some of his tips for thinking outside the box when it comes to chocolate:

Use Salt

You need foods with a big flavor profile to stand up to the intensity of dark chocolate. Salty foods are perfect for this – especially ones with a crunchy or smoky element (think crackers or nuts). Sprinkle some large flake salt over dark chocolate ice cream. Try one spoonful with it, and one without, and see how much richer the salted spoonful tastes.

Make it Hot

Pepper or chilis create a numbness on the tongue that allows less dominant taste buds to come out, so you’ll taste more sweetness in very dark chocolate that usually tastes bitter. Test this by eating dark chocolate alone, and then after a bite of a very spicy Sriracha-laced popcorn

Experiment

Chocolate has its own set of nuanced flavors, so any spice is going to highlight some and downplay others. Don’t be shy about playing around with pairings, and pay attention to what you like. Lior suggests less expected spices, like curry powder and star anise, to nudge chocolate into the savory territory. If you prefer sweetness, try pink peppercorn – the natural oiliness coats your palate, which helps you taste the sugar. Coffee fan? Break a square of dark chocolate into your morning cup and let it melt. Both the chocolate and coffee will amplify each other, and you won’t need an added sweetener. 

His greatest advice is not to take it too seriously – if you like potato chips, by all means eat a handful with some very good chocolate. That’s the sort of encouragement we can get behind.

What's your favorite way to eat chocolate? Tell us in the comments!

This post was brought to you by Ghirardelli Intense Dark.

This article originally appeared on Food52.com: What To Pair With Chocolate

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