The age old question; Chocolate or Cheese?
Cheese and chocolate are so different that the thought of pairing them can seem at the very least difficult, or you may find the idea down right bonkers. Over at Quicke’s we like to throw out the rule book and do things, well, just a little differently.
Not surprisingly, wine and cheese has long been a traditional “pairing” that has evolved over time, particularly with the growing proliferation of artisan cheeses within the last 15 years. As food choices have become more global and palates are more sophisticated than ever, a significant effort has been put towards discovering new pairing combinations with wine, beer, cheese, and a myriad of other foods.
You might not think these two delicious, but very different, flavours would work so well together, but take it from us – pairing cheddar and chocolate creates a culinary combo of sublime delight.
If you need another reason to give this odd couple a go, a scientist at King's College London has said the key to losing weight is to eat chocolate and cheese.
Tim Spector, professor of Genetic Epidemiology and author The Diet Myth: The Real Science behind What We Eat, says that there are around 4lbs of microbes in the average gut, and that the microbes in the body outnumber our own cells by 10 to one. He argued every individual has a different set of microbes in their gut, which can influence processes in our bodies – including how much we weigh.
And what should really be on the menu for someone who wants to lose weight? Professor Spector recommends chocolate and cheese.
“The increasing promotion and use of restrictive diets that depend on just a few ingredients,” says Professor Spector, “Will inevitably lead to further reduction in microbe diversity and eventually to ill-health.”
In order to stay healthy and slim, Professor Spector says the best thing you can do is eat food that promotes the reproduction and growth of good bacteria in the gut. Chocolate and cheese contain polyphenols: anti-oxidants which feed the microbes in the gut and allow them to reproduce.
Cheese contains "a wide variety of microbes including bacteria, yeasts and fungi, and hundreds of species plus thousands of known and unknown strains. All of these things help contribute to diversity of microbes in the gut, which he claims could make you lose weight and live longer, as well as reducing risk of diseases.”
So the scientists are telling us to go for it, what have we got to lose?
How to set up your pairing
The key to this type of tasting is keeping it simple. Both are super-rich foods and a little goes a long way…
Be sure both are room temperature before tasting. Remove the cheese from refrigerator at least 20-35 minutes before the tasters arrive to maximize flavors and aromas. Cold cheese does not release flavors and aromas as quickly and alters the taste.
Smell both the chocolate and the cheese first before tasting.
We found that tasting the cheese first worked better than the reverse.
We recommend a small bite of cheese and then a small bite of chocolate to start, chew some, then take another small bite of cheese.
Choose quality over quantity and limit to three to five pairings.
What to look for
Cheese: Cheese offers a full spectrum of aromas such as grass, fermented hay, nuts, caramel, and animal (yes, animal!)
Chocolate: There is an incredible array of scents and aromas in chocolate. Milk chocolate aromas may include milk, caramel and malt. Dark chocolate may include nuts, coffee, dried fruits and wine.
Quicke’s Clothbound Mature Cheddar and Seed and Bean Organic 70% Cocoa with Cornish Sea Salt
Cheese: Creamy and buttery texture and taste
Chocolate: Classic dark chocolate with a punch of salt at the end.
Combination: A blast of rich marmite across the top of the palate, with a tangy finish that develops into a fungi end note. We found the addition of the cheese tones down the flavor of the sea salt in the chocolate. A really very good combination.
Quicke’s Clothbound Goats Milk with Montezuma’s Organic 73% Cocoa
Cheese: Smooth in texture with a floral and almondy character
Chocolate: Bold and rich with classic dark chocolate notes. We also found red fruit notes of raspberry and cherry.
Combination: This is a really lavish mouthful. The two together are an almost overindulgent mix of floral bittersweet fruit flavours. An orgy of flavours in the mouth.
Quicke’s Clothbound Vintage Cheddar with Montezuma’s Organic 100% Absolute Black Cocoa
Cheese: A rich, intense cheese with caramel-y umami flavours. A full palate experience that develops across the mouth.
Chocolate: The label warns you about the dramatic qualities of this chocolate, but blimey it packs a punch. Almost too intense on its own.
Combination: This was by far our favorite paring. The mouth comes alive with the severe bitterness of the cocoa livened by the salty sweetness of the Vintage. The Vintage stands up well against the 100% cocoa and calms the rapid savouryness that is trying to overtake your mouth. The caramel flavor from the cheese comes through cleanly. We also loved the crunch of the cheese crystals with the crack and chomp that the chocolate delivers, before it melts at mouth temperature and combines seamlessly with the body of the cheese. Like eating rocket fuel, you can certainly ditch the espresso and load up your mouth with this combination for a wake up!