Chocolate and Cheese Pairing

The French Cheese Board hosted a unique chocolate and cheese pairing, on September 24, 2015 for select media. We paired during this food experience:

Raaka’s Virgin Chocolate Coconut Milk – Whipped Cheese

Raaka’s Virgin Chocolate Madagascar – Mimolette

Raaka’s Virgin Chocolate Sea Salt – Epoisses

Raaka’s Virgin Chocolate Bourbon – Bleu d’Auvergne

Raaka’s Virgin Chocolate Vanilla Rooibos – Ossau-Iraty

 

Suggested Pairings

Chocolate Cheese
Coconut Milk, 60% cacao (Origin: Dominican Republic)Raaka developed the Coconut Milk bar to satisfy the desire for a creamy, milky chocolate dairy-free. Coconut milk creates a great alternative to whole milk, while providing an undeniably creamy mouthfeel reminiscent of traditional milk chocolate.Tasting Note: Caramel, Strawberry, and Coconut. Whipped Cheese, Brittany – On the road to Plancoët, Madame Loïk created a delicate recipe made of the freshest spreadable whipped cheese with sea salt from Guérande. With its unique texture, taste and story, the whipped cheese has a unique and easy to spread mousse-like texture.   Tasting Note: Freshness, which melts in your mouth. 
Madagascar, 75% cacao (Origin: Madagascar) The only chocolate bar un the world made from unroasted beans from the Ambanja region of Madagascar’s esteemed Sambirano Valley, on Aesson’s Organic Farm. It’s just organic cacao beans, with a little organic sugar cane to let the chocolate’s own distinct flavor profile shine through.   Tasting Note: Golden plum, rice wine, and pistachio. Mimolette, Northern France – Mimolette is a cheese traditionally produced around the city of Lille. It was originally made at the request of Louis XIV, who was looking for a native French product to replace the then very popular Edam. To make it distinct from Edam he colored it with annatto to give it a sweet and nutty flavor and a distinct orange color. It normally weighs about 4.5 pounds and is made from cow’s milk. The greyish crust of aged Mimolette is the result of cheese mites intentionally introduced to add flavor by their actions on the surface of the cheese.Tasting Notes: Sharp, nutty, fruity taste which also includes sweet hints of butterscotch.
Sea Salt, 71% cacao (Origin: Bolivia)A one of a kind chocolate displaying sparkling citrus notes and warm hints of berry. Unroasted, stoneground cocoa beans present a totally unique flavor profile. Topped with Peruvian Pink Sea Salt to exalt the flavors.Tasting Note: Raspberry, citrus, clove. Epoisses, PDO; Burgundy – Although this cow’s milk cheese has a pungent aroma, its taste is perfectly well balanced and very savory on the palate. Originally made by Cistercian monks who passed on the recipe. Marc de Bourgogne is used to wash the rind and give it its red-orange color. Napoleon was a particular fan of this cheese. Tasting Note: An aromatic smooth and silky cheese with a unique slightly salty taste.
Bourbon, 82% cacao (Origin: Belize)The first chocolate featuring cask-aged cocoa bean. The aging process enhances the virgin chocolate with strong caramel, vanilla, and oaky deliciousness. Matured in Berkshire Mountain distilled bourbon barrels, the finest chocolate deserves to be associated with the finest bourbon. Tasting Note: Caramel, Vanilla.  Bleu d’Auvergne, PDO; Auvergne – A creamy cow’s milk blue from France’s volcanic rich south-central area. It is a PDO with a strong and pungent taste, but to a lesser extent than other blue cheeses; it is less salty, with a creamy and moist texture and a buttery taste.  Tasting Note: Bleu d’Auvergne has a salty and spicy taste.
Vanilla Rooibos, 67% cacao (Origin: Bolivia & Dominican Republic)Premium unfermented rooibos tea brings warm, fruity notes and a hint of toasted marshmallow to lush, unroasted chocolate.     

 

 

Tasting Note: Cherry, toasted marshmallow.

 

Ossau-Iraty, PDO, Basque Country – Ossau-Iraty is probably the less known PDO cheese. It unites two regions of France in the Western Pyrénées: Ossau in the valley of the Bearn, and Iraty in the beech forests of the Pays Basque. Ossau-Iraty is full of delicious, nutty, robust taste if it is produced during the period from June to September when the herds move up to the high mountain meadows. Covered by a thick orange to grey rind, the paste is white, supple and creamy. It becomes firmer as it matures. Tasting Notes: Creamy and buttery in the mouth with flavors of nuts, fruits and herbs.

Commonalities:

Rich, bold, robust, nutty and creamy – chocolate and cheese share some of the same qualities, and offer unexpected flavorful pairings. Even if there are no standard rules when it comes to pairing, in general, light cheeses complement light flavors, while full-flavored cheeses balance flavors that are more complex.

 

Styles of chocolate Pairing suggestions
Dark Bitter chocolates pair well with aged complex cheeses
Milk Chocolate Milk chocolate pairs well with fresh cheeses like chèvre or buttery semi-soft cheese like brie.
Chocolate with Dried Fruits or Nuts Chocolate with roasted nuts and dried fruits pairs well with creamier semi-soft cheeses and also aged cheeses that have more complexity.
Spicy chocolates Chocolates containing chili and other peppers pair well with sharp cheeses that are not overly salty.

 

Terroir

In the past decade, there has been a surge of small batch, bean-to-bar chocolate-makers like Raaka, who take care of sourcing cacao beans from single origins and tailoring roasting profiles to bring out their natural flavors. In cheese, the PDO specifications need to be exact for Protected Designation of Origin cheeses to carry their names. Specifications include the cow breed, its feed, the size and shape of the cheese and the minimum amount of affinage or maturation required.

The land where the cacao bean grows, like the land where the cows feed, impart characteristics to the flavor and aromas of the final product. Soil, climate, altitude, and latitude have a profound and direct influence. Norman cows that produce milk to make Camembert feed on lush meadows drenched in salty dew from the English Channel. Raaka’s sources it beans grown and produced in the tropics like the Maya Mountain of Belize or San Francisco de Macoris region of the Dominican Republic, for example. Likewise, the milk from cows feeding on Alpine mountainsides lends its flavors to certain cheeses.

Aging

Another similarity we found interesting was Raaka’s Bourbon chocolate bar. The cacao beans are cask-aged in Berkshire Mountain Distilling Bourbon barrels, which impart the flavors of caramel and vanilla. Traditionally, PDO Feta cheese is also aged in wooden barrels to give the cheese a unique flavor. The aging process for cheese is extremely important and defines the characteristics of the rind, flavor, body and texture of the cheese. A maître affineur is a highly skilled profession in France; they ensure the cheeses are age to perfection.

Health benefits

Cheese is a great source of protein and calcium. Since protein, curbs hunger and keeps you feeling satisfied after meals, cheese can help you to lose weight. As part of a well-rounded nutrition plan, the protein in cheese can slow down the absorption of carbohydrates eaten at the same meal and therefore help balance your blood-sugar levels and improve mood as well.

Unlike processed dark chocolate, antioxidants are preserved in raw cacao. Benefits from keeping organic chocolate unheated include much higher levels of the famous antioxidants as well as the preservation of Vitamin C and phenethylamine: the feel good neurotransmitter responsible for the feeling of love!

In addition to being a great source of energy, cheese contains additional nutriments like zinc and biotin. Zinc has several functions in the body: it aids in tissue growth and repair, prevents and treats macular degeneration, protects your skin, and helps keep your nails strong. Both zinc and biotin are also important for hair health.

Raaka’s Virgin Chocolate is dairy-free product. Aged cheese has very little lactose or can be lactose-free. The older the cheese the less lactose it contains. Lactose is in the whey not the curd. The whey drains during the cheeses drying process. Like Raaka’s Virgin Chocolates, French cheese is gluten-free, in most cases, and all natural.

About Raaka Virgin Chocolate

Raaka (http://www.raakachocolate.com) crafts bean-to-bar chocolate from unroasted, USDA Certified Organic cacao in Brooklyn, New York. While nearly all chocolate is made by roasting cacao beans, Raaka’s unique low temperature process preserves the wild flavor profiles innate to each origin, offering a rare and delicious chocolate experience that brings people closer to the bean.

About the French Cheese Board

Financed by the French Dairy Board (CNIEL*) the French Cheese Board (www.frenchcheeseboard.com) is a studio devoted to all things French cheese. Conceived as an idea lab, it is a space for consumers & trade members to discover the diversity & richness that France has to offer through a series of interactive showings and events.

The new home of French Cheese in New York blends the culinary arts with contemporary art installations, meshing lifestyle, art, cheese & more. We put art & design at the forefront of modernity, development & innovation. We invite artists, designers, chefs & researchers to work together on projects related to French cheese & the nutrition of today & tomorrow. The French Cheese Board provides a platform for the exchange of ideas – for education & for the celebration of French cheese.

*Composed of the French dairy farmers and cheese firms, the French Dairy Inter-Branch Organization’s (CNIEL, http://www.maison-du-lait.com/en) mission is to create awareness about the variety of the cheeses of France available in the US market and the multiple ways that American consumers can incorporate the cheeses into their diets, their recipes and their lifestyles. Co-financed by the EU, the current marketing campaign “Cheeses of Europe, Make it Magnifique” (www.cheesesofeurope.com) is comprised of a website, TV & print ads, pop-up stores in select markets and in-store demos nationwide.

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