Cheese and Chocolate are a fermented match made in heaven! On the surface these two foods seem quite different, but they share the magic of fermentation as a common root. Cheese is made from milk that is fermented and coagulated into curd, and chocolate is made from seeds that are fermented in their own pulp before being dried, ground, and transformed into bars of chocolate.
What is fermentation anyways?
Wikipedia defines fermentation as 'a metabolic process that produces chemical changes in organic substrates through the action of enzymes.' Microbes are the engine that power fermentation, and in the case of both cheese and chocolate, these microbes digest sugars and other nutrients in milk and the moist pulp of the cacao seeds and produce chemical compounds that build flavor. If cheese is milk's leap towards immortality, then microbes are the springboard that makes it happen.
Why do cheese and chocolate pair well together?
Cheese and chocolate are both rich and complex foods with nuanced flavors that complement one another. Eating cheese and chocolate also release feel good chemicals in the brain, so in addition to getting a pleasurable flavor combination, you're also getting a boost of dopamine and seratonin!
What are the best cheese and chocolate pairings?
We're proud to partner with Brooklyn-based Raaka Chocolate for our Cheese & Chocolate of the Month Club. We chose Raaka because of their unique approach to chocolate making. Raaka means 'raw' in Finnish; all of their chocolate is un-roasted. This sets them apart from pretty much every other chocolate on the market, and allows them to explore flavor combinations that enhance the unique flavor profile or terroir of each variety of cacao that they source.
We believe that when creating pairings, be it beverages or chocolate, the best pairing is the one that YOU like best! If you're eating good cheese and chocolate it's hard to go wrong. However, here are a few of our favorite pairings of Saxelby Cheese and Raaka Chocolate:
Kunik or triple cream cheese with Raaka's Maple and Nibs bar:
Kunik is a decadent, buttery cheese that almost like goat's milk gelato. The delicate, rich, creamy sweetness of triple cream cheeses in general make them an ideal match for pretty much any chocolate. The maple-sweetened bar tastes like a freshly baked brownie generously sprinkled with toasted nibs for a satisfying crunch on the outside. It's like a brownie topped with a dollop of the best whipped cream on the planet.
Ashbrook or washed rind cheese with Raaka's Bananas Foster bar:
Ashbrook is a gently pungent washed rind cheese that exudes a slightly fruity, buttery funk. Its pliant, semi-firm texture makes for a wonderful mouthfeel. We recommend pairing washed rind cheeses with chocolate that exhibits fruitier flavor notes. Raaka describes their Bananas Foster as 'brulee in a bar'. Each bar is made with ripe bananas, fruity Peruvian cacao, caramelized sugar, and vanilla bean. Taken together these two make for a sweet combo twinged with just the right amount of funk.
Bayley Hazen or blue cheese with Raaka's Bourbon Cask Aged bar:
Bayley Hazen blue is a rich, fudgy blue cheese with notes of salt, barnyard, anise, and fresh cream. Blue cheese plays well with other fatty foods, in part because the other fats can mellow the intensity of the blue flavor. We recommend pairing blue cheese with booze-infused chocolate because sometimes high octane is the best way to go! Raaka makes their bourbon aged bar by aging single origin Tanzanian cacao in bourbon casks for two months. The barrel aging creates a nuanced bar heady flavors including oak, cherry, and smoke. This pairing is the perfect nightcap!
Sample singular chocolate pairings of Saxelby Cheese and Raaka chocolate with our Cheese and Chocolate of the Month Club!
To learn more about how Raaka makes their divine chocolate bars, visit their website!