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Chocolate finds its match

Move over wine and cheese pairings, chocolate has found its true love, too. It goes great with salty bacon strips, crispy potato chips, popcorn, minty liquers and even hot green tea, finds Phorum Dalal

The nature of chocolate is so intense that it is rarely paired with another food or beverage, lest it interrupts the heavenly cocoa taste. “Food pairing is the art of putting together food that goes well, and the method is based on the principle that foods combine well with one another when they share key flavour components. While the most popular pairings involve wine and cheese, chocolate pairings, too, have caught on quite well,” says chocolatier and baker Shreya Rajadhyaksha, who runs Frosted Bites, a bakery at Chembur.


This one needs no recipe. Take a bowl of melted chocolate and served it with some crispy fries

Experimenting with salty ingredients and chocolate, Heston Blumenthal, chef of The Fat Duck ion the UK, discovered that caviar and white chocolate are a perfect match, adds Rajadhyaksha. “Chocolate pairing is all about bringing chocolate together with food that brings out different flavour profiles such as salty, tangy, spicy and hot.”

Balance the intensity
According to Chef Sandeep Pande, executive chef, Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel, chocolate tends to coat your palate, so the pairing has to be balanced. “The liquer drink, Crème de menthe, a Corsican mint-flavoured liquor, goes well with chocolate as mint’s flavour can match the strong taste of cocoa.

The Mayans discovered chocolate, so another South American drink of the same region, Cachaça, can replace white rum in a mohito made with brown sugar and mint. It is an excellent option to serve with white chocolate. Another alcohol that goes beautiful with chocolate is tequila,” explains chef Pande. So, you don’t always have to finish it with salt and lime.

Another Juhu-based baker, Smriti Mehra, says there is no rule when it comes to choosing your chocolate. “But, chocolate with 70 per cent cocoa is ideal to serve as it is neither too sweet nor too bitter.”

As a starter, chocolate goes awesomely well with bread, so serve bread pieces with a little molten chocolate for dipping and you’ll have your guests drooling, recommends Mehra, who owns Parfait.

The Royce counter at JW Marriott’s Bombay Baking Company in Juhu has introduced a chocolate pairing menu, which pairs the sinful slab with tea, coffee, cocktails and single malts. “One of our pairing is Twinings Glendale Twirl, which is a spicy Nilgiri black tea, with Pure Chocolate Ghana Sweet which has 60 per cent cocoa. While pairing, instinct and experience, both, play an important role,” says Executive chef Himanshu Taneja.

Creme de Methe 
   

Ingredients
>>  45 ml crème de methe green
>>  15 ml crème de white
>>  90 ml orange juice
>>  Grated polo



Method
>> Take a Boston shaker, fill it with ice
>> Mix the ingredients together and shake well
>> Strain the mixture into a Martini glass
>> Garnish with an orange peel
>> Pair with dark chocolate

Chocolate Bacon Barks

Ingredients
>> Chocolate chips
>> 7 strips of bacon, fried until crispy



Method
>> Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside
>> Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, stir after every minute to prevent overheating
>> Chop the bacon strips into small bits. Set aside approximately one-third of the bacon to be used to top the bark.
>> Once the chocolate is melted, stir in the remaining two-thirds of the chopped bacon
>> Pour the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet, spread it into a thin layer. While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle the top evenly with the reserved chopped bacon and press down gently to stick it to the surface
>> Refrigerate the bacon bark to set the chocolate for about 30 minutes

Cachaça Mojito

Ingredients
>> 60 ml Cachaça
>> A dash of lime juice
>> Simple (sugar) syrup
>> Sprite or 7 Up
>> Fresh and lime



Method
>> Put the ingredients in a shaking glass with ice
>> Muddle lime and fresh mint leave and shake well
>> Serve in Tom Collin or hardrock glass
>> Pair with white chocolate truffles

What’s not hot
>> Chocolate and eggs
>> Chocolate and onions
>> Chocolate and mashed potatoes
>> Chocolate and bugs

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